BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, CMC – Though winning the upcoming two-Test series against Zimbabwe will be vital, head coach Stuart Law said Thursday continuing to make key improvements as a Test unit would be the overall objective.
The Australian said he had been impressed with the strides made on the recent tour of England – even though the Caribbean side lost the series 2-1 – and was hoping to see the squad display more of those qualities on the current tour.
West Indies have been installed as heavy favourites to sweep the series, having never lost a Test to the African nation in eight previous meetings.
“You can’t focus on the end result. You’ve got to focus on the little steps you’ve got to make to get through [the game],” Law cautioned ahead of Saturday’s start of the opening Test at Queens Sports Club.
“We have targets, we have goals. I am sure the boys they want to make sure they’re giving themselves every opportunity to win every contest we go into.
“We just had a reasonable result in the UK – the second Test was outstanding. We lost the other two Tests but we started to show some fight. After that first Test, to come back the way we did was an outstanding effort.”
West Indies capitulated in the opening Test at Edgbaston by an innings inside three days but against all the odds, rebounded to win the second Test at Headingley by five wickets.
Law said both the heavy defeat and the stunning win had been important to the team’s development
“Now, it’s just a matter of the boys putting what they learnt over there [in practice again],” he stressed.
“What happened over there at Edgbaston really creates a bit of mental toughness and I think we need to be that tough from ball one on Saturday. We need to … hang in the contest for as long as we can and push towards what we need.”
Based on the decent progress shown on the England tour, selectors opted to retain the entire squad for the Zimbabwe series, giving players yet another chance to make their mark.
Batsmen like Kyle Hope, who mustered just 41 runs from six innings in the three-Test England series and wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich, who scraped 24 runs also from six innings while struggling with the gloves, have been given chances to redeem themselves.
Law said it was important selection was not based purely on immediate returns but instead, allowing players the chance to find their touch without the burden of selection pressure.
“We’re not about picking players and discarding them after only a couple games. We are trying to give everyone a fair shake at putting something up on the board – something to really look at, something substantial,” he explained.
“We’re trying to get away from the fact you pick someone, they don’t score runs immediately or take wickets immediately, you send them back and bring someone else in. That just creates an atmosphere in the dressing room where you are always looking over your shoulder.
“We want to get away from that, we want to make sure we are consistent with our selections but there comes a time when players are responsible for their performances out in the middle.”
He continued: “If there are no performances coming forward, they have to make sure they know and they do everything possible to get it right out there. They’ve got to perform, that’s the number one thing … but we’d like to give everyone a fair chance to stake their claim.”