Jamaica Gleaner / BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (CMC):
Head coach Stuart Law is envisioning a trial by spin when West Indies clash in the opening Test against Zimbabwe, starting here today.
“This is a Test venue. The wicket here is traditionally very good for batting and spins more and more as the game goes on, so to me that’s a pretty decent Test pitch,” the Australian said of the conditions at Queens Sports Club venue.
He added: “I think if you look at the team that Zimbabwe have picked, they have six players who can bowl spin, so the characteristics of this ground are such that it will favour spin bowling more so than medium-pace bowling.”
The 16-man Zimbabwe squad comprises the likes of leg-spinner Graeme Cremer, left-arm spinners Sean Williams and Tendai Chisoro, along with Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza who can both bowl off-breaks.
And with West Indies having shown a weakness to slow bowling in the recent past, Zimbabwe will be hoping to use the conditions to their favour.
However, Law said that the Windies boasted a balanced attack, with fast bowlers who could pose problems on any surface.
“We’ve got two or three guys who can crank it up to over 90 miles per hour and that pace doesn’t really matter where you play, it’s hard work to bat against them,” Law pointed out.
“We’ve got a fairly well-balanced side in attack. We’ve got a couple of batsmen who can bowl as well and they can always give the big quicks a break as well.”
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo is the Windies’ only specialist spinner but part-time off-spinners Roston Chase and Kraigg Brathwaite both of whom boast five-wicket hauls in Tests – will be expected to play key roles.
Law said that the team selection would be based on the conditions at Queens Sports Club.
“We will be focusing on the dryness of the conditions, the dryness of the pitch maybe spin will play a huge part but also reverse swing.”
West Indies will bank on their knowledge of conditions at the venue, after playing three matches there last November in the Tri-Nations Series involving Sri Lanka and the hosts.
While they failed to get a win, losing two and tying one of those encounters, Shai Hope managed a hundred while Brathwaite carved out a half-century.
Captain and seamer Jason Holder and Bishoo were also among the wickets but Law cautioned that the Test arena could prove a different challenge.
“It is different in the sense that it was a one-day tournament, but I think they understand that the first couple of games they played the wickets were very good, and as the tournament wore on, the pitches got harder and harder to bat on as they spun more,” he explained.