Previous failures in England motivating Dowrich to succeed
By Akeem Greene
When West Indies toured England in 2017, wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich was just 25 and had only played 11 Tests since the debut in 2015.
It was a series to forget as he walked away with a tour average of 4.80 and had a highest score of 14. Since then Dowrich has scored three Test tons, the last of which was an unbeaten 116 against England in Barbados in the victorious series for West Indies.
On his return to a place where there is far from pleasant memories on the cricket field, the diminutive Bajan indicated he has learnt much and is up for the stern challenge that awaits.
“The last time I was here, it was very tough for me, it was a series that really changed my career. I was young, I was in unfamiliar territory and I really didn’t cope well with it,” he stated on a virtual briefing on Sunday.
“Since then I have been able to go away and I have learnt a lot from the experience here last time and I consider myself a different player from what I was three years ago. Obviously it is still going to be a challenge, but I think I am ready enough for the challenge.”
Dowrich joins his countryman Roston Chase, who said on Saturday that scoring a hundred in England is of great signifance, and apart from reaching the landmark, Dowrich wants a minimum tour average of 40; his career average sits at 30.08.
“I would love to score a Test hundred in England. Obviously, scoring runs away from home is always a challenge, but if you are going to rate yourself as a player, you have to be able to do it and I think I have been putting in enough work to come up with something this series.”
Due to the absence of Shimron Hetmyer, who bats just ahead of Dowrich, he indicated despite not giving the idea of moving up the order a thought, he would be willing to do the needs of the team.
“I haven’t given it much thought, to be honest; I’m just here to help the team and whatever the team requires I am willing to do. If that is a discussion (that) has to come up that will be up to the coach and captain but I haven’t given it much thought.”
Reflecting on his last Test ton, where he shared a seventh-wicket stand of 295* with skipper Jason Holder, who made 202, Dowrich revealed that innings has given him tons of confidence.
“I think I always considered myself a genuine wicketkeeper-batsman, but that innings did a lot for me and gave a lot of confidence but going forward (I) just need to be consistent and do what is necessary to help the team win.”
Batting with the lower-order is a no easy task when the team is trying to build a substantial total and for Dowrich it comes down to trust.
“You have to trust them; you don’t want them facing too many balls, but you have to trust that when they do face a ball they can get the job done and you have to give them that confidence that they can do it. I think that’s how it works for you as the main batter in that situation.”
Wicket-keeping in England
Generally, wicket-keeping is no easy task in England with the ball swinging further even after it passes the batsman. To help him counter such a problem, the Barbadian has sought advice from former England keeper James Foster and developed unique training methods of his own by taping three-quarters of a ball.
“It [wicket keeping] has been tough; last time I was here I found it a bit difficult and I did some work with James Foster from Essex. This time around I have been trying to spend a lot of time in the middle keeping to the bowlers, getting a feel for the atmosphere, get a feel for what the ball doing as much.”
“It is different from the Caribbean because it doesn’t move as much after it passes the bat, but the more I get out and keep practicing I will be able to manage when it comes game time.”
His precise work with Foster was based on alignment behind the stump and stability since West Indian bowlers’ delivery is wider from the crease.
Dowrich is looking forward to the first intra-squad practice match, which starts Tuesday, since facing the quality of his teammates in match scenario will help in better preparation.
He felt both matches will be eagerly contested since players will want to cement their current spot and some wanting to excel to grab a spot.