West Indies interim batting coach Floyd Reifer has dismissed concerns about the team’s batting line-up, ahead of the Test series against England, insisting the unit is more than ready to adapt to difficult conditions.

Despite the team widely being acknowledged as having a potent bowling line-up heading into the series, many have raised concerns about how the Windies will fare at the crease against experienced English bowlers and potentially damp, cold conditions.

The absence of the talented duo of Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo, who opted out of the tour for health reasons, have done little to assuage those fears but Reifer, who was recently returned to the coaching unit, insists the team’s hard work so far gives them a good chance of success for the upcoming series.

“I keep hearing everyone saying they are concerned about our batting.  We have some experienced guys here and the boys have been working really hard,” Brathwaite told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“We understand the English conditions now. Young Hope and Brathwaite who were here before are now experienced players…” he added.

“What we have been working on is playing the ball late, in the Caribbean, our batters tend to go fairly hard at the ball but we are working on playing the ball as late as possible, and trying to leave alone as many deliveries as possible on top of the off-stump.  It’s important when the ball is moving around you try to play as little as possible and rotate the strike.  We have been having a lot of discussion on battling their spells and building innings.”

The Caribbean team will not need to look far for an example of its batting line-up struggling in English conditions than the first Test of the tour three years ago.  After England made 514, the West Indies were dismissed for 168 and 137.

West Indies captain described the upcoming tour of England as a huge step as the team and support staff departed for the 2020 Sandals Tour of England on Monday evening. The touring party is expected to arrive in the United Kingdom on Tuesday.

The players arrived in Antigua earlier Monday on two charter flights that collected players from across the Caribbean during the course of the day. The West Indies will play three Tests during the seven-week tour in defence of the Wisden Trophy they won during their home series against England in 2019.

“This is a huge step forward in cricket and in sports in general as we travel over to England for this series. A lot has gone into the preparations for what will be a new phase in the game. I’m happy for the support and well-wishes we have been receiving from our loyal and dedicated fans once it was confirmed the tour would go-ahead. This has been a source of great inspiration,” said  Holder.

“We have a fantastic group of cricketers, coaches, medical staff and support staff and I know everyone is eagerly looking forward to the start of the first match when we can get back on the field of play. There is expectation in the air that we will defend the Wisden Trophy and we will certainly put in the work and give it our all to keep hold of it.”

On arrival into Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, members of the touring party will be tested again for COVID-19 prior to the seven-week tour during which they will live, train and play in a “bio-secure” environment, as part of the comprehensive medical and operational plans to ensure player and staff safety.

The bio-secure protocols will restrict movement in and out of the venues, so a group of reserve players will travel to train and help prepare the Test squad and ensure replacements are available in case of any injury.

Meanwhile, Floyd Reifer will join the coaching staff as batting coach. He will fill in for Monty Desai, who is based in India but is unable to travel due to travel restrictions. He will join the other members of the coaching staff that includes Phil Simmons (Head Coach) and Roddy Estwick (Assistant Coach), and Rayon Griffith (Assistant Coach).

Team analyst A.R. Srikkanth, who is s also based in India will work remotely from Bangaluru for the duration of the tour.

The medical support staff will be bolstered by the additions of Dr Praimanand Singh (Team Doctor), Neil Barry Jr (Physiotherapist), Nkoyo Meade (Massage Therapist) and Donald LaGuerre (Team Psychologist).

The series will feature three back-to-back Test matches for the Wisden Trophy, starting July 8. The first Test will be played at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton (July 8-12) with the second and third matches at Old Trafford in Manchester from July 16-20 and then July 24-28.

Test Squad: Jason Holder (Captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer and Kemar Roach.

Reserve Players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua DaSilva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shayne Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas and Jomel Warrican.

Head coach of the newly formed West Indies Emerging Players squad Floyd Reifer insists the primary focus of taking part in the upcoming Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 Cup is primarily about developing talent and not winning.

The former Windies interim coach has been given the task of honing the talent of players who might miss out on a spot in the various franchises due to heated competition for places.  Reifer is confident that there is plenty of talent to work with.  He also previously served as head coach of the Combined Campuses & Colleges Marooners.

“I expect to see some good performances from the players. It’s a very young side that we have put together. There is a lot of talent in the squad, so I am eager and looking forward to working with the players. I want to see them put their energies into the tournament and winning a few games, but for me, it’s about developing the talent that is there and making sure that at the end of the tournament there is some form of improvement, individually and as a team,” Reifer said.

“I think it is a balanced squad. We also have a few players in the squad that will be preparing for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2020 South Africa, so they will be looking to have a good outing in the tournament,” he added.

“We have some young players in the squad in the fast bowling department, so the bowling attack looks promising. In terms of the batting, I have not seen many of the players previously, but I am ready and willing to work with them and see what they have to offer.”

The Emerging Players squad have been pooled with last year’s losing finalists Guyana Jaguars, as well as hosts and 11-time champions Trinidad & Tobago Red Force, recent winners Windward Islands Volcanoes and the United States for Group “B” matches which will be played at the Queen’s Park Oval and Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad for this year’s Super50 Cup.

 

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