Former West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts has questioned the fitness of the current pace attack on the eve of the first Test against England at Edgbaston.

Roberts was speaking in Birmingham at Wicketz, a children's clinic hosted by the Lord's Taverners, ahead of the day-night Test alongside fellow West Indies greats Viv Richards, Curtly Ambrose and Richie Richardson. While all four former players acknowledged there were significant weaknesses in the side, Roberts handed out the harshest assessment of bowlers.

"To be honest I don't know what is the strength of West Indies cricket today because we don't bat too well and at times it depends on the fitness of the fast bowlers," Roberts told ESPNcricinfo. "It seems as though some of them are prone to breaking down.

"I'm hoping that they are all at full strength and that they'll all be able to last the full five days. If they do they may have a chance but you see it's very difficult if you do go in with four bowlers and you have problems with one because the overall team is not as strong as I would like to see."

Roberts was critical of the amount of time players spend in the gym and suggested they should spend more time in the nets. But he singled out 20-year-old Alzarri Joseph as the bowler who could thrive in English conditions.

"He's young, I think he's probably the fittest of the lot in terms of not breaking down and he also swings the ball a bit which is not common," Roberts said. "Jason Holder, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel are more seamers. They seem to hit the deck a lot harder and try to get legcutters and offcutters whereas Alzarri Joseph, especially early in the innings, will try to swing the ball and that's very important here in England. So I won't be surprised early on, if he takes the new ball, if he takes one or two early wickets."

In contrast, former West Indies bowling coach Ambrose felt the current crop of bowlers were holding their own in Tests, but he called on the batsmen to push harder for competitive - and defendable - totals.

"I'm not saying they don't have batsmen who can score runs, they do," Ambrose said. "But you can't keep scoring 180, 200, 220 in Test cricket and expect to win too many games."

One of the batsman who has impressed Richardson, the former team manager, is Shai Hope. Although Hope averages just 19.57 in ten Tests to date, Richardson believes his temperament marks him out as a batsman who can develop into a mature player.

"His attitude towards batting, towards the game, he's always willing to learn," Richardson said. "He listens and you can see he would make changes to his game.

"If he got out a particular way he would go into the nets and try to work on his weaknesses and I like that about him. He's always willing to learn and always asking questions, he's got a desire to work hard and to achieve great things."

Richards, perhaps typically, called on the West Indies batsmen to show no fear and, while acknowledging England are heavy favourites going into the series, believed the pink ball could be something of a leveler in the opening match.

"England is one of the best places for you to play the game itself and one's got to look at it that way," Richards said. "All the players from the West Indies who have toured this part of the world would have gone back from England being a much better player. I'm hoping the guys do understand that, the batters themselves understand that.

"There are no demons playing in this country. If you can play and you back yourself enough, you're going to have success and that's what it's all about. Knowing your requirements, knowing your limits, the things you can get done and the things that you cannot get done.

"Don't worry about them talking about the seam and the swing and all that sort of stuff, it can be countered. If you're good enough."

Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo