Captains not ruling out all out pace
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - A pace quartet, a norm for Kensington Oval pitches in years gone by, could be a serious option for both teams in the first Digicel Test between West Indies and Australia starting tomorrow.
While both camps remained non-committal about their balance of attack yesterday, West Indies captain Darren Sammy and his Australian counterpart Michael Clarke did not rule out the possibility of a heavily biased pace attack at the ground that has produced quick, bouncy surfaces in regional competitions this season.
“I still haven’t seen the pitch out here, but going from the tour game, I’d like all four quicks to play, to be honest,” Clarke told reporters just before Australia took to the nets at Kensington.
“They bowled beautifully and both spinners bowled well. There are a couple of tough selections for us but it’s a pretty good place for the team to be at if we’ve got dilemmas like that.
“We’ll have a look at conditions. In my time playing in Barbados, it’s a wicket that has been suited more to playing three fast bowlers, a frontline spinner and a couple of part-time spinners.”
In the build-up to the Test, Australia brushed aside a West Indies Cricket Board President’s XI comfortably in a shade over two days at 3Ws Oval.
It was a match they were afforded a chance to field four fast bowlers – Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle – primarily because of the relaxed rules that allowed teams to use 12 players.
West Indies have assembled a 13-man squad that includes pacers Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul and the fast medium stuff of Sammy.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who has been a consistent member of the team since making his Test debut last year, is also in the unit but some observers reckon that if courses dictate horses, he might have to sit this one out.
“We have 13 guys on the team. Everyone will be considered. In the Test match here last year against India, when we bowled them out for under 300 in the first innings . . . all of our fast bowlers did well,” Sammy said.
“It’s a possibility but the selectors will come up with the best combination. Our bowling combination didn’t do badly here last year.”
On the heels of highly competitive series in the shorter forms of the game, there is anticipation of another keen tussle in the Tests.
In the aftermath of a 2-2 series tie in the One-Day Internationals and the 1-1 share in the Twenty20 Internationals, neither side can boast of carrying the edge in the longer matches.
“I’m going say, Australia. They are going to say, West Indies,” Clarke said. “It’s been a very good indication to where both teams are at. The cricket has been outstanding. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to play in the One-Day series.
“It’s been some really hard fought cricket. It’s been great for the game and I’m sure Darren [Sammy] will agree we want the Test matches to [be] the same.”
It was a view endorsed by the West Indies captain who felt the real test was now at hand.