West Indies Kraigg Brathwaite captain, and Phil Simmons, the head coach, cautioned against setting too much significance by the non-selection of England pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
West Indies will be focused on ensuring that their batters grind out enough runs for the bowlers to put England’s revamped Test side under pressure in Antigua, rather than worrying about who is or isn’t in the XI for the tourists.
West Indies come into the series with just one win in their last eight Tests. During that time, they have passed 300 just once in 16 innings, and been bowled out for fewer than 200 on seven occasions.
Phil Simmons Wants West Indies Openers To Provide A Solid Start
Desmond Haynes’ selection panel brought back John Campbell and Shamarh Brooks – who last played in March 2021 and December 2020 respectively – and dropped Shai Hope and Roston Chase from the squad.
While opener John Campbell has just two half-centuries to his name in 15 Tests, he made four scores between 33 and 47 in his debut series against England three years ago, and returns to the side after scoring a century for Jamaica in the regional four-day championship.
“I think the last time England were here, and we beat them, the opening pair was Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell,” Simmons said. “So let’s hope that’s a good omen for us, because they are back together and they gave the team some good starts.”
“That’s been the aspect of the five-day camp that we had, addressing the fact that batsmen need to bat long, we need to make sure we give the bowlers something to work with.”
Kraigg Brathwaite’s predecessor Jason Holder was able to carry the proud tradition on, sealing a 2-1 win over England when they last visited in 2019. Jason Holder has been a thorn in England’s side previously – averaging 62.83 with the bat and 24.93 with the ball in five home games against them – and is being backed to rise to the occasion again.
Kraigg Brathwaite Confident And Looking Forward To The Challenge
After leading West Indies to a memorable 2-0 win in Bangladesh in February 2021, Kraigg Brathwaite has seen the team’s fortunes dip, with a drawn home series against Sri Lanka followed by three consecutive defeats. West Indies can draw on a strong home record against England, however, and Kraigg Brathwaite was confident that the hosts have enough firepower to maintain their edge.
“As a team, we’re really looking forward to it,” Kraigg Brathwaite said. “We’re feeling confident, and maybe not worrying about England’s team, but what we do as a team and we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”
“I think the series itself is always different to every other series we have. We’re generally very good at home, especially the bowlers do a fantastic job at home. And obviously it’s also our job as batters to get runs, but the series always has a lot of energy and at times that can inspire guys, ” Kraigg Brathwaite said.
The fragility of the batting on both sides is underlined by the fact that only one player other than Joe Root – West Indies’ No. 3 Nkrumah Bonner – currently averages more than 40 in Test cricket. Phil Simmons warned that West Indies could not afford to be complacent about the calibre of the attack fielded by England without experienced pacers Stuart Broad and James Anderson.
“You can call it an advantage but again, no Broad, no Anderson, we keep harping on that,” he said. “So we have not been looking at the fact that there’s no Broad and Anderson, we’ve been looking at who there is, and there’s still some quality bowlers in there, which we still have to bat against.”
Phil Simmons was impressed by the progress of Shannon Gabriel after he joined the squad in Antigua to continue his rehab from a hamstring injury.
“He’s a lot further on than I thought he was,” Simmons said. “He bowled with some pace today, so we’ll see what happens over the next four or five days. This squad was selected for the first Test, so we’ll see where he’s at while he’s training with us and then we can make a decision on the second Test.”