Former West Indies bowler Ian Bishop took pride in his former team’s recent Test series win over England, and thinks the current crop is “filled with possibilities” enough to climb up the rankings and put a smile back on the face of Caribbean fans.
Despite the unexpected 2-1 win in the three-Test series, West Indies remain eighth in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings, bottom of the sport’s traditional powers.
The series against England showed that West Indies has depth in fast bowling, but Bishop identified two glaring deficiencies that need to be rectified for the team to have further success.
“They are looking for a spinner to be developed and want more consistency for the top-order batting,” the Trinidadian said in a telephone interview with Reuters ahead of the five-game one-day international series that starts on Wednesday.
“From speaking with one or two of the people involved with the team, they are very aware of certain areas of the game that need to be rectified.”
West Indies played the Tests against England without a specialist spinner, though all-rounder Roston Chase took eight wickets in the first Test, which West Indies won by 381 runs.
They followed up with a 10-wicket win in the second Test, though it could have been a far different story had Jason Holder not won the toss and sent England in on a green wicket.
West Indies openers John Campbell and Kraigg Brathwaite got the team off to decent starts with partnerships in excess of 50 in all but one innings, but the rest of the top order proved brittle and inconsistent.
Shai Hope was out cheaply three times in five innings and his back-to-back centuries at Leeds in 2017 are a distant memory, although Bishop said he was a “phenomenal talent”.
“During the (recent) series, and even last year, batting on seamer-friendly pitches, he is getting beaten on the outside of the bat and inside of the bat,” said Bishop, now a respected television commentator in the Caribbean.
“He has to decide how best he can position himself at the crease and allow the ball to come to him, because he is reaching for the ball. He will overcome it. He just needs reps. I think he’s an investment.”
Stylish left-hander Darren Bravo, back in the team after a two-year absence following a dispute with administrators, also failed in four of his five innings but with a batting average of more than 38, Bishop said he only needs time to “integrate himself” back into Test cricket.
Chase also had three failures, balanced by an unbeaten century in the final Test, while Shimron Hetmyer made 81 in the first Test but then fell away.
Hetmyer’s problems may stem from a heavy schedule, with the 22-year-old still due to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Bishop said his workload needed to be managed over the next year.
“Particularly for next six to eight months, his cricket must be managed,” Bishop said. “He’s an integral part of the Test match team, growing quickly as a batsmen.
“Problem is that for such a young kid he is good in all formats of the game. In order to keep fresh, he has to be managed. It could mean time off. If he were to play every game, that’s a lot of cricket.”
Bishop thinks West Indies could rise in the Test rankings, particularly with Holder at the helm, but the days of the team that dominated the 1970s and early 1980s are over.
“Jason Holder is very important to the team as a player and a leader,” Bishop said. “He has a leadership aura about him that I don’t know everyone sees.
“No team can go from number eight to number one or two in a year or two, but that is certainly the route that they should aim to travel.
“When I look at the batting of all the teams in world cricket, India and New Zealand are probably the two strongest batting units.
“All other teams are susceptible.”
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