Roston Chase and Shai Hope will be the backbone of the West Indies batting in the future.
That is the prediction of former West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman and cricket commentator, Jeffrey Dujon.
Last week, Chase and Hope played pivotal roles with their bats to help the West Indies defeat Pakistan by 106 in the second Test at Kensington Oval. Chase scored his second Test century (131) in the West Indies first innings. Hope compiled 90, his first major Test score on a deteriorating pitch in the second innings.
“I publicly expressed my admiration for Roston Chase and Shai Hope last year. Chase scored a century in his second Test. Even though Hope took a while to play a major innings I always knew he had the skills to do so. Those two will form the backbone of West Indies’ batting in time to come,” Dujon told Barbados TODAY.
He also expressed delight at the way fast bowler Shannon Gabriel has developed in the past year.
“He has shown definite improvement over the last 12 months both in his control, the way he positions the seam of the ball and his fitness. That is a good sign. The West Indies needs two strike bowlers and he has set himself up as one of them,” Dujon said.
The former wicketkeeper who kept wicket to some of the greatest fast bowlers produced in the West Indies said young pacer Alzarri Joseph was still a work in progress.
“Alzarri has good pace, and I think that overtime with the right guidance which I am sure he will get, he will also develop,” Dujon said, adding the young Antiguan did more through the air with the ball than Gabriel and was a good prospect for the future.
Dujon warned fans not to get carried away with West Indies’ victory over Pakistan in the second Test at Kensington Oval last week.
“The fact is we are still not playing good enough cricket to compete with the best. This win, has a lot to do with who was batting last on a pitch that I don’t think was a particularly good one. Had the West Indies been batting second, they probably would have been in the same position as Pakistan,” Dujon said.
“I am very glad the West Indies won the match to keep the series alive and give themselves a chance to win the series in the final Test. It should give the team confidence and show them what is possible. Hopefully they will raise their performance and do better in the next Test match,” he added.
Dujon was extremely concerned over the state of the pitches throughout the region.
“I have been concerned about the state of pitches in the region for a very long time. When I played most of the pitches were hard, fast and bouncy. We don’t seem to be able to produce those types of pitches anymore. This is an area we need to improve on. The pitch at Kensington was very surprising to me. On the fifth day it looked more like a sub-continent pitch. I think that is an area we got to try a bit harder to improve on,” he stated.
Dujon said the West Indies were in a “tight position” and there were a number of problems from the administration level down. Dujon indicated he preferred to discuss the issues related to cricket on the field rather than off it.
He stated the genesis of the probems facing West Indies cricket were due to the lack of development programmes for young cricketers in the region.
“I am referring to programmes designed not just to coach youngsters but to teach them the game. I have found that a lot of the players are going through the different age levels of our cricket without the proper fundamentals. Because of the low standard of the cricket a lot of them are getting to the higher levels without the requisite tools, technical and mental, to really compete there,” he lamented.
He cited the standard of regional first class cricket as a prime example. He stressed the need for an improvement of the standard of coaching at the various youth levels.
Dujon suggested there was a disconnect somewhere in the regional structure because young cricketers did not develop with the requisite skills to compete at the next level.
“This is demonstrated in our first class averages – batting and bowling. The fact that bowlers who take the most wickets cannot make the West Indies team is reflective of the batting. If you look at the Test averages they are very ordinary. There is an element that is missing,” Dujon said.
He said the West Indies Cricket Board should establish an Under-23 team to help young cricketers gain experience.
“I think the best kind of development, if we are not going to do what needs to be done locally, is to send our best young players on tour. This will teach them how to play in different conditions. It will also give them a better chance of coming into internationals well equipped,” Dujon said.
He added: “Eventually the standard of our cricket will improve. If we start now, I think the members of the next good West Indies team are about fourteen years right now.
“We have got to put some energy, finance and focus on those areas, while we are still looking to play good international cricket. I think this is something that would pay off. It is not going to happen overnight and the West Indies team as it is now will not be turned into a front line international team [right away],” Dujon said.