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Ready to go

Gibson says Windies well prepared for Kiwis

Coach of the West Indies team Otis Gibson is confident that the regional side will perform well in the upcoming series against New Zealand. The regional selectors have named a 13-man squad for the first Test on June 8.

“We have used the camp at the 3Ws Oval to iron out any technical problems in our batting and bowling departments. Several of our batsmen had good knocks; Marlon [Samuels] got a hundred during the practice game yesterday; Darren [Bravo] got one last week;  Shiv [Chanderpaul] also had a few good knocks. Our batsmen have been well prepared.  We are looking forward to the start of the series in Jamaica,”  Gibson told a media conference at the 3Ws Oval this afternoon.

Gibson said opening batsman Chris Gayle should be fit  for the opening Test in Jamaica.

“Chris saw a specialist in Germany who said he should be ready for the first Test.  He still has a few more days to rest his back before the match begins,” Gibson said. The Jamaica match will mark 100 Tests for the big Jamaican left-hander.

Gibson stated they would wait until the team reached Jamaica before deciding if off-spinner Shane Shillingford and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn would both be included in the final eleven. Benn last played for the West Indies in December 2010. Shillingford was suspended for an illegal bowling action in December, during West Indies’ tour to New Zealand. He made a successful return to competitive cricket with a match haul of 11 wickets for Windward Islands in a Regional Four Day Competition game in March and was subsequently cleared for an international return. The offspinner, however, cannot bowl his doosra, as it remains illegal.

Gibson said that even though his three fast bowlers Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor and Shannon Gabriel have been injured within recent times, he was sure they would be okay for the Test series.

“Taylor has been out of cricket for a while but this year he has played a full season for Jamaica and has done well, so I have no doubt that he is fit and rearing to play. Gabriel did not have a good time in New Zealand but has bowled well for Trinidad this season and Roach has bowled good spells in the two practice games we held here. Based on Gabriel and Taylor’s performance in the first-class season and the manner in which Roach has performed during the practice games here, I think they are fit enough to play,”  the coach said.

Plagued by injuries since his debut in 2003, Taylor returned to competitive cricket for Jamaica in a one-dayer against the touring Ireland side in February. He then
finished as the second-highest wicket-taker for Jamaica in the Regional Four Day Competition, bagging 25 wickets in eight games at an average of 25.28. Taylor’s last Test appearance was in November 2009, against Australia in Brisbane.

Roach, on the other hand, has not played a Test since the home series against Zimbabwe in March 2013. A shoulder injury forced him out of the India tour in November last year after which he underwent surgery. Since April, Roach has been working with BCA coach Vasbert Drakes, West Indies coach Ottis Gibson and his Maple teammate Corey Collymore .

The coach said his team would be going to Jamaica with high hopes. He admitted that the West Indies did not play the type of cricket they were capable of playing in their
last series against New Zealand away but he expected home advantage to work in the regional side’s favour.

He expressed regret that the people of Guyana would not be seeing Test cricket due to the change of venue of the third Test from Georgetown to Bridgetown but hoped by the time the teams reached Barbados the West Indies would be wrapping up the series.

Kensington Oval has a good cricket wicket. The last time Shane [Shillinford] played there he took ten wickets and Benn has intimate knowledge of the conditions, so I hope we will be wrapping up the series by the time the third Test is played here, Gibson said.

The series will mark Denesh Ramdin’s first at the helm.

Squad: Denesh Ramdin (captain), Sulieman Benn, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kirk Edwards, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Shane Shillingford, Jerome Taylor.

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