The start of a new season for West Indies cricket April 28, 2006

West Indies players ready for on-field action

Philip Spooner

Ian Bradshaw: looking forward to a new season under Brian Lara © The Nation

The members of the West Indies team are happy to get back on the field and play ball. Yesterday, two of them expressed excitement about the upcoming series against Zimbabwe and said they were delighted that all obstacles had been cleared ahead of the seven-match one-day series starting on Saturday.

Ian Bradshaw, the allrounder, said that although the dispute between the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players' Association had an impact, they were raring to go under new captain Brian Lara.

Fidel Edwards, their fast bowler, said he was ready to lead the attack against Zimbabwe and India later this season, while Dwayne Smith and Corey Collymore flashed smiles as they boarded the afternoon flight to St John's. All called for the support from the region's people as the team intensifies its preparations for the 2007 World Cup.

"It's time to play cricket," said Bradshaw. "That's what we're here for. We have had our challenges in the past and this is another challenge. I'm excited about the possibilities. I have played with Brian as captain before so this is nothing new. He's a good leader and has the respect of all his peers. I am happy the situation has been resolved and I hope we can see all positives from here on for West Indies cricket. The greatest positive would be for us to start with wins in both matches this weekend.

"I never lost focus despite all that was going on around. This is a big series against Zimbabwe and it must be treated as such. They might not be regarded as a top side, but we have to ensure we do not take them lightly, and we have to use this series to gain momentum for upcoming events."

After Zimbabwe, West Indies will face India in four Tests and five ODIs. Later in the year they will tour Pakistan and will also visit India to defend the Champions Trophy they won in 2004.

This weekend, Edwards will be making a return to the game after a month of rest. In June 2003, Lara plucked him from oblivion to play against Sri Lanka, and he has emerged as one of the fastest bowlers on the international stage.

"I'm back and I'm feeling mighty fine," the 24-year-old said. "I have all confidence that we will do well under the leadership of Brian. The players have faith in him and he always puts faith in the players. It would be great for him if we can return to the top and go on to win the World Cup a year from now.

"I'm fully fit and I am ready to go. It's time for battle and first up is Zimbabwe, then India."