FORMER West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray believes that grit and determination from West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite and uncapped opening batsman Tagenarine Chanderpaul can frustrate the Australian fast bowlers, which will help the tourists be competitive in a two-Test series in which they are heavy underdogs.
The first match bowls off at 10.20 pm TT time on Tuesday.
Chanderpaul, the son of West Indies legend Shivnarine Chanderpaul, is set to make his debut Down Under after knocking on the door for years.
Chanderpaul and Brathwaite are now renowned for their strokeplay, but show immense powers of concentration to occupy the crease for long periods.
The wickets at Perth are expected to be bouncy and quick, and Gray said the West Indies opening pair must avoid early wickets.
“I think it depends on Chanderpaul and Brathwaite’s partnership. I think if we could negate the Australians from getting wickets early on it will frustrate them because the world is expecting the Australians to annihilate us on those surfaces.”
Chanderpaul, 26, has displayed his ability at First Class level. In 51 matches, he has scored 2,844 runs at an average of 35.55 with six centuries and 11 half-centuries.
The left-hander has been a patient batter since making his First Class debut in 2013, but over the past year he has shown ability to score more quickly. At times, Chanderpaul would have a pedestrian strike rate of less than 30. Brathwaite, who has played more aggressively in recent years, has a career strike rate of 40.12 in 79 Test matches.
Gray encouraged Chanderpaul and Brathwaite to continue being patient at the crease. “The tactical part of the game is important,” Gray said. “If Brathwaite and Chanderpaul’s temperament (stay consistent, we can be successful). The strength they have to bat for long and bat time, (if they) can produce those goods as a partnership then the Australians will bowl more aggressively and more direct type of deliveries and they will bowl some boundary balls…
“It is fundamentally important that both Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Brathwaite give us a good start to be competitive.”
Gray said the West Indies openers should utilise the pace of the wickets in Australia. “You have to play in your comfort zone. You can’t make too many extreme changes…both of them are very good with temperament and both of them are gap batsmen, meaning they put the ball in the gaps and they would be able to use the pace of the ball well.”
Gray is glad that Chanderpaul said he is not trying to fill the big shoes of his father, but simply trying to be the best player possible.
In a practice match against a Prime Minister’s XI ahead of the opening Test match, Chanderpaul was the West Indies most prolific batsman.
He scored 119 off 293 balls in the first innings with 13 fours and one six, ending with a strike rate of 40.61. In the second innings he struck 56 off 138 deliveries with a strike rate of 40.57.
West Indies will have many fast bowlers at their disposal in Australia including Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Jayden Seales and Anderson Phillip.
Gray believes the Windies pacers are equipped with the skills to deliver and make use of the conditions.
“I think that our bowlers have the ability and the variety in our attack to negate Australia’s ability to get big scores.”
Gray said Roach has an excellent record against left-handed batters and Joseph is an improved bowler who is bowling fast. Holder is not the fastest, Gray said, but he has the skills to be a handful at Perth.
Gray said he would have liked to see Shamarh Brooks and Jermaine Blackwood play in the final warm-up match as the opposition was ideal preparation for the first Test.