Fitter Windies bowlers can challenge world's best batsmen claims Estwick

By Sports Desk June 16, 2020

West Indies bowling coach Roddy Estwick is confident that the bowling unit’s steady improvement over the past several years means they are now a match for any team in the world.

The Windies are currently preparing for a return to international cricket with the upcoming tour of England, after a globally enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Ahead of the series, the regional team is likely to be encouraged by the fact that it once again has a full complement of first choice strike bowlers. The likes of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, and Alzarri Joseph are all available having recovered from injury.  The regional team’s bowling attack has on occasion shown that they can be a handful for even top batting line-ups.  Against England, in the Caribbean last year, Roach and Holder both claimed four-wicket hauls, with Gabriel and Joseph getting among the wickets as well.  Estwick believes a major difference that has boosted the team's bowling performance in recent years is its level of fitness.

“What we’ve done is to improve our fitness,  now we can sustain pressure,” Estwick said via a news conference.

“If you look back in the 80s, that’s one thing the fast bowlers had, it’s fitness.  Another thing is that they (current players) are now understanding fast bowling.  They have got to that age, Kemar and Shannon they are leading the charge and they are very experienced,” he added.

 “Jason Holder has become a much better Test match bowler in the last two years and Alzarri Joseph is now beginning to show his potential.  So were have four fast bowlers where we can challenge any team in the world.”

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    West Indies head coach Phil Simmons believes his captain, Jason Holder’s, 1-43, during England’s second innings was as important as any bowling feats throughout the fourth day.

    The West Indies will need just two wickets tomorrow and attempt to minimize the 170-run lead the hosts have after they were restricted to 284-8.

    The West Indies, leading England by 99 runs at the Ageas Bowl at the beginning of Saturday, were pushed back, as openers Rory Burns, 42, and Dom Sibley, 50, whittled down that lead.

    After lunch, things got worse for the West Indies, who had to remain patient as Zak Crawley, 76, and stand-in skipper Ben Stokes, 46, threatened to take the game away from them, pushing England’s lead in the match to 135 before the latter was removed by a fine piece of bowling from Holder.

    Holder, for the second time, turned Stokes around after just changing the field to include two gullies and had him caught by Shai Hope.

    It’s what he does. He comes back and puts in the big spells for the team.

    Simmons was speaking at the end of day four, highlighting what was a pivotal moment in the West Indies’ second stint on the field.

    England then lost five wickets for 35 runs, as Shannon Gabriel, 3-62, and Alzarri Joseph, 2-40, reduced England to 284-8, a lead of 170.

    “That’s the way he leads this team and I didn’t expect anything different,” said Simmons.

    “He was bowling for a while and you expected him to change but he wanted to make that breakthrough for the team.”

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    The West Indies, leading England by 99 runs at the Ageas Bowl at the beginning of Saturday, were pushed back, as openers Rory Burns, 42, and Dom Sibley, 50, whittled down that lead.

    After lunch, things got worse for the West Indies, who had to remain patient as Zak Crawley, 76, and stand-in skipper Ben Stokes, 46, threatened to take the game away from them, pushing England’s lead in the match to 135 before the latter was removed by a fine piece of bowling from Jason Holder.

    England then lost five wickets for 35 runs, as Shannon Gabriel, 3-62, and Alzarri Joseph, 2-40, reduced England to 284-8, a lead of 170.

    With just two wickets needed on tomorrow’s final day, the West Indies are hoping not to have to chase too many and to be given the time to do it.  

    All you can do is get the remaining wickets for as little runs as possible and then bat normally,” said Simmons at the end of day four.

    “If we bat for five hours tomorrow to chase 180-190 then it is a normal batting day,” he said.

    Simmons is wary of what it may be like batting on a final-day Ageas Bowl pitch though.

    All the batsmen have called the pitch ‘dry’, which could make it particularly difficult on the final day of a Test match.

    “It’s not a chase where you have to go at the bowling. We hope that in the morning, whatever roller is used, will flatten out the wicket so we can get a good start,” said Simmons.

    According to the former West Indies opening batsman-turned-allrounder, the West Indies can take heart from the way they batted in the first innings and that it should give them confidence headed into the final day.

    “I think the confidence from the way we batted, the attitude towards batting in the first innings, is going to be a huge plus for us, batting in the second innings. Whether it be 170 or 190 it is going to be the same attitude that you will need to chase it.”

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    England suffered a late collapse in Southampton to close day four on 284-8 – giving them a lead of 170 over West Indies – to leave the first Test delicately poised. 

    Having erased a first-innings deficit of 114, the hosts appeared to be gaining the upper hand as they reached 249-3, Zak Crawley combining with stand-in captain Ben Stokes to put on a partnership of 98 for the fourth wicket.

    The pair built on the good work done by openers Dom Sibley (50) and Rory Burns (42) but West Indies fought back impressively in the final session, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph each taking two of the five wickets to go down.

    Stokes (46), however, fell for a second time in the match to opposite number Jason Holder when seemingly going well, steering the West Indies skipper to one of two catchers positioned in the gully region.

    As for Crawley, the right-hander's impressive innings came to an end on 76 when he chipped a return catch back to Joseph, who then followed up by bowling Jos Buttler for nine.

    Gabriel produced a fine spell in fading light to bowl both Dom Bess and Ollie Pope, the latter via an inside edge, and though England avoided being dismissed prior to stumps, they had undoubtedly let slip a glorious opportunity after battling so hard to forge their way in front.

    Burns and Sibley continued on from the overnight total of 15 without loss in the early stages of Saturday's play, pushing their opening stand on to 72.

    Spinner Roston Chase finally claimed the initial breakthrough for West Indies, aided by Burns hitting a long hop to point, while he also tempted Joe Denly to chip a simple catch to mid-wicket. Having reached 29, England's number three once again failed to capitalise on a promising start. 

    Sibley did carry on to register his first half-century on home soil in Tests, though departed soon after reaching the landmark. 

    Reprieved when bowled off a no ball earlier in the same over, he was caught down leg by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich off the bowling of Gabriel, whose closing burst saw him finish with figures of 3-62.


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