The last time off-spinner Shane Shillingford played a Test match at Windsor Park was in April 2012 against a team more potent than Zimbabwe – Australia.
Then he had the excellent match figures of 10 wickets for 219 runs.Tomorrow much attention will be on the tall Dominican in the second Test against Zimbabwe as the wicket is expected to take spin as it did to great effect last year.
Shillingford’s initial selection over Trinidad and Tobago’s talented off-spinner Sunil Narine raised some eyebrows, even though Narine’s last Test outing had not been a roaring success.But as former Jamaica and West Indies opener Wavell Hinds publicly suggested in his homeland, Shillingford was preferred at the start of the series because the intentions of the selectors was that he had to play in Dominica.
Whether that is so or not, he has returned to the side with a bang and was Man-of-the-Match in the three-day Barbados Test where he captured nine wickets.
Zimbabwe have been battered and bruised by the pace, but not dismissed, and spin has so far been their major bugbear. Shillingford should prove a handful.
West Indies assistant coach Toby Radford has called on his team for more of what they meted out to the Africans in Barbados as they fine-tuned their preparations for tomorrow’s second and final Test match.†
“The camp is very confident but we never take anyone lightly. We beat them in Grenada in the One-Dayers, we followed up with the Twenty20 wins in Antigua and we won the first Test last week in Barbados so things are going the way we want it. We trained today as we normally do, which is very hard, and we will look to put together another good performance,” Radford said.
“Every game is important. We want to make sure the Zimbabweans don’t win a game on this tour. We want to send them home empty-handed. We have had a really good run in Test cricket this last year – we did well against New Zealand, we did really well in Bangladesh and we would like to follow that up with a complete sweep here as well.”
After sixth consecutive win
The three-day victory by nine wickets in Barbados was the fifth in a row for the West Indies and they will be looking for their sixth consecutive win – going back to August last year when they beat New Zealand in Antigua and Jamaica; and last November when they beat Bangladesh in Dhaka and Khulna.
The composition of the team will be captain Darren Sammy and coach Ottis Gibson’s main consideration.
However, Sammy has suggested that he will maintain a balance of five specialist batsmen, a keeper, four main bowlers and himself as a Jack of two trades and master of neither.
Fast bowlers Kemar Roach, Tino Best and Shannon Gabriel bristled with threat in the first Test and caused the Zimbabweans many uncomfortable moments. But one of them might have to give way if a spinners’ track greets the teams tomorrow and a decision is made to include left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul.
Roach is leader of the pack and barring injury is certain to play. Best went wicket-less in Barbados while Gabriel captured four wickets on his return to Test cricket following an injury he picked up on the tour to England last year. If either is omitted he could consider himself a tad unfortunate.
West Indies’ batting was below par in the first Test, with a score of just over 300 proving a mountain too tall for the weak visitors. Marlon Samuels looked in sublime touch but over-confidence and one shot too many proved his undoing. He will be seeking to make amends.Opener Kieran Powell had two failures in Barbados and will be hoping to return to the rich vein of form which he showed in the last series against Bangladesh and New Zealand. Opening partner Chris Gayle looked secure during his knock but then copped a brutal delivery to cut short a promising start. He will be hoping for a more productive period in Roseau.
The encounter presents Zimbabwe with their last opportunity to salvage something from what has been a disappointing tour, especially for captain Brendon Taylor. He had scores on of 8, 0 & 39 in the ODIs, 0 & 4 in the Twenty20s, 20 & 20 in the three-day tour match, and 26 & 6 in the Barbados Test. Not the best example of leading from the front.
Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer provided boundaries on request in Barbados and could give way for the steadier off-spin of Prosper Utseya. Fast bowler Kyle Jarvis bowled brilliantly in the first Test and again looks Zimbabwe’s best bet of making significant inroads into their hosts often fragile and unpredictable batting.
West Indies (likely) Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (capt), Shane Shillingford, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel
Zimbabwe (possible) Tino Mawoyo, Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (capt), Craig Ervine, Malcolm Waller/Sean Williams, Regis Chakabva (wk), Prosper Utseya, Ray Price, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara††