Mon | Feb 18, 2019

Windies aim for consistency

Published:Wednesday | January 23, 2019 | 12:48 AM
Windies captain Jason Holder fixes his sunglasses after a training session at the Kensington Oval in Barbados yesterday.

Underdogs West Indies will hope to shake off the controversy that has overshadowed their build-up and spring a major surprise when they take on powerhouses England in the the opening Test of the Wisden Trophy Series starting here today.

Ever since Englishman Richard Pybus was named interim head coach earlier this month, his controversial appointment has dominated the headlines and caused friction in the Caribbean fraternity.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) director Enoch Lewis slammed the appointment and then sparred publicly with fellow director, Barbadian Conde Riley, over the contentious issue. And last week, CWI said it had referred comments made by Lewis to its ethics committee, ­further increasing the rancour.

Almost unnoticed in the midst of the mayhem, the Windies have quietly gone about their ­preparation at a training camp here, and captain Jason Holder said yesterday the Caribbean side would not be distracted by the swirling controversy.

“This is the first time I’m working with him (Pybus) in a coaching capacity, and it’s been refreshing. He’s copped a lot of criticism off the field, but that is something that I really can’t control or get involved in,” Holder told reporters.

West Indies know that a strong performance over the next few days will immediately change the narrative, but will it be finding the consistency to produce such, which has proven challenging for the hosts in recent years.

They are coming off a chastening series in Bangladesh where they were swept 2-0, with neither Test lasting beyond three days. The tour capped off a disappointing year where the Windies managed just three wins in nine Tests.

Despite their wretched overall record in recent years, West Indies have not fared badly against England in the Caribbean. In the last series four years ago, they drew the first Test, got hammered and by nine wickets in the second but picked themselves up to win the final match at Kensington Oval by five wickets.

In the five-match series of 2009, West Indies won the first Test and drew the next four to earn a ­precious series win.

SQUADS:

WEST INDIES: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Shane Dowrich, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican, Shannon Gabriel, Shamarh Brooks, Alzarri Joseph.

ENGLAND: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Ben Foakes, Keaton Jennings, Jack Leach, Adil Rashid, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.