We’ve now had a couple of days to absorb how special our performance was in the first Test at Sabina Park. The win was great, but the performance was as good as it gets right from day one.
As a coaching group, we worry more about the performance and what we can control rather than solely focusing on the outcome. It was a very special time in the changing room afterwards. A number of our guys have been here several times before without tasting Test match success.
I was very proud of the way two of our young players – Tom Latham and Jimmy Neesham – stood up at key moments and made major contributions towards winning the Test.
But for me one individual performance stood out. Tim Southee’s spell on day three against Chris Gayle was world class. To bowl that well against a player of Gayle’s quality and on a pretty unresponsive surface, really set the tone for our bowing group.
And I was obviously delighted for Mark Craig. He was as shocked as anyone when he was selected for the tour but we saw something in him that could be successful at the next level. For Mark to be as composed as he was from ball one was a real testament to his character and he deserved all the accolades that came his way.
I look back at some of the work we did pre-tour and how we’re now reaping the rewards of that hard graft. The strength and conditioning work under Chris Donaldson, Anthony Sharp and our Major Association trainers has given the players a level of fitness that has allowed us to sustain intensity in these hot conditions.
I also think we made the best of our time in Montego Bay. Even though the conditions there were extreme in terms of the amount of bounce and turn, when we got to Kingston we were very well prepared.
As we head into the second Test tomorrow, it’s pleasing to see that despite the jubilation in Kingston we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We’re a very calm group that is task-focused rather than outcome-focused. We just deal with the next session and that’s our key to being consistent.
Yesterday we had our first look at the Queen’s Park Oval pitch in Port of Spain and the best way for me to describe it would be scrappy. There’s a bit of grass in the middle and some very bare ends. The weather seems more humid here than Jamaica with some rain around.
The wealth of good performances in Kingston has given the captain and myself a few selection headaches. It’s certainly a nice problem to have, but the real challenge is picking an XI that best suits whatever the pitch might bring throughout the Test.