Batting coach Radford hails start of new era

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Batting coach Toby Radford expects the influx of young players in the West Indies squad to compensate for the loss of experienced players like Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo, in the three-Test series against Pakistan starting here today.

Both Samuels and Bravo, with 120 Tests between them, were both ignored by selectors in the 13-man squad announced earlier this week for the opening Test at Sabina Park, with the uncapped Guyanese pair of Vishal Singh and Shimron Hetmyer preferred instead.

And along with rookies like Roston Chase and Shai Hope – neither of whom have played 10 Tests – Radford believes West Indies could be seeing the emergence of a new era of batsmen.

PREPARING FOR BATTLE: Young uncapped opener Shimron Hetmyer readies himself for a net session in the build-up to the opening Test. (Photo courtesy WICB Media)

“Marlon’s been a great servant to West Indies cricket and has played some wonderful innings over the years so we do lose a bit of experience there but I’d like to think this is a dynamic group of young players with lots of talent and probably the start of a new age in West Indies  cricket,” Radford said here.

“I’d like these boys to come in and play the way they play, not fear anything and play the way they would in any other team and not feel the occasion. Just come out, do what they do and show everyone the talent that they’ve got.”

Vishal, 28, is an obdurate left-hander who has been rewarded for his heavy scoring in last year’s first class championship and relative success with West Indies A.

He also struck an unbeaten 135 for the WICB President’s XI in last weekend’s three-day tour match against the Pakistanis.

The 20-year-old Hetmyer, meanwhile, has been fast-tracked into the Test side, following a first class season where he gathered nearly 500 runs. His 97 in the recent tour match also helped his cause.

Radford said he liked the sensible yet no-nonsense approach brought by former Youth World Cup captain Hetmyer.

“The first time I saw him was up at Trelawny this week and it was a fantastic innings. He deserved a hundred,” the Englishman noted.

“He ended up two or three runs short but it was a superb knock. He looks very organised. [He’s a] powerful batsman but correct, strikes the ball very cleanly but he’s not a hitter – he’s a proper batsman.

“If balls were there to defend, he defended them but the minute the bowler was loose it (ball) went a long way.”

Radford said both players seemed ready to handle Test quality bowling.

“I was really impressed by the way [Hetmyer] and Vishal Singh played. They were very matured innings and [both players] looked equipped to play the bowling of that calibre.”

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