World Cup

Ambris keen to cement spot in Windies’ ODI XI

West Indies ODI skipper Jason Mohammed (right) spoke to his deputy Sunil Ambris during a practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Dhaka, Bangladesh on Friday. (AFP PHOTO) –

WEST INDIES One-Day International (ODI) vice-captain Sunil Ambris plans to use his role at the helm of the regional squad as a stepping stone towards securing himself a permanent place among the men in maroon.

Jason Mohammed will lead the touring team against Bangladesh in a three-match ODI series which bowls off at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Wednesday.

The Vincentian Ambris does not see the position of vice-captaincy as added pressure on him and is intent on producing good performances to stay in the minds of the WI selection panel.

Speaking to Cricket West Indies (CWI) media officer Dario Barthely, on Friday, the 27-year-old Ambris also called on the squad’s inexperienced players to capitalise on this unique opportunity to represent the Caribbean.

Ambris said, “I think we have a very inexperienced batting team. Having said that, I think we have a very talented bunch. A bunch of guys who once they stick to what they do we’ll turn out good in the series.

“The guys must stick to what they know. A lot of the guys are new to international cricket but try not to think too much about it. It’s the same cricket, just play hard and smart cricket and we’ll be ok,” he added.

Ambris played for the WI Under-19s at the 2012 Under-19 World Cup in Australia and made his senior ODI debut in 2017 against England. He also made his Test debut, later that year, against New Zealand.

In May 2019, he was named as a WI reserve player for the Cricket World Cup and was added to the squad after Andre Russell was ruled out of the team.

In June 2020, Ambris was named as one of 11 reserve players in the WI Test squad for their series against England. The Test series was originally scheduled to start in May 2020, but was moved back to July owing to the pandemic.

“I think this is actually the first tour I am confident that I’d be starting,” said Ambris. “I would like to use this to cement myself in the playing 11.

“I’m excited to take up the vice-captain role. It’s not something that I saw coming. I am looking to score, at least 100 (in one) of these three games. I think that will do me a lot of good,” he said.

West Indies’ batsman Kjorn Ottley throws the ball in the nets during a practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Friday. (AFP PHOTO) –

The travelling team has, however, been depleted since their more prominent players refused to tour due to the coronavirus pandemic. Several of them recently came off the team’s tour of New Zealand and opted to initiate CWI’s covid19 clause which allows players to omit themselves from selection.

The likes of regular captains Jason Holder (Test) and Kieron Pollard (ODI and T20 International), Darren Bravo and Nicholas Porran, to name a few, have all chosen to opt out of the squad’s first tour for 2021.

Additionally, WI leg-spinner Hayden Walsh jr was also withdrawn from the ODI squad, on Wednesday, having tested positive for coronavirus.

The Leeward Islands bowler, who is asymptomatic, first returned a negative test result on arrival into Bangladesh on the weekend, and then had a positive return on his test in Dhaka on Tuesday. This result was verified by a second positive test the following day.

Following PCR tests administered, Walsh will now undergo a period of self-isolation.

According to Ambris, “Walsh’s situation is a very sad one. When I heard about it, to be honest, I was scared. But it’s out of my mind now. Think ahead, stay safe and be positive.”

With the pitch conditions in Bangladesh expected to favour the spinners, Ambris believes a WI total of 240 to 270 should be sufficient for a victory.

In his last three ODIs against Bangladesh, Ambris scored 130 runs, one of which contained a half-century. The right-handed batsman has no intention to alter his cricketing style and remains focused on playing smart and positive cricket.

Although preparations have not been “ideal”, Ambris believes the youthful unit has what it takes to get the visiting squad over the line to secure a possible series win.

“Once the guys, especially the new ones, once they’re comfortable and can play their natural game at ease, I think that all will go well for us.

“I have to show them that I’m having fun and that it’s ok to have fun. Once you’re having fun doing what you know to do, I think you’ll be good.”

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