West Indies head coach Phil Simmons commended his bowlers for the patience and determination they displayed on the penultimate day of the first Test against England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton yesterday and is confident his batsmen will display similar traits, whatever target they eventually have to chase today.
England kept the Windies bowlers in check for most of the day yesterday until the final session when skipper Jason Holder removed his opposite number Ben Stokes for 46, triggering a collapse that saw the hosts slip from 249 for three to 279 for eight at stumps, with a lead of 170 runs.
Simmons said it was the West Indies bowlers’ persistence and patience in sticking to their game plan that paid dividends late on the day.
“It’s been a special day for them (the bowlers). It was difficult in the morning and even between lunch and tea but in the evening, they came up trumps because they persisted,” Simmons praised.
“I am extremely pleased with the way the bowlers bowled today, both when England batted before lunch and moreso when Stokes and (Zak) Crawley were trying to take the game away from us. The patience we exhibited is something we’ve been asking for...and today it showed up. We bore the fruit of that in the evening session,” he added.
Of the key wicket of Stokes, Simmons said Holder was leading by example as he delivered the crucial breakthrough that helped the visitors get back into the contest.
“It’s what he does. He comes back and puts in the good spells for the team and that’s the way he leads his team,” Simmons said of the Windies captain.
“I didn’t expect anything different. He was bowling for a while and we expected a change but he wanted to get that breakthrough for his team. So I don’t expect anything different from him. That’s the quality he brings to the team,” Simmons explained.
“It showed the persistence of the bowlers. We were fighting all day and Stokes and Zak (76), they started to take the bowling apart but the persistence of Jason (paid off). Alzarri (Joseph) also had a huge spell. Coming on the back of what Jason did, he came and got a couple wickets after that, so it’s commendable how they stuck to it,” the Windies coach continued.
“He’s always going to be a threat to any batting line-up,” he said of Joseph.
“This is the type of spell we want from him and need from him, so once he continues to improve the way he is, he’s going to be a threat going forward,” Simmons added.
Looking ahead to the fifth and final day today, Simmons said the bowlers need to wrap up the England innings as quickly as possible and then approach the chase with the same kind of patience and determination that brought them success in the first innings.
“All you can do is get the two remaining wickets for as little runs as possible and then bat normally,” Simmons said.
“If we bat for five hours tomorrow to chase 180-190 then it’s a normal batting day. It’s not a chase where you have to go at the bowling. We will hope that whatever happens in the morning, whatever roller is used helps to flatten out the wickets a little bit so we can get a good start,” he continued.
“As I said, we’ve got to get the two wickets and whatever is put in front of us, we have a day to bat and I think the confidence from the way we batted and the attitude towards batting in the first innings is going to be a huge plus for us when we bat in the second innings, whether we are chasing 170 or 190, it’s going to be the same attitude you need to chase it so I have confidence in that,” Simmons added.