LEEDS, England, CMC – Stroke-maker Jermaine Blackwood intends to continue his positive approach when he faces England’s strong bowling attack in the second Test at Headingley starting here Friday.
The diminutive but powerful batsman was the stand-out for West Indies in the midst of the gloom of the first Test defeat at Edgbaston last week, and will carry the hopes of the visitors in the second encounter as they seek to stave off a series loss.
In his first innings in England, the 25-year-old Jamaican made a run-a-ball 79 not out, including two towering straight sixes – one of which was an imperious blow off fast bowler Stuart Broad.
The innings was his first in Tests this year after failing to get a game in the recent three-Test series against Pakistan and Blackwood said despite this, he had always intended to play his normal game.
“I always tell myself to take the positive route. I always play my natural game and look to get runs on the board,” he said.
“It’s not about taking on the bowlers but rather to play to my strength. My strength is to play my strokes and look to rotate [the strike] and get the scores ticking.
“When I went in [at Edgbaston] it was my first knock for the year so I told myself to do something special. We were a few wickets down so I tried to get used to the conditions and see what the pink ball was doing.
“It wasn’t doing a lot but you had to be very watchful. England has a good attack with Anderson and Broad so I had to be smart with the way I played.”
Blackwood boasts an excellent record against England, having scored 402 runs in four matches at an average of 80.4 runs per innings.
His lone Test century, an unbeaten 112, came against them in Antigua two years ago, and he also made memorable 85 during the same series in Barbados, which helped the Windies win the match and level the three-match series 1-1.
“I enjoy playing against England. They always bring the crowd. There is always a big crowd when we face them,” Blackwood noted.
“The crowds inspire me, you know … they appreciate good batting. Playing here in England is a wonderful experience. The facilities are amazing and the outfields are lush and fast. You get great value for your shots.”
West Indies have been engulfed with criticism following their innings and 209-run defeat last weekend but Blackwood promised a better showing over the next few days.
“We are a group of fighters, we won’t fall. We lost in the first but we regrouped and we know we can do it,” he stressed.
“I was there when we beat England [in Barbados] to draw that series. Last year against Pakistan [in Sharjah] and I was there again when we beat Pakistan in Barbados, so I know as a team we can do it.”