Unbeaten West Indies upbeat before 2-test Australian series

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The West Indies have had little success in the shortest form of cricket lately but veteran Jason Holder says that won't diminish the test team’s ambitions for the two-match series against Australia beginning Wednesday.

The Caribbean side lost in the preliminary stage of the Twenty20 World Cup in late October in Australia, beaten by both Ireland and Scotland. Those losses meant the team which won the T20 World Cup in 2012 and 2016 didn’t qualify for the main tournament.

Coach Phil Simmons has quit and the two tests in Australia -- the second a day-night match beginning Dec. 8 in Adelaide -- will be his last in charge.

Holder says the test team is going in the opposite direction -- unbeaten this year with series wins at home against Bangladesh and England.

“If you look at the nucleus of this test team it’s been together for the last five or six years, which is really important,” Holder told Australian Associated Press from Perth, Western Australia, site of the first test. “In comparison to the other (West Indies) sides, there is probably a little bit more chopping and changing.

“Our focus right now is test cricket. We put the Twenty20 World Cup behind us and we are just try to focus on that.”

Five players are in the test squad that played on the T20 team, including fast bowler Alzarri Joseph.

As a 19-year-old, Joseph impressed Australian players during a 2016 net session in the Caribbean. Joseph will be making his first test appearance in Australia — the Caribbean side hasn’t play for the Frank Worrell Trophy for seven years Down Under.

“We saw him just bowling thunderbolts,” Australia opener David Warner said of the 2016 net session. “On those wickets . . . it was a bit daunting. We just didn’t know where he’d come from.”

Joseph debuted for the West Indies two months later and has since taken 62 wickets in 22 tests.

“He was young back then. It’s good to see him evolve from then,” Warner told AAP. “He’s a fantastic bowler, he’s got a good record. I faced him in the IPL when he first came in and took (six wickets) against us.

“That’s what West Indies cricket needs, they need guys coming in bowling at high speeds . . . back to what they were in the ’80s and ’90s.”

Both the new stadium in Perth and the Adelaide Oval are expected to favor fast bowlers.

Holder confirmed that Tagenarine Chanderpaul, son of West Indies legend Shivnarine, would debut for the visitors.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite is in the unique position of having batted alongside Shivnarine in the final years of the West Indian champion’s career and will now open with Tagenarine on debut.

“It’s remarkable for him,” Brathwaite said Tuesday. “Obviously he was a great, so it’s not shocking that he has a son that is playing. Tag will do a fantastic job and let’s hope he could even do greater things like his father did.”

Meanwhile, Warner said he will reassess his future at the end of the test summer in Australia, with the opener likely to be the first of the current team to retire from red-ball cricket.

Warner indicated earlier this month he could retire from test cricket within a year and play on until the 2024 T20 World Cup. The 50-over World Cup is also scheduled for next year in India.

“They’re the whispers,” Warner said when asked if this might be his last test season in Australia. “I did make some comments but these legs are still fresh. I’m still scoring runs. I’ll have to assess again at the end of the season and speak to the family.”

The 36-year-old Warner is on track to play in his 100th test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground beginning Dec. 26 against South Africa. In 96 tests, Warner has scored 7,817 runs at an average of 46.52 with 24 centuries and 34 half-centuries.

“I’m enjoying where I am at the moment, enjoying the training, enjoying the youngsters coming into the group,” Warner said. “It’s about helping the team the best I can, whether it’s on the field or off the field. I enjoy that responsibility.”



Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.

West Indies (from): Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Shamarh Brooks, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Anderson Phillip, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Devon Thomas.


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