Bangalore: Shane Watson, the Australian allrounder, has nominated the West Indies as the team to look out for at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September-October.
The West Indies have been reinforced by the return of Chris Gayle and possess a glittering array of stroke-makers, most of whom are allrounders, ideally suited to the Twenty20 game.
"I actually think the West Indies are going to be the team to beat," Watson told ICC Cricket 360°™, the ICC's new weekly multi-platform show. "They have got a really well balanced team that has played a lot of high quality Twenty20 cricket around the world, and they certainly know how to perform under pressure. I think they have got the firepower to give a lot of teams a big surprise."
Watson added that Australia too will be strong contenders, especially with several players having honed their skills playing domestic Twenty20 competitions across the world. Australia have never won the World T20, their best result coming in the West Indies in 2010 when they finished runners-up to England.
"It is a format in which we still haven't been able to play well consistently against other countries in the world," Watson said. "We made the final in the West Indies and in the end we were pipped by England but since then, we haven't played consistently well, so we are really going to have to step up our Twenty20 game. With a change in players and the experience of playing in different Twenty20 leagues, it means hopefully we can step up when we really need to."
Watson has always been prone to injuries and missed a majority of the latest Australian summer through injury. He is confident he has put those injuries behind him going into a demanding season which starts with the five-match One-Day International series against England beginning at Lord's on Friday, June 29.
"I've learnt a lot about the way I am going to get the best out of myself as an allrounder, about my bowling workload and what my body can do,” said Watson. “I am trying to find the best ways to give myself the best chance of not getting injured."
"In the three months during the summer when I was injured, I learnt a lot and I have put a few things in place again to make sure that I am doing everything I can to give myself the best chance I can of staying fit."
The ODI series in England, Watson said, was the perfect build-up to the Ashes, also in England, next summer. "It is going to be a huge series," he said. "It is a great lead-in to next year's Ashes and there is no doubt we have to be at our absolute best for that one-day series, so our preparation is going to be very important, as is the way we perform. It is the first time for us with a slightly newer group of cricketers, a new coach Mickey Arthur and a new structure around us."