JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CMC) – With pundits already writing off West Indies’ chances against World number one South Africa, assistant coach Stuart Williams has warned the Caribbean side will not simply roll over and play dead.
West Indies are languishing at number eight in the Test team rankings and have been given virtually no chance of winning the three-Test series, which bowls off on December 17 in Centurion.
But Williams said the Windies had already acknowledged the tough nature of their assignment and were ready to make their mark on the series.
“We have come here to compete. Obviously, we have our hands full. It is a tough task playing against South Africa at home,” Williams told reporters in Johannesburg.
“They are the number one team, but we’re not going to come here and lay down. We are coming to play some positive cricket and we want to win.”
To beat the Proteas, West Indies will also have to defy the weight of history. Not since the one-off Test in the Caribbean have they defeated South Africa in a series. Further, they have won just one of 12 Tests on South African soil, losing 10 and drawing one.
However, Williams said there was a strong determination among the group to do well, and said the presence of experienced former players like Sir Richie Richardson and Sir Curtly Ambrose on the management team, would play a key role on the tour.
“Having Ambi and Richie here … helps the guys with their self-belief, commitment and discipline and that sort of stuff,” said Williams.
“Our management team and everyone are working together to make this tour a successful tour.”
West Indies have already been setback by the withdrawal of superstar opener Chris Gayle, who is one of two players in the squad with over 100 Tests, and Darren Bravo, who has emerged as one of the mainstays of the batting in recent years.
They have been replaced by Devon Smith, who averages an unflattering 24 from 33 Tests and Assad Fudadin, who played the last of this three Tests nearly 2-1/2 years ago.
Williams, however, remained positive West Indies could overcome these challenges.
“When you have a young team missing Chris Gayle and Bravo, it is always going to be a difficult task, but it is an opportunity for the younger guys to put up their hands and perform,” Williams contended.
“It is fortunate for us that we are coming out of the first class cricket (in the Caribbean). Kraigg Brathwaite he got a hundred, Devon Smith he got a hundred under his belt … (Jermaine) Blackwood, (Leon) Johnson, these guys are young and upcoming batsmen (and will be looking to do well), and what better place to come and play than South Africa.”
He added: “All in all, things are looking up. We just want to ease into the tour and ease into the first three-day game and into the Test.”