Windies “A” head coach Graeme West said the imminent home series against Sri Lanka “A” is the perfect opportunity for a number of fringe players to advance their claims for recognition by the Selection Panel of Cricket West Indies at the highest levels of the game.
West was speaking ahead of the start of the series that begins with the first of three “Tests”, which bowled off on Wednesday at the Trelawny Multiplex in Jamaica, where all of the matches in the series, including three One-dayers, will be staged.
On the importance of players showing consistency, West said: “The players that have progressed to the senior team over the last 12 or 18 months have done it on the backs of some consistent performances in “A” Team matches. More of the same is required from the team, as a collective to do well, but with strong contributions from each individual. We have players in this squad at different points in their career, but there are a few of them that will feel they need to really make a move forward over the next few weeks and ahead of the start of the next regional season, so this is a really great opportunity to get ahead of the game.
On how preparations for the series have gone, he said: “I am very pleased with the work that the players have put in. The work in Antigua we did was good. Several of the players did not have a great opportunity to practice, due to the hurricanes in the Caribbean, but I feel everyone has got up to speed very quickly, and the two sessions we have had in Trelawny have been excellent. The quality has been high and the intensity has steadily increased as game-day arrives on Wednesday.”
On how he would define success in the series, West said: “Sri Lanka has come with a good mix of experienced and very promising players, so it would be pleasing to record a series victory against any them or any other visiting side for that matter. Apart from this, it would be good to see batsmen like Montcin Hodge and John Campbell, as well as Vishaul Singh, who has had an opportunity to play for the senior team, and captain Shamarh Brooks get significant scores. It will also be a big test for two of our fast bowlers, Reynard Leveridge and Oshane Thomas; they have just five matches between them, but they have great ability and can bowl quickly, so it will be important to see if they can keep it going throughout a day and a four-day match. In the spin bowling, we have players that are familiar with the “A” Team set-up and have been consistently performing in regional tournaments, so it would be a good opportunity for them to push their claims by taking wickets and bowling effectively in the conditions that we find throughout the series.”
On the value of “A” Team matches in the development of the players, he said: “They are invaluable to the players. It allows them to play against different methods. This is a home series, but when you travel and play in different conditions, it adds to a player’s methods, it adds to his experience and the beauty of having them back on the calendar. I feel that the players coming through the programme will be better prepared to move forward to the next level. It is required to be fitted in between the regional tournaments and international level, so they must be treated with importance. We use them to develop the players not just for the time we are together, but that they can take back to their franchises that would allow them to progress on a long-term basis than just in a three-match series.
The West Indies squad: Shamarh Brooks (Captain),Vishaul Singh (Vice-Captain),Sunil Ambris, John Campbell, YannicCariah, Rahkeem Cornwall, Sheldon Cottrell, Jahmar Hamilton, Montcin Hodge, Damion Jacobs, Keon Joseph, Reynard Leveridge and Oshane Thomas.
Schedule of matches: October: Wednesday 11 to Saturday 14 — 1st “Test”, Trelawny Multiplex, Jamaica (10:00 a.m.); Thursday 19 to Sun 22 — 2nd “Test”, Trelawny Multiplex (10:00 a.m. start, daily); Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 — 3rd “Test”, Sabina Park, Jamaica (2:00 p.m. daily).
November: Wednesday 1 — 1st One-day Match, Sabina Park (2:00 p.m.); Friday 3 — 2nd One-day Match, Sabina Park (2:00 p.m.), Sunday 5 — 3rd One-day Match, Trelawny Multiplex (9:30 a.m.).