WEST INDIES interim head coach Andre Coley and Test team skipper Kraigg Brathwaite want to begin the 2023 season with series wins over Zimbabwe and South Africa in the coming
The team lands in Zimbabwe early next week ahead of a three-day warm-up match against a local side set for January 28-30 at Bulawayo Athletic Club.
West Indies will then play two Test matches against Zimbabwe at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, with the first Test running from February 4-8, and the second from February 12-16. Both matches start at 4am TT time.
The last Test series between Zimbabwe and the West Indies was also played at Queens Sports Club in October 2017. West Indies won the two-match series 1-0, winning the first contest by 117 runs with the second Test ending in a draw.
The squad then travel to South Africa for West Indies’ last two matches in the current ICC World Test Championship (WTC) cycle. The visitors are currently sixth on the WTC while South Africa are fourth. Both sides have the opportunity to improve their position in the final table.
Following the Test series, West Indies play South Africa in three One Day Internationals and three T20 Internationals.
Both Coley and Brathwaite want to hit the ground running for 2023.
“It would be great to start off with two series wins to give us the momentum throughout the year. The next Test series after South Africa is in the middle of the year against India so it’s important to make use of these four Test matches, each innings.
“Starting well is really important but it wouldn’t come just like that. Action speaks louder than words and we look forward to the team starting well,” said the skipper.
Coley added, “It’s a pretty packed year in all formats for us to go through. This upcoming series gives us a tremendous opportunity to regain some confidence following on from recent months.
“As we approach the India series, we’d be looking to build on that confidence we would gain over the next three months. The players are keen and want the opportunity to play.”
In July, West Indies play host to India for two Tests, three One-Day Internationals and three T20s. Batting consistently, Coley and Brathwaite said, remains a top priority as they head into a busy year of international cricket. Zimbabwe, although ranked tenth on the ICC Test team rankings, will be no walkover. West Indies are eighth.
“One thing which I think is very important for us is batting at least 110 overs. Going to Zimbabwe, at home, won’t be an easy team, it’s not a rollover. I really look forward to the batters spending time and getting runs on the board. That’s quite crucial for us to win it.
“It’s very important that we get back to hitting our straps and look to get 20 wickets. I think the complete game is what we look forward to. We got to show our worth. We need to see some fight from the batsmen, myself included.
“Bowling wise it’s all about discipline and getting 20 wickets in this Test match,” he said.
Coley, a former Jamaica wicketkeeper/batsman, was pleased to have a good relationship with the squad. He was appointed interim head coach by Cricket West Indies (CWI) on December 21 and will serve in this role until the end of the tour of southern Africa.
Coley has been in the West Indies setup for several years as head coach of the CWI Academy programme. He previously served as the assistant academy head coach and interim academy head coach when the Sagicor Academy was launched in 2010.
He was also head coach of the West Indies U19 team; assistant coach of the West Indies men’s and women’s teams, as well as head coach of Jamaica Scorpions and Windward Islands Volcanoes, who were the 2018 Super50 Cup champions.
“It’s always good when you’re working with a team to have good working relationships and understanding. And the experience over the recent years would have contributed to that. I would have had relationships with the different players across the squad. I’m looking to leverage and grow that and use it as a tool that we can utilise to assist with our planning.
“Just ensuring, especially in the short term, that we’re able to assemble everyone in Zimbabwe in a timely way so we can begin our preparation leading into the Test series and just ensuring that whatever supporting plans we have around analytics and data, that we are able to have that, share and discuss as a group to then come up with the more detailed plans to drive the focus of the tour.”