Windies primed for Manuka
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her partner Tim Mathieson with the West Indies team at The Lodge. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The West Indies plan to use their inside knowledge of local conditions and players gained from the Big Bash League to upset a revamped Australian one-day side.
The current Twenty20 world champions begin their quest to translate their short form dominance into the 50-over arena when they take on a Ricky Ponting-led Prime Minister's XI at Manuka Oval on Tuesday.
Kicking off their five-match one-day international tour in Canberra, ahead of the first game in Perth on Friday, gives the tourists a valuable hitout before they face an Australian outfit coming off a two-all series draw with Sri Lanka.
Adapting to the extra bounce of Australian pitches shouldn't be a problem for the Windies, with five of their 15-man squad having enjoyed stints in the BBL.
While master blaster Chris Gayle didn't set the world on fire with the Sydney Thunder, he's still one of the most dangerous batsmen in world cricket.
All-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who along with spinner Sunil Narine (both Sydney Sixers), paceman Kemar Roach (Brisbane Heat) and hard-hitting batsman Kieron Pollard (Adelaide Strikers), rounded out the large Windies BBL contingent, believed they would be able to learn valuable lessons from the domestic Twenty20 competition.
''It gives us an advantage and gives us an insight into how the Aussies think,'' Bravo said. ''We look up to most of them, so it's good to share the same dressing rooms.
''The Big Bash helped a lot in us getting used to the conditions and we're going to try to make sure to pass on whatever advantage we have.''
Apart from all-rounder Marlon Samuels, who is still recovering from a facial injury suffered while playing for the Melbourne Renegades, the Windies are at full strength. But Roach will bypass Canberra and join the squad in Perth after taking a later flight from the Caribbean to be at the birth of his child.
Gayle had a forgettable BBL campaign, scoring just one half century, but returns to the scene of one of his most memorable innings.
The 33-year-old smashed an incredible 146 off just 89 balls against the PM's XI three years ago.
''We all know Chris is one of the best players in the world, you can't hide that, and these conditions suit him,'' Bravo said. ''I know obviously he had a bad Big Bash this year but the previous seasons he did well with the bat. I hope that people remember that and know that he's still dangerous.''
Retired great Ponting will lead a side light on with first-class experience but brimming with talent.
Veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, fringe Test batsman Usman Khawaja and all-rounder James Faulkner, who replaces Moises Henriques in the Australian ODI side for the series opener with the Windies in Perth on Friday, join promising paceman Gurinder Sandhu, spinner Ashton Turner and Pakistan-born Fawad Ahmed in the line-up for the first match in Canberra under lights.
Haddin was recalled for the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka in place of the rested Matthew Wade. The Queanbeyan product hoped another chance would come his way leading into the much-anticipated Ashes series in England this year.
''It was good to get back around the group, especially being out for so long,'' Haddin said.
''I never had any doubt that I could compete at that level, it's just whether the opportunities would open up and go my way.
''With a bit of luck I can get a bit more of that before my career's done.''
Tuesday's match starts at 2.20pm, with gates opening at 12.30pm.