Phil Simmons: West Indies' batters have to work out how to get big scores

The home side's bowling continued to impress but they rarely had runs to play with

Nkrumah Bonner and Jermaine Blackwood were solid briefly in the first session, West Indies vs Pakistan, 2nd Test, 4th day, Kingston, August 23, 2021

The returns of West Indies' top order continue to be under the spotlight  •  Getty Images

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has put the onus back on the team's batting to be better at assessing conditions after they again struggled to build substantial scores against Pakistan, although he insisted there are signs of improvement.
"We see that we can bat," Simmons told the host broadcaster. "We are spending 110 balls for 50 runs but it's how we read the situation of the game. We might be batting well, like we saw in the first innings then the ball started swinging a little bit more. We've got to assess those situations in order for us to get the big scores. We've seen a more controlled approach to the start of everyone's innings, but we have to work out how we go from the 40s and 50s to the 100s and 150s.
"The Caribbean has to continue backing us. From a point of view that we are seeing improvement in the fact that guys are trying to do the things that are necessary for us to be a better Test batting team. The bowling has been exceptional - it carries its weight and pulls the team - but the batters have to sit down and work out how to get to the scores we want to get. We need the backing, the batsmen need the encouragement. We don't see what's happening in the background, but they are working hard."
The series was shared 1-1 after the visitors secured a 109-run victory on the final day at Sabina Park after West Indies had clung on for a one-wicket in in the opening match.
Overall in the four recent Tests against Pakistan and South Africa, West Indies' highest innings total has been 253 across eight attempts, with just five half-centuries and no hundreds from their batters. None of the batters averaged 30, with Jermaine Blackwood's return of 223 runs at 27.87 the best although they had been more successful against Sri Lanka earlier in the year.
When pressed on whether there were other batters who could come into consideration who are currently part of West Indies' limited-overs side, Simmons said that it would not serve anyone's benefit to force players into the Test format.
"The first thing is a want to play Test cricket. We can say what we want, [but] Test cricket is not easy," he added. "The first day of this match was unbelievable with the heat so you have to want [it], you have to have that desire, that conviction to play Test cricket.
"Maybe be out there for a day-and-a-half and then come and bat. It's for guys to want to play, we know the ones who are capable. But if you don't have that want, you can't do it. [It] makes no sense us selecting you and forcing you to play Test cricket and then you are just out there. West Indies always have talented players. Learning to play Test cricket can be easy, but you have to want to put in the work. You [see the] Babar Azams and Kane Williamsons, they put in a lot of extra work. So we keep pushing guys to do that."
The lack of first-class cricket due to the pandemic has not helped the preparation for Tests either, but once a full domestic schedule is able to resume, Simmons hoped there would be a focus on the pitches.
"We've got to make sure our first-class cricket comes back as we settle down in the pandemic and guys are playing more," he said. "We have to make our grounds better in terms of our pitches so our guys are able to bat and improve [and] bat longer. There's quite a few things we can do to push ourselves to the next level."