Captain Kraigg Brathwaite believes the two-Test tour of Zimbabwe beginning Saturday presents West Indies with the opportunity to redeem themselves, in the aftermath of the chastening series in Australia last month.
The Caribbean lost both Tests Down Under by heavy margins in a lopsided tour but now come up against minnows Zimbabwe, to whom they have never lost a Test in 10 previous meetings.
“We’re aiming for an all-round team performance,” Brathwaite told an online media conference Friday.
“I think in Australia we obviously didn’t bat well. We got above 250 a few times which was good [but] we didn’t bowl well. We didn’t bowl out Australia at all.
“I think coming here we’re looking for an all-round performance, one that the bowlers come together to get 20 wickets and then the batsmen putting a lot of runs on the board, especially in the first innings, making it a big total. So I would say on this tour that all-round performance is what really we’re looking for, gearing towards South Africa [next month].”
He added: “Preparation has gone really well. I really like how the guys applied themselves in the practice game we had so that was really good. The guys are looking forward to the first Test. We’re in a very good space.”
West Indies last faced Zimbabwe here six years ago when they captured the two-match series 1-0. They won the opening Test by 117 runs and drew the second, in which the hosts posted in excess of 300 in each innings.
Zimbabwe will miss several of their experienced players for the series with captain Sean Williams out injured and fast bowlers Tendai Chatara Blessing Muzarabani, and all-rounders Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl missing for various reasons.
Seven uncapped players have been subsequently named in the squad.
Brathwaite said West Indies felt under no pressure, however, and would be focused on simply executing their game plan.
“We’re not under any pressure. I think all the guys are really looking forward to playing here,” he said.
“We had a few practice sessions at the ground. So I don’t think there’s any pressure. I think the guys are going to go out there and enjoy it and make West Indians proud.”
The pitch at Queens Sports Club is expected to play a key role in the contest. And while traditionally known for its spin friendliness, Brathwaite believes pace could also come into play on the surface.
West Indies have welcomed back veteran speedster Shannon Gabriel after an injury layoff but also have at their disposal, left-spinners Jomel Warrican and Gudakesh Motie, as specialist slow bowlers.
“I think both [pace and spin] will get some assistance,” Brathwaite pointed out.
“Last time we came I thought the pacers did a good job. It didn’t bounce extremely high but I still think there’s stuff in it for the pacers once they obviously put in the effort.
“And for the spinners, they got a bit of purchase on the last tour and it looks like there will get a little purchase [again]. So I think for both it will have something in it but whatever you put in I think you will get out.”
The match bowls off at 10 am (4 am Eastern Caribbean time).
ZIMBABWE – Craig Ervine (captain), Gary Ballance, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Tanaka Chivanga, Bradley Evans, Joylord Gumbie, Innocent Kaia, Tanunurwa Makoni, Wellington Masakadza, Kudzai Maunze, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Milton Shumba, Donald Tiripano, Tafadzwa Tsiga
WEST INDIES – Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach, Devon Thomas, Jomel Warrican.