Bowling adjustments key for West Indies in pink-ball warm-up

After being flayed in their opening warm-up match, West Indies’ bowlers are hoping the pink ball can provide a tonic in the twilight four-day clash against a strong Prime Minister’s XI in their final hit out before the two-Test series versus Australia.

West Indies’ bowlers were listless against a NSW/ACT XI, who compiled a massive 426 for 4 in the drawn three-day fixture in Canberra. Their frontline pace attack went wickless with young quicks Jayden Seales and Alzarri Joseph wayward, as alarm bells rang ahead of Test matches in pace-friendly Perth and a day-nighter in Adelaide.

It was a worrying start for an inexperienced West Indies, coming off the back of their stunning first round exit at the T20 World Cup and who have not played a Test in Australia since January 2016.

Only a handful of their players, including spearhead Kemar Roach, have previous Test experience in Australia – a graveyard site for West Indies who have not won a Test there in 25 years.

They are hoping to build confidence against a formidable Prime Minister’s XI boasting capped Test batters Marcus Harris, Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb in what is effectively an Australia A team.

West Indies’ bowlers will be hoping to acclimatise quickly with the pink ball having lost all three of their day-night Tests – the last being over four years ago. In contrast, pioneers Australia have mastered the conditions to sport an unblemished record from 10 matches, including six at the Adelaide Oval.

“[We want to] get accustomed to the pink ball…there is a difference [compared to the red ball] and most of the guys haven’t played a pink ball Test,” West Indies coach Phil Simmons told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. “Good that we have this game so we know what it [pink ball] will do during different periods in the day and at night in preparation for Adelaide.

“We need to make sure we bowl the right lengths with the pink ball, which will be different to the red ball. We’ve seen with fielding and slip catching that it’s a lot easier to spot.”

West Indies’ bid for a major series upset starts at Optus Stadium on November 30 in the first Test played in Perth since the Covid-19 pandemic. The tourists once dominated at the nearby WACA ground during their heyday and can expect similar fast and bouncy conditions on the drop-in wicket at the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium, which has hosted just two Tests.

“We’ve been successful in Perth over the years. We know it’s a new stadium. The carry and quickness of the pitch…batters can also play shots. We’re looking forward to it,” said Simmons, who took a memorable juggling catch in the slips off Curtly Ambrose at the WACA during West Indies’ last Test victory in Australia in February 1997.

With inclement weather having blighted the east coast of Australia for much of the early cricket season, West Indies are hoping for clear conditions in chilly Canberra for their final warm-up.

“We would love some sun, haven’t had much since we’ve been here,” Simmons said. “We are looking for a hard game of cricket to put us in tune for next week in Perth. It’s hugely important for how we bowl and sharpen up as batsmen…it will tell how we go into the Test match in Perth.”


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