Former West Indies fast bowler, Ian Bishop, has described the Kraigg Brathwaite-led West Indies Test squad as “heroes” for their decision to tour Bangladesh, especially after several first-choice players backed out due to COVID-19 fears.
Speaking during commentary in the first session on the final day of the opening Test here, the well respected international television cricket analyst said regardless of the outcome of the series, the highest credit needed to be afforded the players for their courage.
Brathwaite is leading an under-strength side in the two-Test series in Bangladesh following the decision by several first players to decline selection over concerns about the local COVID-19 situation.
“I am saying this without any fear, whatever happens to these young guys on this tour – however they lose – I won’t criticize them at all. There’s no criticism for them from me,” the 53-year-old Bishop said before West Indies went on to pull off the fifth-highest successful run chase in Test history by overhauling 395 to win by three wickets on Sunday.
“The one session [on the third day] with the last three wickets [of the first innings] the other day, I’ll criticize that. When (Kemar) Roach, and (Rahkeem) Cornwall and (Jomel) Warrican threw their wickets away, I thought that was bad. I expect more of those guys.
“They’ve taken a game into the fifth day here. The last time West Indies were here, the games lasted three days. These guys have taken it into the fifth day.
“It is small consolation [but] to me, these guys are heroes. They’ve chosen in a pandemic to come down here and should be applauded, whatever the shortcomings,” he said.
Ten players, headed by Test captain Jason Holder and white ball skipper Kieron Pollard, opted out of the tour due to what Cricket West Indies labelled “COVID-19 concerns and personal fears”.
Selectors were then forced to call up a plethora of debutants across both the one-day and Test squad, leaving the travelling contingent short of experience.
Four uncapped players were named in the 15-man Test squad and left-hander Kyle Mayers, one of three debutants in the first Test, struck 40 in the first innings before returning to stroke an astonishing unbeaten 210 to spearhead West Indies’ run chase.
He shared a historic 216-run, fourth-wicket stand with another debutant, Nkrumah Bonner, who made 86, to play the platform for the victory.