Not that the two sets of players were the best of friends before but Australia’s Group 2 clash with West Indies here on Friday has been imbued with extra edge after comments from both sides.
On Wednesday, the Australian all-rounder James Faulkner fired a shot across the bows with his extraordinary remarks.
“I don’t particularly like them (West Indies),” he said. “No one in particular. Good players are good players.
Getting under the skin
“You have to do things to get under their skin and try and irritate them to try and get them off their game. Players do that to me and I do it to other players.”
He would like to see West Indies knocked out of the tournament, Faulkner added. “Definitely. There are a few players I would like to knock over and more importantly I’d like to beat them. I’m looking forward to it.”
Faulkner has had previous tiffs with West Indies. Last year, he was pulled up by the match referee for swearing at Chris Gayle after dismissing him in an ODI in Canberra.
The teams share the same hotel and asked if he had bumped into Gayle there, Faulkner said: “I haven’t seen him. I’ll say hello though.
“I’m always polite. But I won’t be saying ‘hello’ if I’m playing on Friday.”
The West Indies captain Darren Sammy responded in his pre-match conference on Thursday. “The Australians normally have a lot to say, but we are here to play cricket,” he said.
“I think probably James (Faulkner) is the only cricketer who does not love West Indians. I could safely say West Indies are the second favourite team for the fans. It does not bother us. Talk is talk. He can say all he wants.”
Asked if those words would serve as extra motivation, Sammy smiled. “The last time we played them in a World Cup (World T20 semifinals, 2012) we all know what happened,” he said. “Anybody can talk.
“We are not threatened by them. Once we play to our full potential, which we haven’t so far in this tournament, we will be very destructive. And we were destructive in that last World Cup semifinal.”