West Indies would have to set a new record if they are to win the first Test against England but their coach Phil Simmons believes they can do it.
Simmons knows that no team has ever successfully chased more than 418 to win a Test but feels that, on a flat Antigua wicket, his side can overhaul their target of 438.
While Simmons admitted that West Indies had “given away” the initiative in the match on a couple of occasions, he described conditions as “easy” for batting and felt that, given a good start, they could create history.
“We’re a team that scores quickly,” he said. “We’ll assess what we need in every session and make a decision whether to go for it at tea.
“The first hour will be important: we need to not lose any wickets in the first hour. But with me it’s always a case of looking how you can get the runs before you look at how you can save it.
“We saw today that it’s hard to take wickets on this pitch. It’s easy for guys to score. We scored freely.
“Yes, they were on the attack all the time. But also when we tried to be on the defensive, Gary Ballance and Jos Buttler still scored freely, so it’s hard to contain batsmen when it’s as easy as that.”
Despite feeling his side still had an outside chance of victory, Simmons conceded they had been given a lesson in the virtues of consistency by England.
“England have shown us that we need to think a lot about the way we play Test cricket,” he said. “We started well on the first morning, but then we gave it away in the other two sessions.
“And the same thing happened today. We didn’t bowl as well as we could have done this morning so they got away and, as a result, they have more time to bowl at us. But then we also have more time to score the runs.”
Simmons also admitted that the balance of his side – containing only four specialist bowlers – might have contributed to West Indies fading in the field after good starts. But he expressed satisfaction at the “ability and character” he had seen within his side in his first game in charge.
“It’s a little bit about that,” he said. “The bowlers had a hard first innings and then a hard few hours this morning. The players have had a long, sustained four or five months, so coming into this it’s hard.
“We will learn more about the team tomorrow. We have to fight to the end whether we’re trying to win or save it.
“But I have learned a lot. There is ability and there is character. We fought back on the second morning, so there are positives to take from this Test.”