'WI targeting top five in Tests' - Gibson
Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, wants his side to build on their success in 2012 by making it to the top five in the ICC Test rankings in 12 months' time. West Indies are currently at No.7, above New Zealand and bottom-placed Bangladesh, their opponents in the forthcoming two-Test tour starting November 13 in Mirpur.
West Indies lost the home series 2-0 against Australia before heading to England and conceding the Test series by the same margin. But they returned home and swept both Tests against a struggling New Zealand side, in addition to dominating the limited-overs matches. They carried forward their momentum to Sri Lanka where they lifted the World Twenty20 trophy.
"We have had a pretty solid 2012 so far so we want to finish on a winning note," Gibson said in Barbados before the team's departure for Bangladesh. "The aim is to find ways of moving up the (Test rankings) table. Because Bangladesh are below us, we will only be playing for two or three points. Our aim is to break into the top five in the next 12 months if possible."
West Indies suffered a setback when the fast bowler Kemar Roach suffered a knee injury during a club game in Barbados and had to pull out of the tour. He was replaced by Fidel Edwards. Gibson conceded that this was a blow, but was confident that Edwards, Ravi Rampaul and Tino Best would shoulder the responsibility well in foreign conditions.
Gibson said Roach's example was an eye opener for cricket boards to take steps to manage the workloads of certain players by ensuring they get enough rest as well as keep an eye on their fitness and conditioning.
"Last year during the regional tournament we took steps asking the regional boards to rest certain players who we felt needed a break. Roach's situation is unfortunate since he is on a very long break, since New Zealand," Gibson said. "He got hurt playing three weeks ago but didn't report it to anybody. In the past a lot of guys may have gone on tour with that injury, and if the injury happens in the first Test the team is a man short. We're trying to guard against that sort of stuff happening.
"You look at the amount of cricket these days, especially T20, a time will come when we need to tell a player or a regional board that this particular player needs a break. You put him in a strength and conditioning program. It's a realistic possibility that we could do stuff like that in the future."
Looking at West Indies' bowling attack, Gibson expected the spinner Sunil Narine to be a match-winner in Bangladesh, despite his inexperience in the longer formats. Narine has 12 wickets in three Tests with a five-wicket haul.
"Narine is a very fast learner. When he played his first Test it was on the back of very little first-class cricket and he had made his name in limited-overs cricket," Gibson said. "In alien conditions in England he didn't look very comfortable but when we returned to the Caribbean we saw the real Narine. Against New Zealand he started to bowl round the wicket so it shows that he is learning. We expect him to be a handful in Bangladesh and we believe he will be a match-winner in the long format as well."