NORTH SOUND, Antigua, (CMC) – Head coach Phil Simmons has praised the maturity of West Indies’ batting in the just concluded Sri Lanka series, pointing to a new hunger from batsmen for large scores and their growing ability to bat for long periods.
The two-match series finished in a nil-all draw after West Indies batted the entire final day of the opening Test to save that contest and Sri Lanka responded in kind by also frustrating the hosts on the last day of the second Test which ended Good Friday.
“The biggest takeaway is that we can bat on a fifth day pitch to save a game, to draw a Test match and it’s something we haven’t done for a while and we needed to make sure we were able to do it,” Simmons said.
“And then the attitude of the team keeps growing, the attitude of guys wanting to make runs and wanting to score hundreds, and it was good to see the captain (Kraigg Brathwaite) getting a hundred after a long barren period.”
He added: “The ability to bat and score the runs we wanted to [also impressed me]. We talked about scoring 400 in a first innings and 350 in a first innings and we did that in one. “But just the general attitude towards batting on the whole in Test matches, it keeps improving.”
West Indies got a half-century from all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall in the first innings of the opening Test and a maiden Test hundred from Nkrumah Bonner in the second innings, with rookie Kyle Mayers chipping in with a half-century.
Set an improbable 375 to win, West Indies resumed the final day on 34 for one and easily saw out the three sessions with an accomplished batting effort.
Brathwaite was the highlight of the second Test, hitting 126 in the first innings to notch his ninth hundred and following up with 85 in the second innings. There was also a first innings fifty for Cornwall while Mayers and former captain Jason Holder also scored half-centuries in the second innings as West Indies declared on 280 for four. Simmons said there was now a common theme among the batting group where they recognised it was important to spend time at the crease in order to gather runs. “I think the important thing now is that everybody’s looking to occupy the crease. People are looking to bat for long periods,” Simmons pointed out. “And our depth goes deeper because Alzarri Joseph and Rahkeem Cornwall have shown within the last three series that they can each bat and they can provide that 50-100 run partnership later down to take us to the 350s and 400s. “So it was great to see Rahkeem’s batting coming to the fore and in all, the batting has stood up in the last four Test matches and this is a great thing because before that, the bowling was carrying us.”