Batting Under Spotlight as Windies Target England Take-down

UNDER PRESSURE: Batsman Shai Hope looks on during a net session at Old Trafford on Thursday.

MANCHESTER, England – Captain Jason Holder said on Thursday that West Indies were fully aware of the stakes involved and were resolved to produce an improved performance, as they prepared for Friday’s start of the do-or-die final Test at Old Trafford.

Stressing the side had remained upbeat despite their 113-run defeat in the second Test last Monday, Holder said they were focussed on improving their execution in every department, especially the batting which had proven to be their undoing recently.

The three-match series is tied 1-1 after West Indies won the opening Test at Southampton by four wickets nearly two weeks ago.

“The spirits in the dressing room are still very, very high. We still have a really good opportunity here to win this series and everybody is just upbeat for the occasion and we know what’s at stake,” Holder told reporters via Zoom.

“Having the Test matches with the short turnaround has been tough and no doubt both teams will be feeling it but we’ve got enough motivation to keep pushing. We’ve got a chance to win this series.

“We’ve been playing some decent cricket so it’s just a matter of righting the wrongs you had in the last game and just make sure we hit the ground running and start this Test match really well.”

He continued: “You need 20 wickets to win a Test match and we need to get some solid persons to set the game up well. I think once you get these two things happening, more or less the game kind of goes in the direction you want it to go in.

“We will pay special attention to starting well and putting some runs on the board in our first innings and our bowlers just need to get 20 wickets.”

Following the second Test defeat, the Windies batting yet again came under heavy scrutiny, especially after collapses in both innings, with the spotlight failing squarely on Shai Hope and opener John Campbell.

Hope has managed 57 runs from four innings while Campbell has gathered 52, and are the only two of the specialist batsmen not to register a half-century in the series.

While Campbell has played only eight Tests and is at the start of his career, Hope has found himself in a protracted slump, averaging a mere 19 over the last two years.

But even with speculation swirling over Hope’s place in the side, Holder came to the defence of the embattled right-hander.

“All of my players have got my full backing. They know how I personally feel. Yes, some of them haven’t been getting the runs that they would like but more or less it is just giving them that full support,” Holder stressed.

“I’m 100 per cent behind Shai. We all know what Shai can produce – he’s done it before at this level in Test cricket. He’s arguably one of the best one-day batsmen in the world and we know the calibre of player he can be so I’ve got full confidence in Shai to get some runs.

“He’s gotten starts so far in this series, he’s not far off from converting the starts and doing something special for us so he’s got my full support.”

Still, Holder maintains that a galvanised effort in the field and with the bat will be critical if West Indies were to win their first series on English soil in 32 years.

“I don’t think we fielded well in the last game so that’s definitely a cause for us to really lift it and put in a much better effort in the field,” said Holder.

“That is just the main issue that I had in the last game. I think we were pretty competitive on the other two fronts.

“Yes, we would love our batters to convert a few more starts. We’re yet to a get hundred so far on this tour so again, it’s a perfect opportunity for a batter to step up and get a hundred.”

Play bowls off at 11 am (6 am Eastern Caribbean time).

SQUADS:

ENGLAND – Joe Root (captain) James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich, Nkrumah Bonner, Raymon Reifer, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Chemar Holder, Rahkeem Cornwall.

CMC

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