Simmons still wary of Windies openers
GROS ISLET, St Lucia (CMC):
Head coach Phil Simmons has conceded that the lack of substantive opening partnerships is becoming a worry, following West Indies’ chastening innings and 63-run defeat to South Africa here last weekend.
The home side produced two feeble batting performances – bowled out for 97 and 162 – with Roston Chase getting their only half-century of the game.
Captain Kraigg Brathwaite and the recalled Shai Hope out on 24 in the first innings while Brathwaite and Kieran Powell – a concussion substitute for Nkrumah Bonner – managed only 12 in the second innings.
Over their last 18 Test innings, West Indies have scraped only two half-century stands, with the highest being 66 in the second Test against Bangladesh last February.
“That is one of the things we’ve been trying to work on very desperately because if you watch back a lot of times we win Test matches against the top teams, we have good opening stands,” Simmons said.
“Against England the last time [in 2019], we had good opening stands between John Campbell and Kraigg. That has not been happening and we’re working very hard on that.
“It’s disappointing because when you look at the last seven Test hundreds scored by an opener, I think they’re all scored by Kraigg.”
OMITTED FROM SERIES
Campbell was omitted for the ongoing series for poor form while Brathwaite recaptured his with a hundred and half-century in the previous Test against Sri Lanka in Antigua.
However, Hope, recalled as an opener, failed in the first innings against the Proteas with 15 while Powell got 14 in the second as Hope dropped down to number three.
With Hope failing to produce the runs expected at the top of the order, questions are already being asked about his suitability as an opener in Test cricket but Simmons defended the player.
“I think he has the ability to bat anywhere in the top six that he wants to bat,” Simmons said.
“And it’s a case of this is the position he was asked [to bat] because of where he scored his runs leading into the [Test] but … international cricket works like that sometimes.
“Powell came in and we decided that Powell would open and he (Hope) would bat at three.”
West Indies take on South Africa in the second Test starting here Friday, hoping for a win to level the series and keep their unbeaten series record this year intact.
West Indies were ranked sixth at the start of the series, one ahead of South Africa.