It’s not been great for the Windies in the longest format. Unlike their Twenty20 side, they don’t boast of star players in Tests. A few youngsters are showing some promise and putting up a brave fight once in a while, but the team as a whole has failed to display the kind of performances that would help a side win Test matches.
England, on the other hand, are just off their first home Test series win against South Africa since 1998. There are some worries in the batting department, but they are good enough to take on the best in the world in their own backyard. However, Windies coach Stuart Law has warned England to not be complacent of the challenge at hand when his side tours for a three-match Test series. He further added that England could slip up if they look at the series against the Windies as merely warm-up for the upcoming Ashes.
“There have been things said about this being a warm-up for the Ashes and as an Australian I know that is very much still the No. 1 series on the calendar,” Law told The Daily Mail. “England will want to take their players to Australia in good form but if they believe we’re just going to turn up and crumble it could backfire on them because we’re not thinking that way.
“I’m sure some see this as a mis-match and I’ve been involved in a few of those thought processes. Underestimating a side can be detrimental to a team’s health. If that’s the case with England now it will be great for us.”
England’s top order, barring Alastair Cook and Joe Root, is not only inexperienced but has also failed to post big scores. Keaton Jennings, Dawid Malan, Gary Ballance and Tom Westley’s low scores in the series against South Africa got Damien Fleming to term them as ‘some of the worst batsmen I’ve ever seen play Test cricket.’ This weakness is something that hasn’t missed Law’s eyes, and the coach is hoping to cash in on that, and also possibly help Australia by exposing more woes in the English top order.
“If we can get Shannon Gabriel up to bowling a hundred miles an hour he could break a few hands and that would help Australia!” Law said jokingly. “No, we’re not out to hurt anyone. I’m not really bothered about Australia’s fortunes because right now I’m concentrating solely on West Indies and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
But even as he warns England to be wary, Law admits that West Indies have a lot of ground to cover to be at par with some of the better Test sides in the world. He stresses on the need to have a patient approach and a steady progress in order to make the team stronger in the longest format.
“Steady improvement is our target but I believe if we play anywhere near our capabilities we’ve got the chance of nipping a Test match,” Law stated. “So regardless of the result of the series I’m pretty confident we will go close to upsetting certain people in the English public who doubt us when we get out there.
“We’re achieving small targets all the time and long may that continue because we’ve got a massive wall to build and we can’t put it together in a week. We will do it slowly but make sure everything we do will benefit West Indies.”
Chris Gayle, who last played a Test in 2014, has expressed his desire to return to play in the five-day format. However, with age not on his side and fitness issues to deal with in an otherwise packed T20 calender, it looks like a distant dream for the 103-Test veteran. Law said the Jamaican’s wish to get back to play Test cricket is a good sign for the game, but added that it will become difficult for him to make a comeback.
“The players who haven’t played Test cricket for a while still seem to have a thought bouncing around their heads that they want to,” said Law. “If that’s the case, great, because cricket teams are built with youthful exuberance and energy matched with cool, calm experience. We haven’t got too much experience and if it ever bears fruit the kids will only get better.
“Chris has expressed a desire to play Tests again but whether that becomes reality remains to be seen. He’s not 21 anymore and Test cricket is a lot longer than 20 or 50 overs. It’s just a matter of working out whether it can happen. If not we will keep on trying to find ways to make these kids better.”