West Indies vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood feels that mental preparation to handle spin will be the key to success in the upcoming two-match Test series against Bangladesh.
West Indies are desperate to regain some pride in the Test series, scheduled to start at Chattogram from February 3, following their abject 3-0 defeat in the preceding One-Day Internationals against their host.
“These types of surfaces are very slow. So I have to [be prepared] mentally, because technically I can’t do too much work right now. But mentally I know it is going to be very slow and it will spin. Once mentally I am ready, I am good. Then everything takes care of itself,’’ said Blackwood.
‘’I am batting very good in the nets, so I am just looking forward to transfer that in the middle. I can’t really wait to just go out there and play some cricket. I have been in Bangladesh for a while now so I am just eager to go out and play some cricket,’’ he added.
.The 29-year-old scored his first century against England in 2015, a plucky 112 unbeaten in a draw in Antigua. Following that impressive achievement, however, Blackwood seemed unable to pass the double-digit threshold. In fact, before finally breaking the streak with 104 against New Zealand, in December, Blackwood had managed to score 10 half-centuries in-between but always fell short of a triple-digit score.
Included in that number were some figures frustratingly well clear of the 50 mark, but falling just short of the 100 mark, when for all intents and purposes he seemed well set to do so. The tally includes three scores in the 90s. He scored 92 against Sri Lanka, in Galle, in 2015; 95 against Pakistan, in Abu Dhabi, in 2016; and 95 against England, in Southampton, in July of last year. Prior to that, Blackwood also registered 85 against England, in Bridgetown, in May 2015. During India’s last tour of the West Indies, Blackwood played as a concussion sub in the Jamaica Test and took the opportunity to seek the advice of run-machine Virat Kohli when the two briefly interacted off the pitch.
“I don’t really have a lot of conversations with international players but I just asked him how come all the time I score so many half-centuries and just one century, and he just replied, ‘What did you do when you scored the century? How many deliveries did you face?’ I said I faced 212, and he said ‘that’s it, once you can bat some balls you will score runs’,” Blackwood recalled.
‘’So, I took a big thing from that. After that conversation, I tell myself that once I can bat over 200 or 300 balls, the way I bat, I can score runs regardless of who I am playing against or where I am playing,’’ he said, adding that Andre Russell had echoed the same sentiment.
“Me and Russell did a lot of talking. We are very close. I need to improve in kicking on and getting more hundreds. We mostly talk about my shot selections. When I started playing for West Indies, I was young and excited. My style of batting was to play a lot of shots and put the bowlers under pressure,’’ he said.
“What I learned was that you can’t make a hundred in an over or two. You have to spend hours at the crease. I did a lot of talking with Russell, and he gave me a lot of pointers on what I needed to do. . . He only played one Test match, but he is a guy who knows his cricket,’’ he said.
Blackwood added that he was confident that they could give Bangladesh a run for their money.
“I am not really going to change my role. For the last two series, I have been scoring runs. My goal is to continue to score runs, and just to win some more games for the team. I think this unit is a good one. I can see the hunger. We have been training very hard for the past couple of weeks. I can see that we are trying new things, and they are working pretty well. I have full confidence in this batting unit to get the job done. John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, young Moseley, myself and Josh is, I think, a decent line-up. Once we can stick to our gameplan, I don’t see no way we can’t post some good totals.
Since returning to West Indies duties after a long period out of the squad, Blackwood has been the team’s best batsman on the tours of England and New Zealand notching up a century and three half-centuries in the five Tests he has played. (Cricbuzz)