Gibson expects from new boys
West Indies may have been forced to travel to England without a host of their best players, but coach Ottis Gibson is hoping their absence will encourage others to prove their international pedigree.
The travelling party for the two NatWest International T20s at the Kia Oval, which take place on Friday and Sunday, includes several little-known players and only four recent regulars in captain Darren Sammy, Devendra Bishoo, Andre Russell and Fidel Edwards.
Among those missing from the squad are Darren and Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Adrian Barath, Kieron Pollard and Ravi Rampaul, who are instead at the Champions League in India.
Also absent are Chris Gayle and Sulieman Benn, who remain in dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board.
Despite their absence, Gibson, who previously worked as England’s fast bowling coach, is hopeful the likes of Miles Bascombe, Johnson Charles, Nkruma Bonner and Derwin Christian can prove capable stand-ins.
“As a coach you want your best players on the field all of the time, but when they aren’t available for one reason or another then the next thing is to build a team,” Gibson said.
“We have a lot of exciting youngsters that we can build around. We have Bishoo, who’s just been named ICC emerging cricketer of the year, and Andre Russell, who people will have seen in the World Cup.
“But we also have young guys who are champing at the bit to come in and put in impressive performances for the West Indies.
“I expect us to be competitive. There are quite a few guys getting their first opportunity to play for the West Indies and when you get your first chance you expect guys to put in a performance.
“It is an chance for these guys to pit themselves against the world champions, even though England are without a few guys too.”
Gibson remains close to England team director Andy Flower from his time with the ECB and has been impressed, if unsurprised, with the way he has taken the team to the top of the Test game.
“We had a very good working relationship when I was with England and that has continued since we went our separate ways,” said Gibson.
“We still speak quite a lot on the phone. Andy has done fantastically well and I’m not surprised that he has. He is very strong willed, very organised and very prepared.
“He has a group of guys who believe his philosophy and share it. Andy is the sort of guy who, if a batsman wanted throw-downs at midnight, he would get out of bed and throw to him.
“The difficult thing now is to maintain it. The challenge for every other team is to knock them off.”