Brathwaite ‘quite clear’ on his XI for first Test against Australia
West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite is “quite clear” on the XI he will take into the first Test against Australia next week, which will include at least three debutants, and praised his largely inexperienced team with making good use of their warm-up match in Adelaide.
Across the three days against a Cricket Australia XI, made up of players without BBL deals, a number of the top order spent useful time in the middle with wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva hitting a century on the final day while Kavem Hodge struck 52 and 99 and Justin Greaves was twice in the runs.
The bowlers were able to knock over the CA XI for 174 in their first innings with an eye-catching performance from quick Shamar Joseph who is in line for a debut next week along with the senior pair of Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph.
“[I’m] quite clear on the XI,” Brathwaite told reporters. “Very happy with how all the guys went about the camp [and] went about this game. This time next week it’s about making West Indies proud.”
While Brathwaite did not divulge further details of how West Indies will line up, if the warm-up game is an indication it will see Hodge and Greaves making their debuts at No. 5 and 6 respectively along with Shamar.
Left-armer Gudakesh Motie, who took 13 wickets in the match against Zimbabwe a year ago, would appear to be the frontline spinner although allrounder Kevin Sinclair may have given selectors something to ponder.
West Indies shuffled their batting order in the second innings with Da Silva, one of the players who was part of the Test series in Australia last time around, making the most of his chance with a hundred while Brathwaite was pleased with how Hodge twice made contributions.
“[Da Silva] took it with both hands, the opportunity to open, and he batted for a long period which is what you want In Test cricket so that was good to see,” he said. “Very pleased with how [Hodge] showed he [could] come again in the second innings and do it. That’s what we want.”
Brathwaite (87 Tests) along with Roach (79 Tests) will have key roles to play in showing the way while Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Alzarri were also on the previous tour.
“[You can talk about] different spells you would have faced, how the pitches played, there’s a lot of information shared,” Brathwaite said. “Obviously Kemar Roach leading the young bowling attack with experience of similar, how the Kookaburra ball reacts off these types of pitches, the lengths, especially with the new ball is very important.”
West Indies also caught well during the game – something Pakistan were unable to do during their Test series, which may have cost them the Melbourne Test.
“Catching is very important, especially here in Australia,” Brathwaite said. “The pitches get quite a bit of bounce so especially the slip fielders have to be sharp. That’s something the fielding coach speaks about, [but] we’ve got to keep working hard.”
West Indies arrived in Adelaide on December 30 so have had the rare opportunity of spending two weeks in the same city to prepare for the opening Test, which this year will be a day game rather than Adelaide’s traditional day-night fixture with Brisbane instead hosting the pink-ball contest.
“Having the time to practice here in Adelaide, get accustomed to the pitches and stuff, think that was great for us,” Brathwaite said. “As a team we are very pleased. The facilities here are outstanding and the boys made good use of them.”
West Indies’ squad is missing a host of senior players including former captain Jason Holder and allrounder Kyle Mayers who opted to play in T20 leagues. (ESPNcricinfo)