Anderson absence spurs Windies
West Indies’ top order could do with a break as the tourists try to avoid a whitewash in the Investec Test series against England - and James Anderson’s absence from the final match may have given them one.
Certainly, that is the way opener Adrian Barath was looking at the situation today, as he assessed the likely consequence for him and his team-mates of England’s decision to omit their pace spearhead and current player of the year.
Barath has succumbed to Anderson just once so far in his four Test innings this summer, but remains in no doubt who is his most feared opponent with the new ball.
Asked if he is pleased at the prospect of facing someone else other than Anderson when the third Test gets under way at Edgbaston on Thursday, Barath said: “Yes, any opener would say the same.
“Throughout the series he didn’t really have the start he would want. He didn’t pick up the wickets he would have been thinking.”
Anderson will finish England’s first series of the summer with nine wickets - while Stuart Broad has 14 already.
“Anderson was probably unlucky. He was bowling the best deliveries, but just not hitting the edge,” Barath added.
“It was really a challenge facing him. He’s bowled well. He’s swinging the ball both ways.
“Broad took seven wickets (in the first innings at Lord’s), but Anderson looked like he was the one who would have taken seven wickets.
“He was swinging the ball all over the place. He is deservedly England’s cricketer of the year. There’s no doubt in that, facing him.”
In the bigger picture, Barath believes he and his team-mates have it in them to reduce the scoreline to 2-1.
“It’s important, having not had any wins in the series so far, that we finish well in this last Test," Barath said.
“There is a lot at stake. We’re really looking forward to getting a win here and bringing some pride to the West Indies.
“Sometimes we dominate the game for three days, but then we mess up in one session. That’s the mindset we’re on - when we get into those situations to really lock down.
“That is what Test cricket is all about. It’s not a couple of hours; it’s over the course of five days. You have to be on the money every day - every hour, every over.”
However the Windies fare in Birmingham - where mystery spinner Sunil Narine may have the opportunity to add to his Indian Premier League gains in his maiden Test - the impending arrival of former captain Chris Gayle should ensure they push England much closer in the limited-overs matches to come.
Destructive opener Gayle has been named in a 15-man squad for three one-day internationals and a Twenty20, having at last apparently settled his differences with the West Indies Cricket Board.
“He’s been in the set-up for years, and everyone has respect for Chris,” Barath said.
“It’s great to have him back, and he’ll lend experience to our players. We’ll be looking forward to having him in the set-up, and everyone will learn from him.”