With days before the first Test against England starts, concerns about West Indies brittle batting came to the fore once more today.
And most of the worries were provided by Barbados’ left-armer Raymon Reifer who seized his chance to impress with five wickets in the space of 11 balls on day two of the West Indies’ intra-squad match at Emirates Old Trafford.
The all-rounder produced an inspired spell in the afternoon session as Kraigg Brathwaite’s XI took a dominant position over the side led by Test captain Jason Holder.
Holder’s team were set fair on 95 for 2 when Reifer ripped their middle order out in quick time, leaving them 111 for 7 and, eventually, 193 all out.
In just a few minutes’ work he removed Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua da Silva, Holder, Sheyne Moseley and Rahkeem Cornwall, paving the way for an 82-run first-innings lead.
That had stretched to 181 at stumps, opener John Campbell making up for his day-one duck with an attacking 49 in a score of 99 for 3. It was Reifer, though, who gained most from the outing, making up for his lack of express pace by zeroing in on the perfect length and using his angles well. Three of his victims nicked to slip or gully – Bonner, Da Silva and Moseley all feeling for contact in the channel – while Cornwall hacked unimpressively to mid-on to seal the five-for.
But in terms of advancing his outside chance of an appearance in the series opener against England on July 8, the most notable scalp would have been Holder, pinned lbw for a golden duck. Holder commands huge respect among his squad and is increasingly one of the most respected voices in the global game but that did not stop the fielding side whooping in the loudest celebration of the day as he was given first ball.
Holder also declined to bowl himself for the second day in a row, inviting further questions over the niggling ankle injury from which he has been working his way back.
Reifer, who won his only Test cap in 2017 against New Zealand, finished with 5 for 60 as compatriot Kyle Mayers added a bright 45 to bring down the arrears. He was last man out to fast bowler Marquino Mindley, who also dismissed Roach.
Mindley had earlier uprooted Jermaine Blackwood’s middle stump as he auditioned unsuccessfully as a top-order rival for Campbell.
Blackwood is one of the 14 players in the official 14-man squad – with Shannon Gabriel set to be added – while the remainder of the 25-man party are listed as reserves.
It was two of those reserves who did the bulk of the scoring for Holder’s team, Moseley eking out 40 and Sunil Ambris riding his luck on his way to an unconvincing 52.
Campbell and Blackwood returned to the crease for the evening session and raced to their 50-run stand in just 7.4 overs. There were a few thick edges but also plenty of clean hits and good running, with Gabriel taking the brunt of the pain with 38 off his first four overs.
Campbell was not always secure, and was dropped at mid-off on 29, but moved within a single of his half-century before Alzarri Joseph had him lbw.
Joseph bowled a wonderful spell late on, winning another lbw when he went full and straight to Shai Hope, who was dropped on nought and dismissed for two.
“You can always give yourself a chance with the Dukes ball in England,” Reifer said at the close.
“If you’re able to get a bit of shine on it there is always some movement to be found in these conditions. If the ball is seaming around then it is favourable for me.
“I was pretty pleased with the five wickets, I just put the ball in the right areas and it started to bite.”
Reifer, cousin of batting coach Floyd, has not worn the West Indies whites since his debut against New Zealand in 2017, but did feature in a pair of One-Day Internationals in Ireland last summer.
“The ultimate dream is always to play Test cricket and to play as many Tests as possible,” he said.
“I made my debut three years ago and haven’t played since, so if the opportunity presents itself I’ll be looking to play.
“I’m not thinking too far ahead, we have another day in this match and potentially another chance with bat and ball then a four-day game coming up, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s gone.” (Cricinfo)