Opportunity to see where we are as a team - Gibson
West Indies will begin their tour of India in November on the back of blanking their opposition in their last three Test series. But the achievement came against minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and prior to that a young New Zealand side in the process of a rebuild and coach Ottis Gibson views the two Tests against India could provide a measure of his team's current standing.
"This series against India gives us an opportunity to see where we are as a Test side," he said. "We've played some pretty good Test cricket, there's a lot that's been said about winning the last six [matches]. People have also spoken about the opposition [we faced] so the India tour gives us an opportunity to test ourselves against them. We are looking forward to that challenge and continue our winnings ways."
Though their last Test was in March, the players have had a busy calendar in limited-overs cricket, with the Champions Trophy, a tri-series featuring India and Sri Lanka, a limited-overs series against Pakistan, and the inaugural edition of the Caribbean Premier League. Gibson said he would have preferred some additional Test match practice ahead of the tour.
"We have a week in India, but ideally, I would have the guys in the indoor school hitting balls and play a couple of practice matches because we've been off, especially in Test cricket, for a very long time. We haven't had the physical preparation but there's a lot of mental stuff we can do to make sure we're ready for the two games in India," he said.
In lieu of that, the West Indies Cricket Board has arranged a team-building tour of Miami, which is targeted at building better unity within the side and helping them acclimatise to mental challenges, especially while on the road. After completing the India tour, West Indies will visit New Zealand for three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s, returning home in February 2014.
"We'll have some sessions with the sports psychologist," Gibson said. "We'll do things other than cricket as we bond and become a stronger unit. It's a long tour, starting with India and then straight on to New Zealand and we'll only be back next year. It's new and the guys are looking forward to it."
Gibson is aware of the significance of the India tour, which features Sachin Tendulkar's 200th Test following which he will retire from international cricket, but wants his side to concentrate on what they can do.
"We understand the importance of the two games, the significance of Sachin Tendulkar's 200th Test, but we have to be focussed on our job, which is to get there and give India a good fight and if after five days of fierce competition it happens that we are on top, then so be it."