'A collective team effort'

'A collective team effort'

Scorpions Coach Andre Coley impressed by Windies' effort in first Test win

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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Jamaica's cricket Coach Andre Coley says he was impressed by the collective team effort from West Indies after they earned a hard-fought victory in the first Test against favourites England in Southampton.

Among several valuable contributions in the four-wicket win, the indefatigable pacer, Shannon Gabriel, who claimed the player of the match award, stood out with figures of 9-137.

Middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood was similarly integral, withstanding the England bowlers' onslaught on Sunday's final day with a belligerent 95.

Throughout the match, the fielding was mostly good from the visiting team, and though wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich put down a low chance, he otherwise hardly put a foot wrong on a surface which offered variable bounce.

“Our bowlers did a fantastic job in helping to set up the game and Dowrich was excellent behind the stumps. Our batters played useful knocks in the first innings to gain a lead just over a 100 runs,” Coley, a former national wicketkeeper, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Windies Captain Jason Holder had set the tone in the first innings, capturing a Test career-best 6-42 as England, who won the toss and chose to bat, were bowled out for a meagre 204 runs.

Half-centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite and Dowrich helped to push the West Indies reply to 318. Seamer Ben Stokes, the stand-in England skipper, claimed four wickets.

Batting a second time, the hosts tallied 313 on the back of half-centuries from Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley, but West Indies, powered by Gabriel (5-75), bowled with resolve, spirit and skill to keep the target at a minimum.

“Gabriel was fantastic! He bowled fast and straight. Holder was skilful in moving the ball around as he has been and...[Kemar] Roach and [Alzarri] Joseph gave good support and kept the pressure on the batters. [Roston] Chase continues to show that his off spin is better than part time,” added the Jamaica Scorpions coach.

On a wearing last-day pitch against a fiery England bowling attack, led by Barbadian-born Jofra Archer (3-45), the 28-year-old Jamaican Blackwood played the innings of the match to help the visitors to 200-6.

The diminutive right-hander survived two early dropped chances, but showed determination and calmness in his match-winning knock.

Under Coley's guidance with the Scorpions, Blackwood curbed his attacking instincts to compile 768 runs in 15 innings during last season's domestic championship, paving the way for his selection for the opening Test match against England.

The coach is predicting continued success for his Jamaican compatriot Blackwood on the Test tour of England once he can maintain a balance between attack and defence.

“Blackwood is naturally aggressive. If he can continue with a good mix of patience and aggression he should have a good series with the West Indies. He has worked hard over the last 12 months,” said Coley, formerly head coach of the West Indies Under-19s and assistant coach of the senior team.

“He was composed and patient while making some good decisions in his strokeplay. He was involved in a number of significant partnerships which contributed to the win at the end. He missed out on a personal milestone [of making a century], however, the success of the team comes first,” he explained.

The second Test is scheduled to begin on Thursday in Manchester, while the third and final match of the series is slated for the same venue, starting July 24.

The Test matches are being contested behind closed doors to minimise the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus. Both match venues have hotels on site.

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