Energised WI chase Test success
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – West Indies will seek to extend their fairytale run in what has been a fascinating series, when they face Australia in the first Digicel Test, starting on Saturday at Kensington Oval here.
The Windies defied the odds to grab a share of the spoils in the preceding Digicel One-day and Digicel Twenty20 International series.
They came from behind to tie the five-match Digicel ODI Series 2-2 and also rebounded to tie the two-match Digicel T20 Series 1-1.
This has set the stage for an enthralling three-match Digicel Test series.
With this momentum behind them, the home team will be hoping to make a huge impact against the Aussies, who they have not beaten in a Test in nine years.
“If we bring out the same attitude we showed in the Digicel ODIs and Digicel T20Is, we can do well again,” Sammy told reporters at a media briefing on Thursday.
“The coach has a goal for the team. . . [He] has stressed on professionalism and you can see the team is improving.”
He added: “For me as captain, it’s a simple task – to get the guys to gel well, play together, and go out there and execute the team plan because the more we think team, the more results we will get.
“The fact we can go out on the field and look like a unit and that never say die attitude, that’s been the most important thing. As we saw in the limited-overs games, we’ve been down less than 100 for five in a few games and still posted over 200.”
West Indies are aware however, their dynamics will be different, as they will be without key players who made major contributions during the Digicel ODI and Digicel T20I series.
Exciting off-spinner Sunil Narine is unavailable due to his Indian Premier League commitments as are batsmen Kieron Pollard and Marlon Samuels, along with all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.
“The selectors will come up with the best combination they think will give us the best chance of winning, but our bowling combination didn’t do too badly over the last year,” said Sammy.
“Our batting has to play a crucial role in this series. . .The batting has shown that they are capable of scoring runs, so it’s very important that the top six get the bulk of the runs – Kirk (Edwards), (Darren) Bravo, Shiv (Chanderpaul), Narsingh (Deonarine) and the young openers (Adrian Barath, Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell).
“We hope that they dig in and find a way to score runs, but it’s going to take a team effort to pile on the runs against the Aussies.”
Admittedly, the Windies batsmen have been short of runs in recent months. Darren Bravo, the leading scorer over the last year with three centuries in his last eight Test innings, has endured a wretched patch of form.
He gathered just 48 runs from five innings in the recent Digicel ODI Series and got only 12 in the first Twenty20.
Returning to Trinidad & Tobago’s side for the semi-final of the Regional 4-Day Tournament against Barbados last weekend in an attempt to find form, he failed again with scores of 13 and seven.
The openers will also be a source of concern as well. Brathwaite scored just 90 runs in his last five innings for Barbados, while Powell, with only one score over 50 in the first class tournament this year, was dropped from the Windies One-day side after scores of 8, 0 and 12 in the triple-header last month in St. Vincent.
Adrian Barath however, with a century for T&T last month and good knocks in the last two Digicel ODIs against the Aussies, appears in good touch.
Much will depend on Kirk Edwards and veteran left-hander Chanderpaul, while it is hoped that Deonarine will extend his form from the first-class tournament that brought him 582 runs at an average of 44.76.
West Indies bowling will be based around the pace of Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach, the latter of whom bowled well in the Digicel ODI Series.
Fast bowler Ravi Rampaul may be short of work however, having played just one match during the R4T because of injury and illness. Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo may earn the last bowling spot.
With the limited-overs matches behind them, Sammy said West Indies needed to be patient as Test matches required application.
“Three sessions in a day, whoever wins the most sessions will be the more successful,” he said.
“In Tests, it only takes one bad session, one bad hour, and your back is against the wall.
“It’s going to be a test of mental strength and technique because at the end of the day, Test matches are where everything is put to the test.”
Australia will enter the Test on a high after easily winning their three-day, tour match against the WICB President’s XI, which finished on Wednesday at the Three Ws Oval here.
There were no outstanding performances, but their captain Michael Clarke, who missed the limited-overs matches while recovering from injury, said he and his side were ready for the encounter.
“I’m excited to be back out there,” he said. “I felt like I hit the ball pretty sweet in the first innings [of the tour match].
“Like all batsmen, I would have liked to make some more runs, I’d like to still be batting now. Hopefully, I’ve saved a few for this first Test match.”
Australia on Friday whittled down their squad to 12.
WEST INDIES (from): Darren Sammy (captain), Kirk Edwards (vice-captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh, Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Fidel Edwards, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach
AUSTRALIA (from): Michael Clarke (captain), Shane Watson (vice-captain), Ed Cowan, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Matthew Wade, David Warner
UMPIRES: Ian Gould (England), Tony Hill (New Zealand)
TV UMPIRE: Marais Erasmus (South Africa)
MATCH REFEREE: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand)
RESERVE UMPIRE: Gregory Brathwaite (Barbados/West Indies)
(All times East Caribbean)
Morning Period 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Afternoon Period 12:40 to 2:40 p.m.
Evening Period 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.