LONDON – Ottis Gibson put his faith in the young, inexperienced West Indies top-order batting to rise to the challenge, when they face England in the first of three Tests, starting on Thursday at Lord’s.
The West Indies coach said this series presents the players with another opportunity to take up the challenge and play their best against the World No.1 side.
“I suppose in the context of playing in England, it will be tough, but sometimes, the best place to get experience is out in the middle,” said Gibson. “We know it’s going to be a challenge for them – but the selectors have got a lot of confidence in them, as I have.
He added: “We know they are good players – they’ve proven that at home. Not a lot of people perform outstandingly well at home and, bearing in mind we are still in a rebuilding phase, these guys are the guys the selectors have decided are the ones they want to have first go at rebuilding the Test team.”
Gibson said the second innings of the warm-up match against the England Lions was more like what he expected from the batting of the team.
West Indies made 390 in their second innings, after they were dismissed for 147 in the first innings in the four-day, first-class tour match at Wantage Road.
The coach said the most pleasing aspect of the performance was the way the team fought back from 28 for three and almost made 400.
“They were a little bit disappointed after the first innings and I had to step in and say, ‘you shouldn’t be disappointed because if we’d bowled first, in those conditions on the first day I believe we would have bowled [the England Lions] out for a similar score’,” said Gibson.
“In the second innings, Kieran Powell played very well and got a hundred. He’s feeling pretty confident right now, he has a smile on his face.
“Darren Bravo, who’d been playing well for us for the last year-and-a-half, he played well and got two half-centuries.
“We know what Shivnarine Chanderpaul can do, Denesh Ramdin got a good knock and Marlon Samuels got a good knock.”
Gibson said consideration had been given to elevating veteran left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the current World No. 1 Test batsman, from his regular No. 5 slot to add greater stability to the batting.
“Our batting revolves around Shiv – he’s very comfortable in the position he is at the moment and he’s doing a good job for us,” he said.
“Without trying to upset the batting line-up too much, we’ve decided to leave it as it is at the moment.”
Gibson said: “It’s something we haven’t completely ruled out, but it’s something we will have to revisit at some stage.
“If it is a team decision, then I am sure he will be very happy [to move up].”
Gibson also brushed aside concerns about the bowling attack following concerns about Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach.
“Everybody pulled up okay,” said Gibson. “It all goes back to managing niggles with the Lord’s Test on Thursday being the big event in mind.
“Kemar twisted his ankle at Northants – he’s been treated twice a day for the last couple of days. He had a little bowl today, about six overs, pretty controlled. . .no complaints, so at this stage he’s doing okay.
“Ravi was just a twisted neck from sleeping badly or just staying up too late watching TV or playing Playstation! He’s fine and Fidel is fine also. Everything looks all set for Thursday.”