Rampaul eyes Test match return against Australia

Ravi Rampaul exults after dismissing M Vijay for a duck AFP

Ravi Rampaul, the West Indies fast bowler, has signalled his readiness to return for the Test series against Australia following his bout of dengue fever.

At 27, Rampaul has developed into one of the region's most reliable international bowlers but was unable to be considered for the West Indies pre-tour training squad or the ODI series due to illness - he also had to shrug off a shoulder problem.

However Rampaul has returned to playing club cricket in Trinidad and is hopeful of representing the island in their regional first-class tournament semi-final against Barbados, the better to prove his fitness for the Tests that begin on April 7.

"I am definitely anxious to get back," Rampaul told the Trinidad Express. "I have missed out on a lot and I just want to get back on the team and then cement my place for the Test series against Australia."

"Basically I have been doing my physiotherapy and a lot of training. I have been doing a lot of bowling for the past two weeks on my own in the nets and it has been coming along. This is my first real test here, playing this match [for PowerGen against Preysal]. Hopefully I can do well here and be ready for the Test series against Australia."

Having made his Test debut against Australia in Brisbane in 2009, Rampaul has since lodged a series of sturdy displays with the new ball against Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, bustling through the crease at good pace and also showing the ability to move the ball in the air and off the seam. He is capable of providing a useful pace counterpoint to the unbridled aggression of Kemar Roach, a probable starter in the Tests given the problems he caused Ricky Ponting in the 2009 matches.

"Australia is probably one of the hardest teams you can play against," Rampaul said. "I always like a challenge and I always want to do well against the bigger teams. It has been a tough couple of months for me but I know what I want and I know what my goal is, and I have been training hard and doing my therapy. My shoulder is feeling much better. I am feeling fit and ready."

Though they will lose a handful of key performers to the concurrent IPL, the West Indies team has shown plenty of promise in the ODI series, forcing a 2-2 tie under the increasingly astute leadership of Darren Sammy. The hosts' fielding has also caught the eye, and Rampaul's return will add to their bowling options.

"The team have been playing a lot of good cricket," Rampaul said. "They look good. They look fully focussed right now and they gel together pretty well, and I am anxious to get back. [Being on the sidelines for so long], it was a bit hard but it gave me a lot of time to review my past performances and try to figure out batsmen, so when I do start back, I will be ready."