Dyson confident despite poor preparation
The West Indies coach John Dyson remains confident that his side will prove to be a challenge for England in the first Test at Lord's on Wednesday, despite a string of poor warm-up matches and the unavailability of key players.
West Indies have underperformed in the three warm-up matches, failing to reach 250 in three of four innings, and they were trounced by England Lions who bowled them out for 179 in their second innings at Derby. To compound West Indies' problems, they have been without key players: Fidel Edwards only arrived in the country today after his Indian Premier League stint, while their captain, Chris Gayle, has been given permission to extend his stay in South Africa to play for Kolkata Knight Riders.
Dyson, though, is certain West Indies "can perform at Lord's" on Wednesday and insisted that despite all the problems, England should be on their guard.
"We're a surprising lot and we bounce back from things," he told PA. "I just think back to the Caribbean a couple of months ago when everyone scored hundreds for England in the practice game before the first Test at St Kitts and got bowled out for 51 in the first Test.
"If you look at the guys who you would think would make the Test line-up, Shiv [Chanderpaul] has had a couple of good knocks, Lendl Simmons has had a couple of good knocks, [Brendan] Nash has done all right and Sarwan has had a couple of promising starts. It's a bit of a worry that Devon Smith or Dale Richards haven't had a start at the top of the order with the new ball so that's a bit of a concern, but there is still time before the first Test."
There is precious little time, however: Gayle will only have 48 hours to acclimatise to England's early summer, but Dyson was not unduly concerned.
"I've said all along with the IPL in conjunction with this tour, even if he was arriving as we expected that's not ideal," he said. "Chris handles a lot of pressure and has played some magnificent cricket over the past 12 months in all forms of the game and he seems to take these sort of things in his stride.
"But the medical advice is that when you fly that sort of distance you need time to recover from the flight and re-acclimatise to the time zones. I also think you need a good couple of hits at least in the conditions you're going to play in."
Rob Key, who captained England Lions in their ten-wicket hammering of the tourists, was similarly unconcerned about their warm-up to the tour. "Sometimes when you get beaten, it helps get rid of any complacency you might have had and makes you work that little bit harder.
"The England team in these conditions should be the better side, but you never want to under-estimate the West Indies. Jerome Taylor is a decent new ball bowler and when Chris Gayle comes back that's going to be a big boost for these guys. It's good that the 'A' side has been able to beat them, but I don't think it will mean a lot once they get to Lord's."