LONDON, CMC – Team manager, Joel Garner, has warned pundits to write off West Indies “at their own peril” as the Caribbean side gear up for the opening Test of the three-match series against England starting tomorrow.
West Indies have not won a Test in England 17 years and are without a series victory here in almost three decades. Further, only three players in the 15-man squad have ever played a Test in England before.
But Garner said he believed the pivotal issue will be adjustment, especially with the first Test in Edgbaston being played under lights.
“Not many people are giving us a lot of hope,” said the legendary former speedster, a member of the dominant Windies side of the 1970s and 80s.
“I think the fellas have got talent. It’s who makes the greatest adjustment in the day-night game. Games between England and the West Indies are competitive. I wouldn’t completely write them off.”
West Indies have arrived with a youthful side missing several of its leading stars like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo.
However, they have made a strong start to the series with several eye-catching performances in the three three-day first class games against County opposition in recent weeks.
Four batsmen got hundreds – three in one innings – against Derbyshire in a day/night affair in an encouraging warm-up for the first Test, prompting Garner to reiterate his warning.
“It’s going to be some interesting times. I think people are writing the West Indies off too early, and it could be at their own peril,” he stressed.
“Cricket is played in the middle at the end of the day and it’s who makes the fastest adjustment.”
West Indies have not enjoyed a series win in three years, the last coming when they beat minnows Bangladesh in a two-match rubber in the Caribbean.
They have since lost 15 of their last 23 Tests and won just three, remaining stationed at number eight in the ICC Test rankings.
Optimism has abounded of recent, however, with the Caribbean side competing strongly with Pakistan in a home-and-away series, and Garner argued this was because of new sense of professionalism being instilled in the unit.
“Players are being encouraged to train harder and get fitter,” Garner explained.
“We’ve always had players with ability, players with style and flair, but the lack of preparation at the top could have been part of the problem.”