I attach little significance to the Sri Lankan series for mainly one reason. I do not believe the eighth-ranked WI team could have performed well on that tour. Immediately prior to that tour, from most reports, the team believed it had the right leader in Mr Simmons, who, on the eve of the tour was replaced by a gentleman who had competed with Mr Simmons for the position of coach and had lost, but was able, even assuming good faith, to cast a vote as a selector, that triggered from Mr Simmons, the outburst that led to his suspension. I am sure there are many people with more cricket experience than I have who would disagree with me, but I do not believe it was possible to perform well under those circumstances. Normal people are just not that insensitive.
I am not sure that the disclosure of proceedings in the Simmons case this weekend will be good for the team, but I believe it important that the team members do not, in the coming days, have nightmares of Cameron and Pybus, people who badly need unearned respect.
Recent history is not, however, to be totally ignored as irrelevant. The team`s performance against England in April and May gave it some confidence, perhaps more than it should have, although some of the confidence was earned and therefore justified. It’s useful to reflect on how well Bishoo and Taylor bowled in the first Test against Australia in May, how Australia’s batting was made respectable by a 35-year-old Test debutant and a number nine batsman. Bishoo, we might remember, was injured and could not bowl in the latter part of the game, and Australia ended with a much larger total than would reasonably have been expected. Bishoo was unable to play in the second Test, and Samuels, who had topscored in the first inning of the first Test, and was the only member of the squad with more than fifty Tests, did not play, for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery. Apart from Holder, who made a daring eighty, the youngsters were overwhelmed by the Australian pace attack.
Not only is coach Simmons back for the Australian tour, but Kemar Roach left Australia in 2010 well respected after a performance that can reasonably be said to have hastened the retirement of the great Ricky Ponting, while Taylor, in the handful of overs he bowled at the Gabba in the first Test before his injury, removed one of the openers. These two bowlers can reasonably be expected to perform well on Australian wickets. Gabriel is probably as fast, though not as accurate, as any of the Australian quicks. Bishoo and young Warrican look like pure leg spinners who do not go through the contortions that so many spinners seem required to perform before they can impart spin. I expect they will perform well, although they may have to be used carefully against the one really good left-handed Australian batsman, Warner. Darren Bravo is one of the few West Indian batsmen to have scored a double century in the region, although it was in NewZealand rather than in Australia. If, as I hope, he curbs his overconfidence, this may be his tour. We know that Samuels can bat. In fact he has a record on a ground in Queensland, something like 257. Only those who do not know cricket would have given up on our young batsmen and an allrounder like Jason Holder.
Johnson and Stark would be missing from the Australian pace attack, and if you paid close attention to their latest series against NewZealand, you cannot but notice that they are but an average team. If the West Indies can find some confidence, the series will be interesting.