Former quick believes tourists will need to play “exceptionally well” to defeat England in three-Test series
Test legend Curtly Ambrose has given his former side little chance of victory in their upcoming Test series against England, but his pace predecessor Joel Garner has warned against “writing the West Indies off too early”.
A three-match campaign starts with the first day-night Test ever staged on British soil, at Birmingham’s Edgbaston ground on Thursday.
Fresh off a 3-1 win over South Africa in a four-Test home series, Ambrose stresses England will start as huge favourites.
Not only have the West Indies lost their last six Test series, they have been beaten in 14 of their most recent Tests in England and drawn the other three.
“Whether it’s a pink or a red ball, the way they are playing now, I am very, very concerned,” Ambrose told BBC radio.
“England are the favourites, they have just beaten South Africa 3-1 … and South Africa are a better team than the West Indies at the moment. (England’s) confidence is sky high.
“The West Indies on the other hand will have to play exceptionally well, first of all to compete, let alone win a game.
“Speaking from the heart as a West Indian, I’m hoping they can at least win a match or compete. But as a realist I’m not so sure they are going to compete against England.”
But fast-bowling great Garner, now the West Indies team manager, said Monday: “I think people are writing the West Indies off too early and it could be at their own peril.”
And with a fast-bowling attack led by Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, allied to a new work ethic being installed by Australian coach Stuart Law, Garner believes his side, who were defeated by Pakistan in their first-ever pink-ball Test in Dubai last October, could yet upset the odds.
“Cricket is played in the middle at the end of the day,” Garner added. “I think the fellas have got talent.
“It’s who makes the greatest adjustment in the day/night game. Games between England and the West Indies are competitive. I wouldn’t completely write them off.”
West Indies, however, have arrived in England without several star players including Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels – the legacy of a bitter dispute with West Indies cricket officials, plus the fact that the Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament is going on at home at the same time as the Test series.
While Cricket West Indies recently granted an ‘amnesty’ in a bid to get senior players back on board ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England, it has come too late to alter the squad for the Test series.
“We will welcome them back because they are our better players but at the present moment we are here to play cricket,” said the 64-year-old Garner. “We’ve got to work with what we’ve got. We still have fight.
“We can’t keep looking and saying ‘we’ll wait and see if the other players come back as well’.”
Garner said he felt relations between players and officials were improving.
“There’s a lot more communication going on between the players and the officials,” he said. “It can only get better.”
But the 64-year-old Garner accepted the timing of the CPL was far from ideal.
“That is the biggest challenge because that is where most of the money is being aimed at,” said Garner.
“I think you have to work around it and get the tours organised in such a way there’s no competition from the shorter version of the game.”