Harper to WI batsmen: ‘Score big!’

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By Akeem Greene

Batting has become the biggest headache of the West Indies team, across formats, but especially in Tests.

Chief Selector, Roger Harper, has thrown out a challenge to the batsmen to consistently produce big scores which will help them to post huge and competitive totals.

In a recent interview with News Room Sport, Harper admitted that batting has been a challenge for the Test team and they are hoping the batsmen can raise their standards on the upcoming tour to New Zealand.

He felt it was important producing sizeable totals becomes the norm.

“Batting has been a challenge in the Test area for quite a while and that is something we are trying to get right. We are looking to our players to make the strides forward and once they get in, making bigger scores and being able to post bigger totals, especially in our first innings and being able to bat more consistently in our second innings,” the Chief Selector related.

He added, “We [are] looking forward to the batsmen raising the standards of our game and showing a lot more fight, and convert the starts. We a have to make it a culture of posting big runs, big scores individually and high aggregates individually.”

To achieve such, Harper is looking at the Regional Four-Day as the dress rehearsal for International cricket, as there the batsmen can inculcate the habit of scoring hundreds consistently.

However, a look at last season’s charts would see Jermaine Blackwood topping with 768 runs at an average of 51.20, but he just had one century (a career-best 248) and six half-centuries.

West Indies’ batsmen have generally struggled to convert their starts, something that was quite evident during the tour of England earlier this year

Kyle Mayers had 654 runs and two centuries to go with five half-centuries. After the eight rounds, no batsman got more than two centuries- only five were able to score more than one century.

In the 2018-19 season, four batsmen got two centuries each, but there were numerous half-centuries.

“In our regional tournament that’s how you post big scores and make consistency part of your natural makeup so when you get to the higher [and] more competitive international arena, it is just something that is a part of you and you are not trying to do something you are not used to doing; so you are more likely to do it and this is where we have to get.”

CWI Chief Selector Roger Harper

Ideally, Harper wants better first innings totals and more mental grit when the situation requires fighting to save a Test.

“One of the areas we definitely have to improve on, we seem to be able to chase targets to win or have more confidence in doing that but we do not seem to mentally be able to bat out period to save a game.”

“If you look at the last game [in England], we had an opportunity to bat out and save that game as well and we didn’t do that. I think that is an area we definitely have to improve and our batting generally has to come good.”

The regional side will be up against a quality attack in New Zealand where three of the opposition’s frontline Test bowlers – Neil Wagner, Tim Southee and Trent Boult – are in the top 10 ICC rankings.

Playing the Black Caps at home has not yielded the results the regional side would want; in 29 Tests in New Zealand, West Indies have only won seven and drew 10.

On the 1994/95 tour, they won the two-Test series 1-0, which was their last series success. In 2017-18, whey the last toured, the hosts comprehensively won both Tests as West Indies’ batting flopped.

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