Click here to print page

With both hands

Windies batsman Blackwood wants to grab England chance with both hands

Senior staff reporter

Friday, June 05, 2020

BATSMAN Jermaine Blackwood, recalled to the West Indies side after a significant time on the sidelines, vows he will push on to bigger scores if given the opportunity on the tour of England.

The 28-year-old Jamaican is among 14 players named by Cricket West Indies for the three-Test series which is scheduled to start next month.

“I've been out of the Test team for [almost three years], and getting back to the set-up I feel very good; I worked very hard to get back,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“My goal is to try to [learn from] the mistakes that I made in the past. Now I'm older and have more understanding of what I need to do in terms of when I get to a half-century. I have a lot of half-centuries and the conversion rate is very poor so I'm looking to better that, if I get the chance,” Blackwood said.

The right-hand batsman has played 28 Tests with meagre success, averaging 30.26 with a lone hundred and 10 half-centuries to his name.

His last outing was as a concussion substitute for Darren Bravo, who suffered a blow to the head while batting, during a Test match against India in Kingston last September. In his only chance to bat, Blackwood made 38 in the second innings as West Indies slumped to a 257-run loss.

Beyond that abnormal case, his previous Test appearance had been away to Zimbabwe in late 2017.

During last season's domestic four-day championship, Blackwood was in supreme form, amassing 768 runs for Jamaica Scorpions in eight matches. He registered a first-class career-best 248, and added six half-centuries to end with an impressive average of 51.20.

A feature of his batting was the manner in which he went about accumulating his runs. Blackwood, generally dashing and attacking, curbed that style and instead applied a more measured approach.

He believes the change contributed to his consistent returns, and is banking on it to serve him well for the rest of his career.

“I'm looking to take this approach that I had in the four-day [tournament]. Everybody [is] always been telling me to just bat some balls because the way that I score fast, once I'm out there for hours I'm going to score. I took that approach in the four-day and I'm gonna take this right through my career,” he said.

In England, the conditions generally favour pace bowlers with substantial seam movement and swing through the air. In addition, the home side has a pool of fast bowlers that rivals the best anywhere in the world.

Armed with a chock-full of confidence, Blackwood is not perturbed by the threat.

“I've played in England a few times, so I know the conditions somewhat,” he said.

“England have a very great bowling attack, but I'm just going there to do my thing. I'm just going there to put my best foot forward, and to go out there and score runs. I don't really care who I'm playing against, I'm just looking to score runs and spend some time in the middle,” he told the Observer.

West Indies are holders of the Wisden Trophy after defeating the Englishmen 2-1 in the Caribbean early last year.

The return tour to England was originally scheduled to run from May to June but was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In the United Kingdom, the virus — which causes the COVID-19 disease — has resulted in approximately 40,000 deaths.

All three matches are to be played without on-site spectators in cricket's first-ever biosecure Test series. Biosecure measures are designed to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases.

If given the all clear, the West Indies 14-member squad, plus 11 reserve players, will leave next week. Players and staff will be quarantined for two weeks before the opening Test, set to begin on July 8 at Ageas Bowl in Southampton. The second and third matches are booked for Old Trafford in Manchester, starting on July 16 and 24, respectively.

The touring side has arranged to travel with as many as 25 players to allow for internal preparation matches and to ensure replacements are readily available in the event of illness or injury.

Players from both teams will be required to avoid members of the public and to follow physical distancing guidelines while on tour.

Squad Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Chemar Holder, Nkrumah Bonner, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer.

Reserves Sunil Ambris, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shayne Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican.