SOUTHAMPTON, England – Right-hander Shamarh Brooks yesterday reiterated the importance of West Indies’ batsmen pulling their weight in the upcoming England series, especially coming on the heels of inconsistent performances in the two recent warm-up matches.
The tourists’ batting has developed a notorious reputation for being unpredictable and is expected to come under the microscope in often difficult English conditions, against the prodigious likes of seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
"The guys have been working very, very hard. We know the English bowling attack is a good one [but] once we bat well, I think we have a very good chance," said Brooks, who has played three Tests since making his debut a year ago.
"Spending time at the crease will be key and as long as we apply ourselves, spend some time out there, it will get easier. We need as a batting unit to stand up in this series and make the difference.”
Frontline batsman provided some reassurance in last week’s three-day ‘inter-squad’ fixture at Old Trafford as opener Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Brooks and wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich all struck half-centuries.
There was no such enterprise in this week’s four-day game, however, with Brathwaite, Hope, opener John Campbell and Roston Chase all managing only single digits in their only knock.
Captain Jason Holder, Test cricket’s top-ranked all-rounder, struggled with nought, five and two in his three innings.
In contrast, the Caribbean side’s pace attack looked sharp and aggressive and Brooks said it was critical the batting unit backed up the bowlers.
“Clearly our bowling will be our strength, and has been for the past couple of years. If you look at our batting, when we do get it right as a unit we have won games,” he pointed out.
“That’s why I’m stressing on the point that we need to bat well, especially against a team like England at home, who are going to be very challenging.
“The coach, I guess he would feel that way because of what he saw in the last game, where the bowlers really raised the intensity and we (batting) fell down.
“But I still don’t feel that when we come to the Test series, it will go that way. We need to apply ourselves, stick to the basics and stick to our game plans.”
He added: “Some of us got the opportunity to bat and spend time at the crease. It’s still a batsman or bowlers game. Our bowlers bowled well, especially in the second game – our Test bowlers really came with a different intensity.
“It’s good to get out there and have a practice game but I think we are backing our preparation to bring success in this series.”
West Indies arrived on England’s south coast on Friday to finalise preparations for the opening Test starting Wednesday, after spending just over three weeks at their “bio-secure” Old Trafford facility in Manchester.
They engaged in intense training and net sessions while undergoing a two-week quarantine, before turning their attention to the two practice games.
Brooks said the buildup to the series had been adequate and West Indies were champing at the bit.
“I think we’ve had enough time to prepare. We’ve been here three, four weeks now, we’ve had two practice games, and I think the intensity in those practice games was decent,” he said.
“But having said that, we just came off a first-class season as well, so it’s not like we are out of the woods in terms of not being in cricket form.
“I know three months [in lockdown in the Caribbean without cricket] might seem like a while but I think the four weeks we have had here would be enough time to get ourselves back in shape and ready for this Test series.”