Cricket World Cup: Which team will your shirt be on? A nation by nation guide to the Cricket World Cup - West Indies

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VERDICT: Everything and anything is possible now for West Indies. Three months ago they were a shambles, lacking direction and purpose. Dismantled in South Africa (5-0 in the Tests, 6-1 in the one-dayers) they were then humiliated in the first match of the home rubber against Australia. Their cause was hopeless, Caribbean cricket, it was said, was done for. And then came Brian Lara. With two of the greatest innings of all and a team who responded to his example they drew the rubber 2-2. The recent one-day series, marred by crowd riots finished at 3-3 and West Indies might easily have won. They might struggle for sufficient runs and they are a long way from being what they once were - but they are a team again.

EMERGING HERO: Ridley Jacobs must have been the best-kept secret in the Caribbean for a decade. Since Jeff Dujon retired West Indies wicketkeepers have come and gone but Jacobs was ignored. At 31, he was at last picked for the ill-fated South African tour and took to it immediately. Jacobs is a stupendous catcher and otherwise admirably unfussy. His batting reflects this and he has solved a long-term problem.

ACHILLES' HEEL: The prospect that Lara, whose wrist is obviously causing him discomfort, may not be fully fit because the injury has not been fully rested. Without him they could easily crumble.

HISTORIC POINT: Lord's, 21 June 1975, the first World Cup final, West Indies v Australia. On a long, hot day West Indies, with a century from captain Clive Lloyd and an impeccable fielding performance, won by 17 runs. More please.

SILLY POINT: And they say England are wary of youth. West Indies have eight players over 30, two of them making their tournament debut.

RECORD: 1975 winners; 1979 winners; 1983 runners-up; 1987 1st round; 1992 1st round; 1996 semi-final.

SQUAD: B C Lara (capt), S Chanderpaul, R Powell, S C Williams, R D Jacobs, S L Campbell, K L T Arthurton, P V Simmons, C E L Ambrose, C A Walsh, J C Adams, H Bryan, M V Dillon, N O Perry, R D King.

ODDS: 9-1.