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West indies meet the King of England ahead of the first Test at Lord’s

by Barbados Today
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The West Indies and England join battle for the 2024 Richards-Botham Trophy on Wednesday 10 July at Lord’s, also set to be the final Test match for another legendary cricketer, England’s James Anderson. West Indies are the current holders, having won in the Caribbean in 2021. Kraigg Brathwaite was the leading run-scorer in that series, with 341 runs in six innings.

On the weekend, the tourists were invited to Buckingham Palace to meet King Charles III, ahead of their three-Test series. His Royal Highness learned a new handshake, deeming it “quite complicated.” He discussed horses briefly with West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite. And he commiserated with the regional ambassadors on the destruction caused in the region by the passage of Hurricane Beryl last week.

Brathwaite, meanwhile, took the opportunity to speak to how the events of last week can be a rallying call for his team. “We were honoured to be invited,” he said. “And it was a great opportunity for the whole team to be here. Hurricane Beryl has been devastating but we want to make West Indians proud and put a smile on their faces during these tough times.”

Brathwaite also pointed out that the West Indies team carries the hopes and dreams of Caribbean people of all ages when it goes out to represent the region. 

“I think it’s important for us, we won a game in Australia, and that obviously touched the whole world. And for us playing the sport, it’s important that we always be role models. There are a lot of kids out there that want to aspire, but we have to make them aspire. We’ve got to create the big performances out there, and let the world see, and let them see, like it was for me, because I got to see a lot of the legends growing up, and that inspired me.”

Former Test captain Jason Holder talked up the confidence that the visitors will carry into the series opener, despite not having played this format in several months. A common theme of the lead up to this fixture is the success that the West Indies enjoyed in Australia, and the carryover that the team hopes it will bring to British shores. The 32-year-old, into his 10th year of Test cricket, says the team’s historic victory at the Gabba in January has revived his zeal for the red-ball format.

“It’s important man. I think the guys, you know, took a lot from that Test victory in Australia, obviously. And you know, for the group, we’ve been doing some really positive things over the last couple months, and I think as a young side, you know, the main thing is just to keep learning. It’s something that I stress on within the group to each and every individual, just taking what they can take from each experience and just building on it.

“You know we’ve been faced with different challenges here in England, obviously. It’s just a matter for each individual to understand them, learn from them, and you know, make them better for the next year. But I think what we have in the dressing room is some special talent. You know, we’ve got some special talent within our dressing room, there’s no doubt about it. It’s just a matter for us just to play some solid cricket and, you know, just believe.” 

At the other end of the experience spectrum, a fit and ready Shamar Joseph says he is raring to go. His whirlwind career saw less than 12 months between his first class debut for Guyana and a Test debut that put the world on notice. The 24-year-old tearaway is putting that match-winning spell behind him, however, and looking forward to turning in another big performance in England. 

Asked about getting his name on the honour’s board at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, which commemorates five-wicket hauls, ten-wicket hauls, and centuries, Joseph’s answer was straight to the point: “I will put my name there for sure.”

“I’m actually excited to be here, being at Lord’s,” said Joseph. “Everybody would dream to play at this ground. England is known for a lot of good fast bowling and swings and all of that, so I’m actually excited to be here.

Referencing Australian great Mitchell Starc and English bowlers Jofra Archer and Anderson, the latter of whom has said that the West Indies series will be his last for The Three Lions, Joseph said that he is looking forward to bowling well on helpful wickets in England. He admits that there will be an adjustment period for him, but he says that his confidence level is such that he is able to set high expectations for himself.

“I think anywhere you go, as long as you’re never played somewhere before, there will be challenges,” he explained. “but it’s all about how you adjust yourself as fast as possible to the conditions and all that. 

“That’s the only way for me, I feel – like being confident and also having the backing from your teammate that believe in you also. So that gives me another extra drive. So me coming here with that confidence and that belief, I know that I would do great. 

“From since the last tour in Australia, we maintain that energy. I think that’s something that come into our game. We keep that positive mindset and that energy moving forward. So having all this happiness and this fun in the dressing room, I think that’s part of our game. That plays an important part in our game, too.”

Day 1 of the first Test will be Wednesday. (TF)

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