West Indies v Zimbabwe, 1st Test, Barbados March 11, 2013

West Indies seek to extend rare winning run


Match facts

March 12-16, Bridgetown
Start time 1000 (1400 GMT)

Big Picture

The last time West Indies won five Tests in a row was back in the late 80s, when they were still the reigning kings of world cricket. Viv Richards was the captain, leading a side strewn with legends to comprehensive series victories in England and Australia. West Indies have fallen so far from those peaks that in the seven years Prior to the start of their home season last year, they had been victorious in only five Tests.

Through a quirk of scheduling that pitted them against some relatively lightweight opposition, West Indies are currently on a four-Test winning streak, with two matches against the Test irregulars Zimbabwe coming up.

The Kensington Oval was a fortress for West Indies for much of the 20th century but, although the record has dimmed in recent years, Darren Sammy's experienced side will be confident of extending their successful stretch to six games.

While the home side chase some impressive numbers, for Zimbabwe the chance to play Test cricket is a rarity. They haven't played a five-day game since they were trounced in Napier by an innings-and-301-runs by New Zealand more than a year ago. This will only be their fifth Test since ending their six-year exile from the longest version of the game in 2011.

Besides the crippling shortage of experience, they will be up against unfamiliar conditions as well, in what will be their first Test in the Caribbean since 2000. Additionally, they are without the assuring presence of two Zimbabwe stalwarts from the coaching set-up, Grant Flower and Heath Streak, and there is further uncertainty on the horizon as this head coach Alan Butcher's last series in charge before his contract expires.

Form guide

West Indies: WWWWD (Completed matches, most recent first)
Zimbabwe: LLLW

Players to watch

In his second coming, Marlon Samuels has quickly became West Indies' most influential batsman across formats. He was missing in the limited-overs leg of the series as he completed his recovery from the eye injury he suffered in the Big Bash. His first match since early January was the tour game against the Zimbabweans last week and he hit his stride with a brisk 55. He's in a rich vein of form in Tests, having scored six half-centuries and three hundreds in his past nine matches.

Brendan Taylor is among Zimbabwe's most important batsmen, but he hasn't quite managed to find his form in this series so far. A string of single-digit scores in the limited-overs matches meant he hasn't been able to carry the touch that made him one of the standout players in the Bangladesh Premier League last month.

Team news

The West Indies batting is slowly beginning to acquire a settled look, with three senior batsmen in the top five and two promising youngsters in Kieran Powell and Darren Bravo as the other two specialists. One of their decisions to be made will be whether to play two specialist spinners, or to go in with one slow bowler and the part-time offerings of Narsingh Deonarine as back-up.

West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Veerasammy Permaul, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Shane Shillingford, 11 Tino Best

Zimbabwe (squad) 1 Brendan Taylor (capt), 2 Tino Mawoyo, 3 Vusi Sibanda, 4 Hamilton Masakadza, 5 Regis Chakabva, 6 Malcolm Waller, 7 Kyle Jarvis, 8 Keegan Meth, 9 Tendai Chatara, 10 Chris Mpofu, 11 Prosper Utseya, 12 Sean Williams, 13 Timycen Maruma, 14 Raymond Price, 15 Graeme Cremer

Stats and trivia

  • West Indies didn't lose a single Test at the Kensington Oval between 1935 and 1994.
  • There have only been six Tests so far between the two sides, with West Indies winning four and the other two being drawn.
  • Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Heath Streak are the only three players to have played in all six Tests between the two sides.
  • With 23 wickets, Ray Price is the most successful bowler in Tests between West Indies and Zimbabwe.


"Having Marlon back is great news for us. The injury was unfortunate but he has been a big player for us in the last 12 months or so."
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson on Samuels' return

"Hoping we'll bat better than we did in the one-day series, we need to get more runs to stay competitive."
Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mar2000 on March 13, 2013, 2:37 GMT

    Cricket at the "MECCA" in Barbados where one expect a hard and bouncy track that will be good for fast bowling and stroke play . Instead , on the first day the wicket keeper collecting balls down by his ankles .It is high time that we get a set of Groundsmen that can do things of old that will give a good contest . WI play 3 quicks and have no help on the first day from the pitch .

  • creekeetman on March 12, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    both sammy and best are not, never were, and never will be test cricketers... plain and simple.

  • dummy4fb on March 12, 2013, 14:51 GMT


    Do agree with you that Sammi doesn't deserve to be in the team on the basis of performance shown by him in the International cricket. But you should consider the achievement done by WI teams under his captaincy. 2 years back, WI teams was in worse situation and was performing worsen then the Bangladesh or for instance New Zealanders. Team leading itself is a skill, I am sure once the WI team will be stable he will start concentrating on personal performances.

    Its team building process which is in progress :).

  • dummy4fb on March 12, 2013, 13:19 GMT

    well captains need to win matches and that is all that matters and not their individual performance

  • dummy4fb on March 12, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Tino Best might be number 8 not 11 he has a nearly got a test hundred after all

  • dummy4fb on March 12, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    Well another Test comes our way! I have my doubts about the full complexion of the team but I am a West Indian at heart and will support "my boys" even though I deeply think the selectors again made a fatal mistake to keep Pollard out .. again! I see no room for Shillingford. He is not as effective as Narine even though Narine did not get lots of wickets in his last few maiden tests. He is recognised by the word and ICC as the number one in 20T and the batsmen around the world have an innate fear of his bowling. I do not think Shillingford has that respect. Also if they had been watching Narine they would also know that he is increasing his stature as a good reliable batsmen. He can hit the ball! On Sammy: Let Sammy be Sammy for the Cricketing public. He may not always be scoring runs or taking wickets but he is a positive influence on the team and is optismism goes a long way than just scoring runs etc. He is also a very good role model for the younger guys and aspiring cricketers!

  • dummy4fb on March 12, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    I put Ramdin at 6 because if these guys are going to play they must contribute not hide behind someone esl, this is where Sammy's place in the team become a problem because he is preventing the extra batsmen from playing and if you name the extra batsmen you loses a bowler. As I said before I have nothing against Sammy he did well to bring back the team from where it was to what it is now, but the time have come to move forward, I don't support playing a bowler short you need twenty wickets to win a game and Barbados is not the place for two spinners either three front line pace bowler is the way to go.

  • fah4 on March 12, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Will love to see a century from Chris Gayle.Simply love his batting.

    Best of luck to both the teams...

  • SNIFFLEATHER on March 12, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Roach, Best and Gabriel must all play. If the opposition had a stronger attack, I would even leave out both Shillingford and Permaul, and play Deonarine to strengthen the batting. He is an underrated bowler. However, the opposition is Zimbabwe, and with all due respect West Indies are not likely to require the extra runs at no.6 from Deonarine, so I would select the following team...

    1.Gayle, 2.Powell, 3.Bravo, 4.Samuels, 5.Chanderpaul, 6.Ramdin(w), 7.Sammy(c), 8.Permaul, 9.Best, 10.Roach, 11.Gabriel

    Note: still no Delorn Johnson...?

  • SkylaDark on March 12, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Come on, Zimbabwe. Show that even "minnows" can win. Best of luck.