Hope underlines importance of England series in build-up to World Cup
Shai Hope has been scoring plenty of runs for West Indies in ODIs lately. (AFP Image)

West Indies wicketkeeper batsmen Shai Hope is looking forward to the five ODIs against England, calling it a “good gauge” for the Caribbean side ahead of the World Cup starting May 30. Hope, who has been in stellar form since the latter half of 2019, said West Indies are keen on carrying forward the confidence of the Test series – which they won 2-1 – into the ODIs, which shall bode well ahead of the ICC event in England.

“It’s a lot to look forward to,” said Hope. “It’s a very exciting time, especially leading up to the World Cup so I’m sure the guys are ready and raring to go. We are just coming off a Test series win and that was fantastic for everyone involved and the fans, so it is important for us to continue in that vein and try to get the series win as well.

“We can use this as a good gauge for us going into the World Cup. We are still looking at some plans, in terms of what is the best fit and combination but it’s a good challenge for us and we’ve got some work to do.”

The first of the five ODIs take place in Barbados on Wednesday and the availability of Chris Gayle promises to boost West Indies’ chances against England. In fact, Gayle himself is eager to do well since this marks the last instance of the batsman performing in front of his home crowd, in wake of his decision to retire from ODI cricket at the conclusion of the World Cup.

“It’s great, just to see him (Gayle) at nets. Good laugh, good shots as well, and he’s going to strengthen the team a lot. We know the importance that Gayle brings to the team. He has a lot of experience and we need to make sure we use that experience and strengthen the entire team,” Hope added.

West Indies had an ordinary 2018, losing series in India and Bangladesh. Hence, on paper, England, who have been on a hot ODI run, will start heavy favourites, while the Windies would once again have to do as underdogs. But as per Hope, that is a tag which works well for the two-time world champions and the wicketkeeper batsmen is hopeful of another surprise from the Windies after the Test result.

“We will use it (the underdog tag) as a motivator. We knew what people were saying about us and we’ve got to do the same as we did to win the Test series – make sure that we know we’re coming here to play cricket and put up a fight. And it’s just not to put up a fight either but to win so we’ve got to make sure we do that,” he said.

“We are an international team and we have come here to play cricket. We will use it as a challenge, we know they’re going to come at us hard but we will fight fire with fire. Hopefully we have given the fans something to look forward to. I’m sure they’re coming for two wins back-to-back at home. We gave them a win in the Test series so hopefully we can do the same again.”