ON what is expected to be a bouncy and quick Optus Stadium pitch – a far cry from the slower Caribbean surfaces – West Indies’ pace attack has been urged to be restrained and patient against the experienced Australia batters in the first Test starting on Wednesday.
Having not won a Test in Australia for 25 years, West Indies are the underdogs in the two-Test series, but their talented quicks provide hope of a positive result in likely bowler-friendly conditions. While it will be tempting for them to unleash an all-out assault against a team returning from a four-month Test break, they have been advised against bowling too full or too short at a ground where runs can come quickly.
“People get carried away seeing carry and bounce, but you still have got to find a really good length suitable for the wicket,” Jason Holder said on Monday.
“Understanding when to attack, when to defend, and just understanding the context of scenarios and the phase of the game.
“I think the most important thing for our bowlers is to make sure the Australian batters work really hard for their runs. We’ve just got to assess the conditions early and make the necessary adjustments.”
Holder said he would be available to bowl in the Tests after not being used during the two warm-up matches.
Anticipation is building for fiery quick Alzarri Joseph’s first Test in Australia. In a bid to rattle a veteran Australia top order, Joseph is expected to be used in short, sharp bursts in warm Perth.
“He’s got pace and he’s very aggressive. A guy who will be an enforcer,” Holder said of Joseph, who can consistently bowl at around 145kph/90mph. The added responsibility underlines Joseph’s growing maturity after making his Test debut as a 19-year-old in 2016.
“I was actually quite shocked that he’s 26… we celebrated his birthday on tour recently,” Holder said. “It’s amazing the time that has flown, so good to see him fit and healthy. He’s obviously developed a lot as he was very introverted, and didn’t say much in the dressing room. He’s a lot more comfortable around his peers, he’s one of the more seasoned campaigners when it comes to all-format cricket.”
Joseph should form an exciting pairing with Jayden Seales, who has burst on to Test cricket with 36 wickets at 21.77 from nine matches.
“I think Jayden has a lot of skill… he has swing and control. I think that’s his two greatest attributes,” Holder said. “Maybe there won’t be much swing in these conditions but he’s good enough to extract some seam movement.
While West Indies’ dip in white-ball cricket was underlined by an early exit at the T20 World Cup recently, they have shown glimpses of a Test rebirth marked by an impressive home victory against England in March.
“If you look at the nucleus of the Test side, I think we’ve been together for the last five, six years,” Holder said. “I think that is really important in comparison to the other sides… probably a little bit more chopping and changing.
“I think our long-format cricket has really developed, so it’s really good signs and a lot of our players are developing.”
With West Indies refreshed after a much-needed breather, Holder took inspiration from quick Kemar Roach’s memorable venomous spell against Ricky Ponting at the WACA in 2009 as they eyed ending a hoodoo in Australia.
“It’s a tour that people can make their names. Kemar Roach… has gone on to be one of our leading bowlers,” Holder said. “We’ve been through a lot as a side and it’s not going to be an easy tour.