Though West Indies enter today’s start of the first Test match against the visitors Bangladesh without top all-rounder Jason Holder, a popular view is that his absence offers the opportunity for others to come to the fore.
The series opener is scheduled for the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua before action shifts to Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia for the June 24 start of the second and final Test.
Cricket West Indies said Holder asked to be rested for the series.
The hosts are also without express fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who is struggling for sharpness following recovery from injury. Of note, Gabriel missed the three-Test series against touring England in March, which the hosts won 1-0.
Five of the players in the West Indies squad, including pacers Alzarri Joseph, Jayden Seales, and Anderson Phillip, only returned to the Caribbean earlier this week after the recent white-ball series in Pakistan.
“The bowling looks a little thin, to be honest, but it’s an opportunity for someone else to step up,” former Jamaica and West Indies spinner Nehemiah Perry said on Wednesday.
“We don’t have a Jason Holder, but at the same time I think we have enough quality there in the bowling line-up to get 20 wickets.
“When we bat, I think we have enough there. The captain [Kraigg Brathwaite], we have some experience; we have Jermaine Blackwood, the vice-captain, who has been showing some good form in recent times.
“I’m looking forward to a good contest against Bangladesh. If we play some consistent cricket, focus on the job at hand, and put them under pressure, I think West Indies can come out with a win,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Junior Bennett, Jamaica cricket’s lead selector and former senior men’s team head coach, noted possible weaknesses in the bowling link, but said West Indies, especially on home soil, should start favourites.
“I believe we are going to do well against Bangladesh even though I think our bowling is a concern as we lack real firepower,” he said.
“But we batted well against England, so if we can reproduce that form we should do well. And, even though a few senior players will not feature in the series, I think we have suitable players to replace them,” Bennett added.
The last time the teams met in Tests was early last year, and West Indies, without a handful of prominent players at the time, swept the hosts Bangladesh 2-0.
The feat is etched in Perry’s memory, in particular the batting heroics from all-rounder Kyle Mayers.
“When we went down in Bangladesh for the Test series, we won that. Who can forget that double hundred by Kyle Mayers? A fantastic innings!
“So I don’t think we need to be worried. I think we need to be focused on the job, focus on the processes, focus on the key areas and how we’re going to get the 20 wickets, and how we’re going to score runs,” he said.
“But it’s not going to be easy. Bangladesh is not a pushover anymore. They are a team that comes to compete and we have to bear in mind that they are here to win as well,” Perry noted.
West Indies squad — Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), John Campbell, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, Joshua Da Silva, Raymon Reifer, Devon Thomas, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Anderson Phillip
Reserves — Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Shermon Lewis