At face value Australia’s three-Test series against the West Indies doesn’t promise much excitement.
It will be nice to see the Aussie batsmen fill their boots against a Windies attack that lacks a genuine star, but, for fans of a contest, the series may not yield much entertainment value.
The current incarnation of the Windies has fallen far from their once-lofty perch.
In the ICC’s Test rankings, they sit eighth – ahead of only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
They were put to the sword by a second-string Cricket Australia XI at Allan Border Field in Brisbane, and things will be even tougher when they line-up in the first Test in Hobart starting Thursday.
The West Indies Cricket Board is in disarray, meaning they can’t pay big names like Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo what they command in T20 land.
Therefore, that trio will be smashing sixes in the Big Bash League while their compatriots are under the pump.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and the West Indies are beginning to unearth some youthful talent who won’t be intimidated.
We’ve run the rule over the entire squad.
Jason Holder (c) – all-rounder (RHB, RMF)
445 runs at 29.66, high score 103*
19 wickets at 33.31, best bowling 3-15
Holder made his ODI debut in early 2013, and just two years later he is leading the charge. He was originally picked as a bowler, but has developed into an all-rounder who can make some annoying runs at number eight. The English know this all too well, with his unbeaten century denying them victory in their series this year.
Kraigg Brathwaite (vc) – batsman (RHB, OB)
1457 runs at 33.11, high score 212
7 wickets at 23.71, best bowling 6-29
Brathwaite has been in the Test side since 2009, but he is still only 23. He already has four Test centuries to his name, and his bat is covered in red. He would be considered the polar opposite in style of the man he is replacing, Chris Gayle, but he should not be underestimated. He shocked the Sri Lankans with his off-spin in the second Test at Colombo, taking 6-29.
Devendra Bishoo – bowler (LHB, LB)
244 runs at 15.25, high score 30
55 wickets at 38.05, best bowling 6-80
Bishoo has a Test bowling average of 38.05, but aside from two Tests in Bangladesh he has struggled on the subcontinent. He has never played in Australia before, and he could really struggle in the unfriendly conditions. Took six this year against Australia.
Jermaine Blackwood – batsman (RHB, OB)
742 runs at 39.05 high score 112*
2 wickets at 66, best bowling 2-14
Blackwood is one player who could surprise a few people in this series. Since breaking into the Test team he has gone from strength to strength, and he can score quickly if needed. Could be a threat to the Australian bowlers.
Carlos Brathwaite – bowler (RHB, RFM)
A quick bowler who has played seven ODIs for the West Indies, his first-class bowling average of 20.2 is very impressive. He has been a solid performer at a domestic level, but his international record has not been so good.
Darren Bravo – batsman (LHB, RMF)
39 Tests, 2741 runs at 40.91
Bravo has been one of the mainstays of the West Indian team over the last few years, and his record speaks for itself. He will be holding down the number three slot while his half-brother Dwayne plies his trade with the Melbourne Renegades in the BBL.
Rajendra Chandrika – batsman (RHB, OB)
The Australians will know of Chandrika, who made his runless, wicketless Test debut against them this year. After opening the innings with Kraigg Brathwaite he fell to Mitchell Starc without scoring in both innings. With a first-class average of 26.26, he could be in line for another crack this series.
Shane Dowrich – wicketkeeper batsman (RHB)
102 runs at 25.5, high score 70
Dowrich was rewarded for good form in the 2014-15 domestic season with selection for the Tests against Australia. They may remember his 70 in the second innings of the first Test, but that was his only significant innings in the series.
Shannon Gabriel – bowler (RHB, RFM)
53 runs at 4.41, high score 20*
33 wickets at 37.03, best bowling 3-10
A genuinely quick bowler who has the potential to do plenty of damage, Gabriel has been in the sights of the selectors for some time and while he can go for big runs he can also take plenty of wickets. If he gets going the Australian batsmen will not have an easy time of it.
Shai Hope – wicketkeeper batsman (RHB)
162 runs at 16.2, high score 36
Hope had played just 14 first-class matches when picked to face the English, and he has plenty of potential. He will probably provide easy pickings for the Aussie quicks, but the learning experience will be very valuable.
Denesh Ramdin – wicketkeeper (RHB)
2765 runs at 25.84, high score 166
202 catches, 11 stumpings
Ramdin was dumped from the West Indian Test captaincy this year after 13 Tests leading his country. A solid keeper-batsman who hit back at Viv Richards while celebrating a century scored against England, his critics should watch out if he makes a ton against Australia.
Kemar Roach – bowler (RHB, RF)
427 runs at 9.7, high score 41
122 wickets at 28.21, best bowling 6-48
Roach is genuinely quick, and last time he visited he left Ricky Ponting in agony with a spearing bouncer to the elbow. He is not particularly tall, but is very difficult to face and specialises in Test cricket. Not much of a threat with the bat, but he will scare some of Australia’s best batsmen.
Marlon Samuels – all-rounder (RHB, OB)
3587 runs at 34.82, high score 260
41 wickets at 59.63, best bowling 4-13
Samuels made his Test debut in 2000 against Australia, and he is the most experienced player on the team. With plenty of arrogance, he has been embroiled in controversy throughout his career. He has been banned for match fixing, and a return to the MCG may stir up bad memories of his ugly Big Bash confrontation with Shane Warne in 2013. He will be unable to bowl until he undergoes a biomechanical test, which he will do in Australia.
Jerome Taylor – bowler (RHB, RF)
816 runs at 13.37, high score 106
128 wickets at 32.99, best bowling 6-47
Taylor was 18 when he made his debut for the West Indies, and he had almost no professional experience. The West Indians will need him to take plenty of early wickets and lead their attack, and some quick runs down the order could come in handy.
Jomel Warrican – bowler (RHB, SLA)
21 runs at 21, high score 20*
6 wickets at 21.5, best bowling 4-67
Warrican made his Test debut this year against Sri Lanka, and he is sure to get a look-in when the time comes for the selectors to pick a first-choice spinner. He has a great first-class record, and if he can keep bowling well he could be a great prospect.