MELBOURNE, Australia _ First-test century maker Darren Bravo and coach Phil Simmons insist the West Indies are better than the lacklustre side which lost the opening match of the series to Australia by an innings and 212 runs, and are determined to prove it in the second test starting Saturday.
Bravo scored 108 in the West Indies’ first innings at Hobart, while Kraigg Brathwaite contributed 94 after Australia captain Steve Smith enforced the follow-on. They were the only bright batting performances in what Bravo termed a “poor test.”
The teams meet again at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the traditional Boxing Day test.
“When you’re not scoring runs it’s always difficult to pick yourself up,” Bravo said. “But I believe the guys have that sort of resilience in them. We’ve scored international hundreds already, we’ve proven we are definitely capable of playing at this level.
“We’re really pumped up … we’re much better prepared and we’re looking forward to it.”
Simmons said Wednesday that he also expected an improved performance from his side while bemoaning the absence of star players who have preferred lucrative Twenty20 contracts to national-team duty.
Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo (Darren’s brother) and Andre Russell are among the Caribbean players currently in Australia playing in the Big Bash League.
“I’m totally frustrated,” Simmons said Wednesday. “It’s enjoyable to see Russell bowling at 140 clicks and (Dwayne) Bravo hitting three or four sixes and Chris (playing). It is frustrating that we don’t have them yet playing in a test series but it’s something that’s been going on for a while. It’s up to our administration and our bosses to find out how is the best way that we can get these guys on the pitch.”
Australia has a few selection issues ahead of the second test. Victoria pace bowler Scott Boland was called into the squad for Nathan Coulter-Nile, who sustained a dislocated shoulder in the Big Bash on Monday.
Australia is expected to stick with an unchanged pace attack of Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle.
With Usman Khawaja recovered from a left hamstring injury that forced him to miss two tests, either opener Joe Burns or Shaun Marsh, despite scoring 182 runs in the first test, could be left out if Khawaja is recalled.
If Burns is dropped, there is speculation that either Khawaja, a usual No. 3, or Marsh, who has a first-class opening average of 44.95 in 22 innings, could be moved up to open.
The West Indies need to make at least one change to their starting XI, with the injury to Shannon Gabriel, but Simmons said that he would wait until he inspected the pitch on Thursday before deciding if legspinner Devendra Bishoo comes in.
Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, Steve Smith (captain), Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland.
West Indies: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Rajendra Chandrika, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Jomel Warrican.
The Associated Press