The first Test match between West Indies and England looms, and during the dramatic build-up, the batting has been placed under the fire more than ever. Cricket pundits and former West Indies players have noted that the batting group is the weak point, in contrast to the strong bowling department.
Appearing on the Mason and Guest radio programme earlier this week, current West Indies batting coach Floyd Reifer explained that there are no concerns for the West Indies heading into the first Test match.
“I keep hearing everyone saying that they are concerned about our batting. We have some experienced guys here, the boys have been working very hard, and they understand the English conditions now,” he offered.
Reifer added that the likes of Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, who were here before, are now players experienced in English conditions. “Brooks has also been practising hard, Dowrich is looking good so, we are working on playing the ball as late as possible, and trying to leave alone as well,” the batting coach explained.
Further, he noted that the batting group has been engaging in many discussions about rotating the strike, how to build that innings, and capitalising on getting big scores. With most of the Test batsmen getting starts and showing glimpses of form, Reifer posited that the warm-up matches have placed the batsmen in game scenarios, and they would be eager to get going when the first ball of the first Test bowls off.
Consistency has been lacking for the West Indies batsmen. Hope has displayed consistency in the ODI format, but is yet to transfer that into the Test format. Head Coach Phil Simmons had earlier called for the team to post targets of 400-450 in order to give the team a strong chance at obtaining victory.
With Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer opting out of the tour, many believe this has left grave deficiency in the batting order. Bravo has played in 54 Test matches and has an average of 37.6.
On tour, the inexperienced Shamahr Brooks has the best batting average:34, but is only three Test matches old into his career.
Brathwaite, has a batting average of 33 in 59 Tests, and is the most experienced batsman on tour.
Captain Jason Holder has a batting average of 32 in his 40 matches, while Roston Chase has a batting average of 31 in 32 Tests. Jermaine Blackwood, returning to the Test squad, has an average of 30, as does Shane Dowrich.
Opener John Campbell averages 29, while Hope has the poorest Test average among the Test batsmen in the team at 27, similar to Hetmyer, who opted out of the tour.
Uncapped Jamaican Nkumrah Bonner has constructed his innings well in Regional 4-Day cricket, and this tour would be the perfect opportunity for him to announce himself to International cricket and cement a place in the West Indies team.
Only time well if the batting would click against the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer.