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Simmons concerned over prep for Pakistan Test series


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Simmons concerned over prep for Pakistan Test series
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Kingston – West Indies head coach Phil Simmons expressed concern about the match fitness of the Test squad, four days ahead of their first Test of two against Pakistan in Jamaica.

Since the two-Test series against South Africa ended in late June, the majority of the Test players have been largely dormant, and last week’s four-day trial match at Sabina Park was the first taste of action for most of the provisional 17-member squad announced Monday.

“As far as I know, none of the [practice] games were played and there wasn’t enough work done before the players got here,” Simmons said during an online news conference on Monday.

“Quite a few players said they didn’t get any work done in their home territories before they came to this camp and four-day game.”

“It’s disappointing to know they’ve gone home and there’s nothing done. They have to come back and we’ve got to start from scratch when we get here, so it’s a little disappointing.”

Of the 17-member squad, only all-rounder Jason Holder and batsman Shai Hope featured during the recent white-ball series.

Holder turned out in both the shorter formats and Hope in the One-day International series against Australia.

During last week’s four-day match, Shamarh Brooks hit a hundred, and captain Kraigg Brathwaite, all-rounder Roston Chase and vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood stroked half-centuries.

Among the bowling group, off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul grabbed five-wicket hauls.

Simmons said, however, the performances were no more than he expected, especially since the demands of the international level were quite high.

“I wouldn’t say I am impressed,” he said in reference to the batting during the four-day contest. “I always looked for more guys at that level getting bigger scores and the 150s and bigger hundreds.

“You have to work to score 150 at the higher level, so I would like to see more runs being scored at that level.

“We want batsmen to be scoring 100, 150 runs on each occasion and [when] you have one out of your five, six batsmen getting a hundred then we’re doing the right things, and we’re getting the scores we need to give the bowlers a chance to bowl teams out.”

West Indies have had a mixed run this year in Tests, beating Bangladesh 2-0 away, drawing 0-0 with Sri Lanka at home before being crushed 2-0 by South Africa, when their batting suffered a complete meltdown in two Tests on lively surfaces in St Lucia.

Simmons said the challenge against Pakistan will be to turn around the fortunes of the batting group.

“It’s the start of a new series and we’re looking and trying to the best of our ability to try and make sure things improve,” he said.

“There’s no hiding from the fact that our batting needs to improve and get to a healthy stage where we can score 400 in an innings on a more consistent basis, and the bowlers continue doing the job they’ve been doing well.”

(CMC)