Joseph looking to exploit perception of “weakness”

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By Akeem Greene

At 23, Alzarri Joseph is the youngest cog in what has become a potent four-prong West Indies pace attack.

Partnering the seasoned Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel, the quartet has aroused memories of the fearsome pacemen the Caribbean produced in the past.

Though he has produced valuable returns, Joseph still views himself as the “weakest link” and believes if teams carry the same train of thought, he can use it to his advantage.

“It is not necessarily because of age, but the amount of matches played compared to the other three bowlers…yeah, I can use it as an advantage,” he said Saturday on the virtual press briefing.

“I know my abilities and they [opponents] might not know but once I can come on the day and get the job done I know I can get on top of any opponent.”

On England’s tour to the Caribbean in 2019, Joseph took 10 wickets – second to Roach who had 18 – at an average of 23.80. It was a fruitful outing after his lone Test on the tour to England in August 2017 where he bowled 22 overs for 109 runs and got no wicket.

“Those guys have more experience than I, so often than not teams would see myself as the weaker link. So I think my job is to come on and back those bowlers to keep the pressure on.”

Alzarri Joseph of West Indies bowls during Day One of a West Indies Warm Up match at Old Trafford on June 23, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images for ECB)

This current tour is his first Test series since a 2019 of mixed emotions.

He lost his mother in the middle of his maiden home Test in Antigua and had his Indian Premier League sojourn with Mumbai Indians last a week after he announced himself with 6-12 – the best-ever figures in the IPL – against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Soon after he suffered a tear in his right arm, which he dislocated while diving on the field, and missed the remainder of the tournament.

“It [death of his mother] was a really hard time but I used it as a motivation, on the day especially, to make some memories and have something to remember her by; as I went on I kept doing everything I had to do to make her proud.”

The young paceman, who has played nine Tests since his debut in 2016, indicated this tour is a selfless journey to help West Indies improve.

“I see this tour as an opportunity for me to help the team get higher up the rankings, and any opportunity I get to play I will take it, and anything the captain or the team requires of me I will do it.”

That 2019 series saw a successful bodyline attack by West Indies but given the change in conditions, he explained it is now about making a quick assessment of what will work best.

“We bowled fairly well in the Caribbean so it is just now for us to come here and get a feel for conditions and assess as quickly as possible. It is being around that good area, extraction whatever good movement you can get off the pitch and just stick to that as long as possible.”

Joseph bowled 22 overs in the three-day intra-squad warm-up match and got six wickets against Brathwaite’s XI, which contained the core of the Test batsmen.

According to him, the batsmen, who are under pressure to perform this series looked good and it’s about them spending more time in the middle when the Four-Day warm-up match starts Monday at Old Trafford.

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