Hope, Campbell in firing line as Simmons mulls batting changes

first_imgBy Matt RollerWEST Indies coach Phil Simmons has admitted that he is “concerned” by the form of John Campbell and Shai Hope, and will consider making top-order changes ahead of the third Test.Campbell and Hope both fell cheaply on the final day of the second Test, and have made 52 and 57 runs respectively in four innings in this series. Speaking at the post-match press conference, Simmons also bemoaned West Indies’ failure to convert fifties into hundreds throughout the series, and said that changes would have to be discussed.“(Campbell and Hope’s form) is something that we have to discuss over the next couple of days, and make a decision as to which direction we go there,” Simmons said. “You’re right, they haven’t fired, so we’ve got to take that into consideration.“We’ve had five or six half-centuries (in this Test) and no conversion. It’s something that we’ve been talking about a lot, and no one has taken up that opportunity in this game, yet again. It is disappointing.“It’s critical that our batsmen carry on and make big hundreds. (Ben) Stokes made 176, what’s-his-name (Dom Sibley) 120-odd. Our batsmen need to make hundreds, because our bowlers have been doing their job. Now the batsmen need to stand up and do what they have to for West Indies cricket.”In particular, Simmons said that he was disappointed with Hope’s form. Captain Jason Holder had backed Hope coming into the second Test, saying that he had “all the confidence that Shai Hope will deliver”, but scores of 25 and 7 only extended a miserable run of form that has seen him make 111 runs at 12.33 in his last 10 Test innings.“Yes, I’m concerned,” Simmons admitted. “He’s gone four innings without a score, in contrast to how he played over the last five, six months in the other formats. I am concerned about his form, and we’ll be sitting down and chatting about that over the next couple of days.”Simmons added that the moment he thought anyone was playing for their place in the side rather than for the team, they would be dropped.“If I think you’re more concerned about your current form than what you can do for the team, then you can think about your current form on the sideline,” he said. “So far, everyone has been looking to work hard for the team, and if someone changes that train of thought, then he’s not there for the team and we’ll have to think about that very, very seriously.”While Campbell’s batting is the main concern, Simmons also criticised his fielding, after he dropped Stokes in the second over of the final day. Stokes was on 29 at the time, and went on to add 48 more runs off his next 34 balls to put England into a commanding position.“If you go out and drop him (Stokes) within six balls (11) of the start, well then you’ve got problems,” Simmons said. “It’s our doing that, he had the opportunity to go on and show what he’s made of.”The West Indies management had previously suggested that they would consider adding players from the reserves to the 15-man squad ahead of the third Test of the series, depending on how the series panned out.The back-up batsman in the main squad is the uncapped Nkrumah Bonner, but the management will discuss alternatives in the coming days. Left-handed Shayne Moseley is the most experienced opener in the reserves, and there may also be a temptation to include the 22-year-old Joshua Da Silva. He made 189 unbeaten runs at the top of the order in the second intra-squad warm-up match.There may be some workload management for West Indies’ seamers too, after the visitors decided to pick an unchanged XI for the second Test. Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach have bowled 69.5 and 80 overs respectively in the series so far, and with only three days’ recovery time after back-to-back Tests, there may be little choice but to rotate.“I have no regrets,” Simmons said, when asked about the decision to pick an unchanged team. “We did well, we won the Test match before, and looking at the squad and the team we played in that Test match, we were happy with the team we went in with.”Simmons also reacted sharply when a journalist described Gabriel – who struggled for rhythm on the first morning and was off the field for some time on the second day – as looking “stiff”.“I don’t know about Shannon being anything,” he said. “Shannon bowled at good pace in every spell he bowled, even last night.” He did, however, concede that the team would keep an eye on the quick in the lead-up to the third Test. “We’ll have to take things into consideration over the next couple of days, and then make a decision.”Uncapped Chemar Holder and bowling all-rounder Raymon Reifer are the back-up seamers in the main squad, but West Indies may well include off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall for the third Test. (ESPN Cricinfo)last_img

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