BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Elegant stroke-maker Shai Hope says West Indies have already trained their sights on the Sri Lanka Test series, as they target success in the three-Test rubber in June.
The 24-year-old has been among several Windies cricketers who have been preparing for the upcoming series which will see matches at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, the Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia and Kensington Oval here – which will be an historic first day/night Test in the Caribbean. “Everyone has their eyes on the Sri Lanka series. It is something big for us as individuals and as a team,” the Barbadian told reporters here. “We haven’t played Test cricket for quite a while. Our last Test was in New Zealand in December so we want to get back out there and get back in the groove.”
West Indies suffered a disappointing whitewash on that tour of New Zealand, losing the opening Test in Wellington by an innings and 67 runs and the second in Hamilton by 240 runs – both inside four days.
The series was a culmination of three consecutive away tours, following on from trips to England and Zimbabwe, and the contest against Sri Lanka represents a welcome chance to play on home soil again.
Hope said the players were taking nothing for granted, and were ironing out any issues well in advance to ensure they were well prepared. “We have been working, preparing for the series. The work never stops,” stressed Hope, who recently won the prestigious Wisden Cricketer-of-the-Year award. “You have to stay fit and keep fit and get ready for whatever cricket is on the horizon. The key to my preparations is to identify the areas where I need to improve and work to get better.” The Windies are yet to name a squad for the series but once selected, the players are expected to assemble for a training camp to intensify preparation for the tour.
Hope is famous for his superb match-winning batting display against England in the second Test at Headingley last year. He made 147 and 118 not out as the West Indies won by five wickets to stun the cricket world, especially after losing the first Test at Edgbaston by an innings and 209 runs inside three days.
Hope’s feat marked the first time in 127 years that a batsman made twin centuries in a first-class match at the ground. West Indies last hosted Sri Lanka back in 2008, when the series ended 1-1. Sri Lanka won the first Test in Guyana and Windies captured the second in Trinidad.
The Asian side have toured the Caribbean three times, winning one, losing three and drawing two of the six Tests played.