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March 3, 2014
#politeenquiries: Was the North Sound pitch bad for cricket?
Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, has warned England they will face a far tougher proposition when Chris Gayle returns to the side.
Gayle, who has been unavailable for the ODI series in Antigua due to a back injury, is due to return to the nets in Barbados over the next couple of days with a view to playing in the T20 series on the island that starts on Sunday.
West Indies' top-order have struggled in both the first two games. Wrong-footed by England's tactic of using their spinners in the opening overs - England utilised four spinners within the first 12 overs in the second ODI - West Indies slipped to 45-5 in the first match and 30-3 in the second.
While Gibson accepted that his side's top-order batting had been "pretty average", he believes there is nothing to fear in England's spin attack and that Gayle's return will force England to reconsider their approach of utilising spin bowling in the open overs.
"Chris will be back," Gibson said. "That will make a huge difference to our approach and how other teams approach us. Chris facing this spin might be a little bit different. He will be in Barbados in the next couple of days getting ready for the T20. All the reports suggest he should be ready.
"There's been some pretty average batting over the course of the two games. We got out of jail in the first game with Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo putting on 100 in 7 overs at the end, but that's not going to happen every day. We need to play better at the top of the order.
"We played the spin quite well at the World T20 in Sri Lanka two years ago and we know we can play it better than this. We just have to go out and do it.
"We've got Saqlain Mushtaq in our coaching team and our guys face him in the nets. And if you can play Saqlain, you should be able to handle Joe Root a little bit better. James Tredwell is the main spinner and he hasn't had a lot of wickets. He's bowled tight but he's not spun us out. To be losing wickets at the top of the order to Root and Moeen Ali, well, that hurts a little bit.
"On the first day, we never expected Root to open the bowling and bowl tight the way he did. So we had a good meeting and discussed it. But to come back and the same thing to happen again in the second game is disappointing for sure."
While Gibson accepted that this ODI series pitted two "tentative" teams against one another, he did celebrate the participation of Sunil Narine.
Narine has proved close to unplayable at times in the first two ODIs on the spin-friendly surface in Antigua, conceding just 61 runs in 20 overs so far and leading Gibson to hail him "the No. 1 spinner in the world."
"Every team we've played against in these conditions has struggled to pick him and score off him," Gibson said. "He's the No.1 spinner in the world and we're happy to have him in our team for sure.
"But these are just two teams seeking desperately to play some good cricket. Everybody looks very tentative. Our batsmen look tentative against their spinners up front and their batsmen look tentative also. That's what happens when you have two pretty fragile teams playing against one another."
Gibson also expressed his confusion over the dismissal of Dwayne Bravo in the second ODI. West Indies' captain was adjudged to be out stumped by a fumbling Jos Buttler despite inconclusive evidence that the ball hit the stumps or was in the keeper's hands when the bails were removed.
"I'm still confused," Gibson said. "I never saw anything that said the ball hit the stumps. But we're not allowed to discuss those things.
"The captain was in, and was getting a good score and got 80 odd in the first game. It was a turning point in the match.
"There was nothing conclusive for us upstairs. I'm sure they know why they gave it out, but it changed the game from our point of view."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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