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JAMAICA - cricket

Third day of the second Test WI vs Bangladesh

Boost for Windies - Wednesday 09, June-2004

West Indies Pedro Collins (left) and Dwayne Smith (second from left) share in the jubilation after Smith caught Mushfiqur Rahman on the third day of the second Test. West Indies Pedro Collins (left) and Dwayne Smith (second from left) share in the jubilation after Smith caught Mushfiqur Rahman on the third day of the second Test.

Stories by HAYDN GILL in Jamaica

KINGSTON – An itinerary which slots in limited-overs matches ahead of the more important Test series should make West Indies much more of a threat in an effort to retain the Wisden Trophy on the imminent tour of England.
The assessment has come from captain Brian Lara, against the background of a developing trend in which West Indies play much better towards the end of a series.

Common practice these days is for tours to start with Test matches and conclude with One-Day Internationals, but it is the reverse for West Indies on their nine-week trip to England.

Lara’s men will participate in the tri-nation limited-overs Nat West Series which also involves New Zealand from June 26 to July 11, before playing the four-match Test series from July 22 to August 23.

After embarrassingly losing 3-0 to England in the Caribbean earlier this year and playing below potential against Bangladesh, Lara concedes West Indies are not yet ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

“That’s why I appreciate the fact that we are playing the One-Day series first,” he said after West Indies completed a series-winning victory in the second Cable & Wireless Test against Bangladesh at Sabina Park on Monday.

“I place a lot of importance in that One-Day series, to winning, but also the fact that the Test series comes later and we’re going to have guys who are going to be ready under English conditions.”

Against Bangladesh, it took West Indies ten days before they produced their true potential and it was a similar story in the preceding series against England.

The identical pattern took place on tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe and it was also evident in last season’s home series against Australia and the 2002 trip to India.

“We seem to need to get accustomed to the opposition. By the time we get accustomed, it is all over. The series is already lost,” Lara said.

“We need to start playing cricket from in front. Good teams go out there and conquer the opposition early. It doesn’t matter if they don’t see them.”

While Lara was happy to see the ODIs coming at the start of the tour, vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan held another view.

“I would personally have loved to go into the Test series, having completed this Test series,” he said.

“But we are professionals. There is nothing we can do about it. As professionals, you should be able to adjust to your game.”

The Nat West Series will give West Indies a maximum of seven matches. It involves three preliminary games each against England and New Zealand, culminating with the final at Lord’s for the two best teams in the early stages of the competition.

“We’re going to try and use the One-Day tournament to prepare ourselves,” Lara said.

“A lot of the series we have played in the past, we have played Test cricket first and suffered in that area and all of a sudden we found ourselves getting accustomed to the opposition when it was a bit too late.

“It will be nice to spend the first few weeks in England playing One-Day cricket. Winning is very important, but I see beyond that.”

A number of factors were identified among the reasons why West Indies always seem to be playing catch-up cricket.

Methods of preparation, fitness levels, and intensity at training sessions were among those singled out by Lara.

“We need to cross a lot of hurdles off the field before we get onto the field,” he said.

“We seem to be able to build up intensity as the series goes on and the results seem to be a little too late.

“We’re going to be placing a lot of importance on the first month in England, ensuring that everybody remains focused and everybody gets it right for the immediate cricket at hand.”


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