South Africa, Pakistan series will test Windies mettle — PerrySunday, June 13, 2021
BY SANJAY MYERS
FORMER West Indies spinner Nehemiah Perry says the visit of South Africa and Pakistan will go a far way toward indicating how much the regional side has progressed in the Test arena.
Last month, the International Cricket Council (ICC) rated the West Indies Test team sixth in the world, two spots up from its previous position, and the Caribbean side's highest placing in nearly a decade.
“We can't get carried away because you can make two steps forward and one step back and stuff like that. What you want is continuity where people don't get carried away because we've moved to sixth,” Perry told the Jamaica Observer.
“When you play teams like New Zealand, India, Australia, South Africa and England — those are the five that you need to beat — and Pakistan [are] also playing some good cricket. You have to focus on how you can eke out wins against these teams,” the former Jamaica off-spinner said.
India lead the global Test rankings, with New Zealand close in second. They are followed by England in third spot, fourth-placed Australia and fifth-placed Pakistan.
South Africa are seventh — an unaccustomed position for them — but rocked by serious administrative problems in recent months, they have had a bad run on the field of play of late. Even with the team's recent challenges, South Africa's pace attack is among Test cricket's most potent.
West Indies kicked off a busy home summer schedule last week in St Lucia, losing the first match of a two-Test series against the South Africans. Pakistan are booked for two Tests in Jamaica in August.
Next month, Australia are expected to visit the Caribbean, but that tour will be limited to One-Day and Twenty20 Internationals.
The once mighty West Indies have endured a spiral in Test fortunes since the mid-1990s.
Amidst the slide there have been moments of positives.
West Indies surprised many in 2017 by winning a Test in England before succumbing to a 1-2 series defeat. Two years later they shocked the Englishmen 2-1 in the Caribbean.
Last summer they suffered a 1-2 reverse away to England, which was followed by a 0-2 hammering at the hands of hosts and heavy favourites New Zealand.
However, West Indies, without a few leading players who opted out due to coronavirus-related concerns, managed an unlikely 2-0 sweep of hosts Bangladesh a few months ago. More recently the West Indians held Sri Lanka to a nil-all result in the Caribbean.
“How can we sustain this climb? We have to continue playing good cricket, we have to continue improving as a cricket team,” Perry, who played four Tests and 21 One-Day Internationals for West Indies between 1999 and 2000, noted.
“The coaching staff has a responsibility to get players moving from being ordinary to good players, and from good players to excellent players. When we see players we must see growth, so the next time it's a different kettle of fish; he [a player] has come on leaps and bounds. The players also have to buy in to it. You have to really and truly prepare well; there have to be specific things that you are working on.
“The next goal is to move to [number] five by playing some good, consistent cricket. When you go abroad, you [should] win Test matches and win series. Going to Bangladesh and winning would have done them some good, and they didn't lose to Sri Lanka, so that's important to show you aren't a pushover,” he said.
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