CHELMSFORD, England, (CMC) – West Indies open their tour of England today when they face Essex in the first of three three-day first class games, as they chase form and momentum ahead of a difficult three-Test series.
The Caribbean side arrived from the Caribbean on Saturday and following a training session at Lord’s on Sunday, travelled here to the East England town to begin final preparations for the encounter at Essex County Ground.
Batting coach Toby Radford said Monday the conditions at Essex provided the ideal platform for the Windies to launch their preparations.
“[Preparations] have gone really well. We’ve had two good practice days – one at Lord’s at the Nursery Ground and today at Chelmsford in bright sunshine which was great for the guys,” the Englishman said.
“They’ve all had a good workout and are looking forward to the game tomorrow against a good side. Essex are top of Division One in the County Championships so a good side and always a lovely wicket to play on [at] Chelmsford.
“It’s one of the better surfaces in County cricket so I am hoping the guys will make full use of quality practice.”
The Windies 15-man squad is a largely inexperienced one in English conditions, with just three members having played a Test here before.
And with nearly two weeks before the first Test at Edgbaston bowls off, Radford said the preparation period would be critical as players needed to acclimatise quickly to the new conditions.
“We had a good camp in Barbados … and now we’ve got three warm-up games before the first Test match,” he pointed out.
“So I think it’s making full use of good quality opposition, good surfaces and batters getting time at the crease and bowlers working out what lengths they want to bowl on these English pitches.”
West Indies are widely expected to face a difficult time against the English who are ranked fourth in the ICC Test rankings, four places higher than their embattled rivals.
Further, the Windies have not won a series in England in nearly three decades but Radford said the young side were highly motivated and intent on springing a surprise.
“I think everyone wants to play in a series against England in England so all the players are really revved up for it and will want to make a name for themselves and obviously as a team will want to do well,” he noted.
“We’ve had some good series in recent times against Pakistan away [and] Pakistan at home so taking on England in England is going to be a big tough task but I think people are going to stand up and we’re going to hopefully surprise one or two.”
The game bowls off at 11 am (6 am Eastern Caribbean time).