Preparation games critical to tour success, says Holder

LONDON, CMC – West Indies captain Jason Holder has urged his inexperienced side to make the most of the three tour games in the build-up to the opening Test of the three-match series against England later next month.

The tourists face Essex in a three-day contest starting today and will follow up with matches against Kent from August 6-8 in Canterbury and against Derbyshire from August 11-13.

The opening Test will be a day/night affair beginning August 17 at Edgbaston.

New boy Kyle Hope arrives at Lord’s for West Indies’ first training session since arriving in London. (Photo courtesy CWI Media)

“I think it is extremely good that we have three games leading into the first Test match, all of them being three-day games and one being a day-nighter, so that’s more than enough preparation time to go into the first Test and into the Test series,” the all-rounder said.

“The guys need to use these games importantly and make sure we make use of them to the best of our ability and get what we need out of them. It’s important that batsmen spend some time at the crease, get accustomed to the conditions and the quicker we get acclimatised to the conditions, I think the better off we would be.

“We need to get comfortable and make sure that we give ourselves the best chance to perform.”

The series is expected to be a difficult one for West Indies, especially with the majority of the  squad making their maiden Test tour of England.

In fact, of the 15-man squad only opener Kieran Powell and pacers Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel have ever played a Test here.

Further, two players – Kyle Hope and Raymond Reifer – are uncapped while six others have played less than 15 Tests.

Holder, who has led the Windies in 15 of his 23 Tests, said critical to the success of the tour would be the squad’s ability to play as a unit and build on recent encouraging performances against Pakistan.

“The biggest thing is for us to gel as a side. We’ve preached family in the dressing room and we have planned a lot of activities to try and bring the group together,” he explained.

“I have been seeing some wonderful progress. The last two Test series we played against Pakistan have been a great success for us, although we didn’t get the perfect results in terms of the overall picture. “We saw many of the guys improve – they are a lot more assertive at the crease as batters and the bowlers being a lot more consistent in their lines and lengths.

“We can only ask the guys to continue in that vein and once we do the small things well … we will get the end results we’re looking for.”

The Windies arrived here Saturday from the Caribbean and had their first training session at Lord’s on Sunday.

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