The West Indies batting in the recent Test series against Sri Lanka has given head coach Phil Simmons a lot of pride and despite drawing the two-match series 0-0, Simmons said the bowling attack used in the series will continue to be the team’s main bowlers in the current circumstances.
While he was impressed with his players, he didn’t feel the same way about pitches that were used in the Test series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
“I think from a country standpoint, we need to get better wickets where we can have Test matches that will create a result,” Simmons said during an interview yesterday.
“I think even if we lost a Test match after it has gone to the fifth day, you would still think that we’ve done well to get to the fifth day and we were in with a chance of winning the Test match, and I think that is an important part of it,” he added.
West Indies batted out the final day to save the first Test match while Sri Lanka did the same to draw the second game. Both matches were played on batting-friendly wickets at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
Simmons said the West Indies batting showed depth and grit during the Sri Lanka series, and that batting out the final day to save the first Test underscored the new attitude the batting unit has incorporated into their approach in the middle.
“The biggest takeaway is that number one, we can bat on a fifth day pitch to save a game and draw a Test match and it is something we haven’t done for a while and we needed to make sure we are able to do it, and I think that is the biggest thing from this,” said Simmons.
“Then the attitude of the team keeps growing. The attitude of guys wanting to make runs and wanting to score hundreds and it was good to see the captain getting a hundred after a long barren period,” he added.
He said he was impressed with the attitude of the batsmen, and that “the general attitude towards batting as a whole in Test matches keeps improving”.
“In every series you are not going to get very batsman firing. In one series you might get two or three and in another series you might get a different two or three. So the important thing is that the team is batting as a team and in every Test match somebody is standing up and looking to get a hundred and a big score, and we have been graced with that in the last four Test matches that we’ve had; two or three 90s, we had a double hundred, and we had two hundreds, so the batting is coming to the fore now,” he explained.
“I think the important thing now is that everybody is looking to occupy the crease and bat for long periods and... our depth goes deeper because Alzarri Joseph and Rahkeem Cornwall have shown in the last three series that they can each bat and they can provide that 50-100 run partnership later down there that can take us to the 350s and 400s... The batting has stood up in the past four Test matches, and that is a great thing because before that the bowling was carrying us,” he added.
As for the bowling unit that comprised Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Rahkeem Cornwall, Simmons said: “I think we had the bowlers there who we wanted to be in the Test team, everybody else are still work in progress and looking to put themselves in contention, so right now these five bowlers are our main bowlers.”
“I don’t think you can reinforce (the bowling attack). The only thing you can do sometimes is adjust the make-up of the five bowlers, but in this case the pitch looked like it would deteriorate more and Rahkeem would come into play, but it got better and better and that is not in our hands. So the next time we might look at it and say we might play two spinners or we might play five fast bowlers, so it depends on how we read the pitch,” the head coach added.
He also noted that the energy in the team remains high coming out of Bangladesh and into the Sri Lanka series, and that they will be looking to keep that going and even improve it going forward.
“I think the dressing room is exciting and there is energy around it,” said Simmons.
“I think winning two Test matches in Bangladesh brings that kind of energy and it is a lot of young players coming into the team that brings that energy as well, whether it is in their batting, their keeping or their bowling. They bring that energy and it’s a nice feeling in the dressing room and it is a nice way that players are looking after one another and want others to succeed. So the energy in the dressing room is great but it can always get better, and we keep working on improving it and make sure it gets better,” he added.