West Indies expect heavy dose of spin in Test series

Saturday, 13 November 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

West Indies Head Coach Phil Simmons said that his team was prepared for a heavy dose of spin from Sri Lanka in

West Indies Head Coach Phil Simmons

the upcoming two-Test series of the World Test Championship to be played at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.

“I think there will be a heavy dose of spin coming from them. We saw that against England. They opened the bowling with a spinner, so we will be addressing a lot on how we combat that spin with the new ball and bat normally after that,” said Simmons in a virtual media conference yesterday.

“We played spin alright in Bangladesh. We did what we had to do to score the runs we needed and to win the games. We need to bring that same sort of mentality that we had on that away tour. When you play against quality spinners you have to change their mode especially left and right at the crease. It is something that we are going to discuss and put into practice.”

Against Joe Root’s Englishmen in January this year, Sri Lanka opened the bowling with left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya in the two Tests played at Galle.

West Indies will probably employ the same strategies that worked for them so well in Bangladesh at the start of the year where they combated their spinners so successfully to win the series 2-0 with off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall (14) and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican (10) playing the lead roles taking 24 wickets between them. By winning in Bangladesh, West Indies showed that they had the acumen to play spin as well as get sides out with their spinners.  

Simmons is quite aware of what lies ahead for his team at Galle in the two-Test series against Sri Lanka.

“Facing Sri Lanka at home is a difficult task and it is no different now. I think it will be close to the team that we had in the Caribbean, quite a few young guys who played in that series are still there and it’s going to be a tough series. We know that when we come to the subcontinent it’s always going to be tough, so we want to make sure in this four-day game we give our fighting spirit especially when it comes to batting because that’s going to be the most difficult aspect of this tour.”

Simmons feels playing with the Kookaburra ball in Sri Lanka and the Dukes ball in the Caribbean would make a huge difference and the four-day warm-up match that is coming up at the SSC for them starting Sunday would be vital in getting used to the conditions they would face in Sri Lanka.

“After a disappointing T20 World Cup we want to get back to winning ways. It will be nice to finish the year the way we started it,” said Simmons.

West Indies began 2021 with a 2-0 away win against Bangladesh and followed it up with a drawn (0-0) 2-Test series against Sri Lanka in the Caribbean. They were beaten 2-0 at home by South Africa and drew 1-all at home against Pakistan.

Captain Kraig Brathwaite said West Indies will be aiming to be higher in the second World Test Championship which starts with the Sri Lankan series.

“The first time around we saw where we are in the first World Test Championship, we aim to be higher and we want to be in the final. We are taking it game by game and want to make the region proud in terms of the Test championship,” said Brathwaite.

West Indies finished eighth out of nine in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship, one rank below Sri Lanka who ended up seventh.

Questioned what he intends to do during the Sri Lankan series, Brathwaite said, “I need to lead from the front as a skipper and as opening batsman my job is to lay the foundation.”

Brathwaite is likely to have a new opening partner in Jeremy Solozano who is the only uncapped player in their 15-strong squad.

International teams these days due to the CORONA-19 virus and health protocols they have to observe bring extra players along with them. But not this West Indies side who have brought only the customary 15 players.

Questioned as to why, Simmons replied, “The West indies budget cannot afford to have 22 players on tour that is why we brought only 15.”