Jermaine Blackwood

FIGHTING KNOCK: West Indies’ Jermaine Blackwood celebrates reaching his century on the fourth day of the first Test against New Zealand at Seddon Park, in Hamilton, yesterday. —Photo: AFP

Phil Simmons has brushed aside concern over the form of some members of the West Indies batting group in the just concluded two-Test series against Sri Lanka.

Though West Indies produced solid batting performances throughout the series, opener John Campbell struggled with a mere 68 runs from four innings while vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood garnered only 42 runs from his four appearances.

But head coach Simmons said it was unrealistic to expect every batsman to strike form in every series, stressing the more important element was the overall batting success of the unit. “In every series, you’re not going to get every batsman firing,” Simmons pointed out.

“In one series you’ll get two or three and in the next series you may get a different two or three, so the important thing is that the team is batting as a team and that every Test match, somebody is standing up, every Test match somebody is looking to get a hundred or a big score.

“We’ve been graced with that in the last four matches where we had two or three 90s, we had a double hundred, we had two hundreds so the batting is coming to the fore now.”

Campbell, though, has struggled in his 15-Test career, with a mere two half-centuries and an average of 23. Blackwood’s failure, however, was his first for some time, having averaged 38 in the previous seven Tests following the re-start of international cricket amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

West Indies have started the year positively, unexpectedly sweeping Bangladesh in two Tests away before drawing both Tests against Sri Lanka in the Caribbean recently.

And with new players like Kyle Mayers, Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva and Rahkeem Cornwall all performing consistently, Simmons said the team spirit had been transformed positively. “I think the dressing room is exciting. There’s an energy around the dressing room,” Simmons explained.

“I think winning the two Test matches in Bangladesh brings that kind of energy and there’s a lot of young players who have just come into the team who bring that type of energy too, whether it’s in their batting, their keeping, in their bowling.

“Whichever it is, they bring that energy and it’s a nice feeling in the dressing room in a nice way. Players are looking after one another and want each other to succeed.

“So the energy in the dressing room is great but it can always get better. We keep working on improving it and making sure that it keeps getting better.”

He also praised the efforts of Cornwall who starred with 14 wickets with his off-spin in Bangladesh and then lashed two half-centuries against Sri Lanka.

“He has given his all. I think the wickets in this series weren’t helpful but he still bowled extremely well and with the bat he is now contributing,” he noted.

“We know he can catch in the slips so his all-round performance and what he is giving the team is a major contribution to where we’re at.”

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