One of our strengths over the past 12 months or so has been our consistency of selection. We’ve been loyal to key players through thick and thin, and they’ve always repaid us.
We won’t tinker a heck of a lot with our side for tomorrow’s opening Test against the West Indies at Kingston’s Sabina Park but there’s certainly a couple of contestable selections.
There’s been three really tough calls - picking the openers, the all-rounder and the bowling mix (spin versus pace). Everyone contesting these spots is worthy of selection which is a pleasing aspect. It was an incredibly tough team to pick but I’m confident we picked the best side to suit the conditions in Kingston.
We don’t have a lot of recent form to go on having just come out of our winter. It’s more what we know these guys can do in certain situations. There’s a lot of history in our decisions but also an awareness of who has and who can adapt best to the conditions.
One thing we know for sure is that these next three Tests are going to be a lot different to our summer at home. We’re not going to blast sides out – it’s just not what these conditions will allow. It’s more a war of attrition with perseverance and patience the two key factors.
The West Indies have two very good spinners and we’re well aware of our challenges playing spin away from home. We showed improvements against spin in Bangladesh last year getting over 400 in both our first innings, and we’ll need to do something similar here.
Their quicks are tall and generally rely on bounce and seam movement. They do swing the new ball but they’re more about pace as they showed in the Test series here in 2012 when Tino Best was in good form.
We got our first glimpse of the Sabina Park pitch yesterday and it was nice to see some grass on it after not having seen any for a while. Even the net wickets were more realistic than the plasticine we had to play on in Trelawny.
The boys who were here in 2012 say there’s more grass on the pitch than for that match so it looks like there’ll be some pace and bounce at the start of the match anyway. But history suggests it’ll soon die away.
Tomorrow will be Chris Gayle’s 100th Test and a fitting occasion to reach that milestone at his home ground. It’ll be a great atmosphere but a hostile environment for our guys. We’ll be put under pressure in those first few hours. It’s simply about trusting what we do.