WEST Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite said the batting unit will not place added pressure on themselves in the absence of experienced fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, saying everyone must pull their weight in the opening match of the Betway two-match Test series against South Africa.
West Indies, ranked sixth in Test cricket, will battle seventh ranked South Africa in the series bowling off at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St Lucia, from 10 am, on Thursday.
The West Indies bowling attack will be less experienced for the opening Test as Gabriel has “some tightness in his right hamstring.”
Gabriel’s injury may leave room for 19-year old Jayden Seales from TT to make his Test debut. The other fast bowling options include the experienced pair of Kemar Roach and Jason Holder. Alzarri Joseph is the other fast bowler in the squad.
Brathwaite spoke to journalists on Zoom on Wednesday.
Brathwaite, asked if the batting is putting more pressure on themselves to lead from the front, said, “I don’t think so. As a team both as batters and as bowlers we know what we have to do whether we play 100 games or two games and the guys are ready to go…we will go out there and give it 100 per cent.”
Brathwaite will lead a 13-man West Indies squad which sees the return of Roston Chase, Kieran Powell and Shai Hope. The trio will provide more batting options for head coach Phil Simmons.
Brathwaite said the team must continue on their upward trend.
“I think for us it is a continuation of the good things we started from January in Bangladesh. For me it is quite simple we just got to keep the same attitude we had and discipline and I think results will take care of itself once we do the small things right.”
West Indies have shown promise in Test cricket in 2021 with a 2-0 series win over Bangladesh, before returning to the Caribbean to draw 0-0 in a two-match series against Sri Lanka.
Brathwaite likes the energy around the camp ahead of the opening Test.
“I think the last three days said a lot about us as a team. I thought the guys put in a lot of effort at practice and as I said before preparation is the key. I think the guys are excited about the series. It will be a challenging one, but I could see the guys in their eyes they are ready to go.”
South Africa captain Dean Elgar said his team is not going into the match overconfident because West Indies is without Gabriel.
Also speaking to journalists on Zoom, Elgar said, “Ultimately you have to respect the players that the West Indies team brings into the squad. I have limited footage of the new player (Seales)…and a lot of it is T20 cricket, which is obviously recorded and sent to us that happened in the (2020) CPL.”
Elgar said Seales’s action reminds them of one of their own in Lungi Ngidi. South Africa’s bowling is a formidable one with Kagiso Rabada in the line up.
“We definitely don’t see this West Indies attack being less now without Shannon Gabriel. I still feel we need to respect our opposition. We need to obviously earn the right to try to score runs against them and we know it is a process that we need to follow in order to score runs,” Elgar said.
Elgar is counting on the young batsmen in his team to step up in the series.
He said “opportunities are there for guys now.”
Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Nrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales
Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Quinton de Kock, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Anrich Nortje, Keegan Peterson, Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lizaad Williams, Prenelan Subrayen, Marco Jansen