Gibson happy with West Indies' 'settled' batting
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson is pleased to have the team's batting strengthened by the return of Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle, as they bid to extend their winning run in Test cricket. West Indies will take on Zimbabwe in the first of two Tests in Barbados from Tuesday, and if they win the match they would have won five Tests in a row for the first time since 1988-89.
"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, the main batsman in all formats," Gibson said. "Chris is a quality player, we have no doubt he will perform for us. He has done it many times before and we know he will be confident going into this series."
Samuels is returning to competitive cricket for the first time in two months, after suffering a facial injury in Australia's Big Bash League, while Gayle had asked for a break during the limited-overs leg of the Zimbabwe series.
Talking about the make-up of the squad, Gibson pointed out that since the batting line-up is a "settled" one, there is no place for veteran batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan at the moment despite the form he showed in the second ODI against Zimbabwe. He is being given time to prove - through his domestic form - that he deserves a spot in the Test line-up, Gibson said. "If you look at the batting at the moment, the line up seems to be settled. We played five batsmen in Bangladesh and made a lot of runs. It's hard to fit him in but at the same time we know his quality.
"At the moment, for him, it's just about getting back and getting confident, and once he gets used to getting runs again in regional cricket … I would like to think that once there is a spot available, he would find himself in that spot."
Sarwan made a comeback for West Indies in February, on the limited-overs tour of Australia, after 18 months away due to issues with the team management.
Offspinner Sunil Narine - who had poor returns on West Indies' previous Test assignment, with three wickets in two matches against Bangladesh at 114.33 - was rested rather than dropped from the Test squad, according to Gibson. Narine still had a part to play across formats, he said. "I think he [Narine] was [considered for selection]. The selectors, from my understanding, thought that since he has come into international cricket, he has played every format and they wanted to give him a break more from the intensity of cricket, to let him get back and start to enjoy his cricket a little bit more.
"He is playing for Trinidad and obviously enjoying it, getting wickets and stuff like that. He is young to international cricket and I'm sure he is somebody that has a huge part to play for us in all formats."
Captain Darren Sammy said he was confident his team had the "upper hand" going into this Test series. "We're ready, our preparations have been spot on," he said. "We have been very professional and disciplined in all we have done so far.
"The guys are coming in from playing [domestic] four-day cricket so everyone should be settled and ready to take on the Zimbabweans. Kemar [Roach] and Marlon [Samuels] did not play in the last round of the Regional Four-Day tournament, but they played for the Sagicor High Performance Centre over the weekend [in Zimbabwe's warm-up game] so they got in their preparation as well."