If you look at the history books, spinners from the West Indies can virtually be counted on your fingers. It's the same with Guyana, the lone West Indian outfit in the championship, except you'll need all 10 fingers, as there are that many cricketers who bowl spin in their squad of 15!
The figure, of course, includes part timers and all-rounders along with the specialists, but it's staggering nevertheless. The fact that even going by this liberal yardstick there are no more than six spinners in any squad — RCB has the second highest — puts the number into perspective.
And finding so many of them in a West Indian squad makes it even more incredible. Isn't the Caribbean after all known best for its fast bowlers and perhaps least for its spinners?
“Well, we have got to carry forward the legacy of Lance Gibbs,” chuckled Devendra Bishoo, a specialist leg spinner in the squad.
Guyana, of course, has been the main source for whatever few spinners the West Indies have produced, starting with great Lance Gibbs in the 1950s and 60s, followed by Roger Harper, Carl Hooper etc.
“Actually, our wickets and conditions favour the spinners. We have wickets that suits spin bowling, and that has helped us produce plenty of good spinners,” explained Guyana coach Ravindra Seeram.
Apart from spin-conducive conditions, Guyana is perhaps too proud of the legacy to let it wither away. “Special spin clinics are held every now and then back home to keep the feeder system in good health,” said Bishoo.
Other than having an endless string of spinners, this squad looks different from the usual West Indian side in one more aspect: fitness and fielding. The outfit looks extremely agile, puts in lot of effort into their fielding, and doesn't look far away from the top fielding sides.
“Our idea is to mould this side into the top fielding sides in the world, and I believe we aren't much behind the top sides in the world,” said Guyana's coach.
What seems to have finally driven home the importance of fielding to the largely indifferent West Indian squad is the advent of T20 cricket.
“If you can't field in T20 cricket, you don't stand a chance. So we have come here after having an intense two-week fitness programme, followed by two-week long special fielding programme,” the coach said.
The winds of change are apparently blowing quite fast in the West Indies.