MANCHESTER, England – Head coach Phil Simmons wants his batsmen to hit the ground running from the first Test to avoid West Indies having to play catch-up in the three-Test series which bowls off next month.
With concerns already surrounding the Caribbean side’s batting, Simmons said he hoped the senior players would be at their best from the start, as West Indies chased their first series in in England in 32 years.
“I think most of the senior batsmen are seasoned players,” Simmons told reporters via Zoom from Old Trafford.
“Mentally I think they’re tough but I think we just need to continue working on our skills because I think when you look back at Kraigg, Roston and Shai, they’re mentally tough because they’ve done it at this level so it’s about making sure they’re sharp and ready to go in the first game.
“We’ve had occasions when we’ve toured and only after the first game we start really playing cricket so it’s something we’re trying to get out of our system and make sure we are ready and raring to go when we get to Southampton.”
West Indies were guilty of a slow start on their last tour here three years ago when they were rolled over cheaply for under 200 in each innings, to slump to an embarrassing innings and 209-run defeat inside three days at Edgbaston.
And while they bounced back with a stunning win at Leeds in the second Test to level the series, they crumbled to a nine-wicket loss at Lord’s in the final Test.
That series defeat extended the Windies’ poor record in England but Simmons said the side was highly motivated to alter that history.
“When you come to England it’s always good to win in England,” said Simmons, who played 26 Tests for West Indies.
“We won at home [last year] and we want to continue that trend but we’re also wanting our own little piece of history, so I think the guys are up for the fight.”
West Indies arrived in the United Kingdom almost two weeks ago and have been undergoing preparation while being quarantined due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
And with 17 days remaining until the first Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, Simmons said the visitors’ preparation was moving into high gear, with the start of the first three-day warm-up match starting Tuesday.
“Our preparation, our practices have gone to another level from today (Monday). We had a nice day off [on Sunday], we worked hard on Saturday when it was nice up here … and it’s gone to the next level today,” he explained.
“It’s only two weeks before the first Test match and preparation has to go to the next level so we’ve started that today.”
The warm-up game will be the first of two and will be played among themselves, with the usual tour matches against county sides prohibited because of COVID-19.
Having travelled with a large 25-man group – a 14-member Test squad and 11 reserves – Simmons believes the tour matches will be of major benefit.
“The aim is the same as if you were playing a four-day match against a county,” he noted.
“The good thing about it is that the quality of bowling we have here as part of the reserves makes it a worthwhile run out over the next three days because you will still have quality bowling on the other end, don’t matter which team plays against which.” (CMC)
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