CENTURION, South Africa – West Indies chief selector Clive Lloyd believes the Caribbean side can overcome their shortage of preparation matches and excel in the three-Test series against World number one South Africa.
The legendary former West Indies captain, who has lamented the lone warm-up match on the tour, said he hoped the younger players, especially, grasped the opportunity presented and capitalised on it.
“Not playing a lot of games leading up to the Test match is a bit of a worry, but I am confident they will do very well. We saw how Marlon Samuels and Devon Smith played so beautifully in the warm-up match and that has given the team confidence,” said Lloyd, appointed to his new role last August.
“It is the younger batsmen I want to see take this opportunity. We have the batsmen, and if they apply themselves, this will be a very good series. We want to play against the best and do well against the best.
“We are missing some of our seasoned players and I want to see the youngsters come out and fight. Representing your country is probably the most important thing you can be called upon to do.”
West Indies suffered two major blows to their batting prior to the tour, with veteran opener Chris Gayle and high-class top order batsman Darren Bravo both opting out for varying reasons.
Devon Smith, who has played 33 Tests in a chequered career, was called up to replace Gayle while another left-hander, Assad Fudadin, with three Tests to his name, replaced Bravo.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Kraigg Brathwaite, though slowly cementing himself as the side’s number one opener, is touring South Africa for the first time, while Leon Johnson and Jermaine Blackwood have played only four Tests between them.
However, Lloyd said playing against Test cricket’s number one side should provide enough motivation for the unproven players to perform.
“This is a chance for youngsters to go out there and show their mettle. They are playing against one of the best teams in the world. That alone should galvanise them to do well,” said Lloyd, who captained West Indies to victory in the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979.
“We have youngsters here who we feel are good enough. Wherever we go, West Indies players are still respected because of what we achieved over the years and now they have their own era to work on. I hope that they do.
“This is the best stage you can have. It’s a wonderful country, terrific people and they love sport. If you can make a name for yourself here, you’re on a roll, and on the way to big things ahead.”
West Indies face the Proteas in the first Test, starting tomorrow (Wednesday) at SuperSport Park. (CMC)