MANCHESTER, England – Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph believes he is much better equipped to make an impact on the current tour of England than he was when he first played here three years ago.
An inexperienced 20-year-old Joseph, with just five Test under his belt, featured in the first Test of the 2017 tour but leaked runs and went wicket-less in a game to forget, as West Indies slumped to a heavy innings defeat at Birmingham.
While injury has since limited him to just three Tests since, the Antiguan said Saturday he was a much different player now.
“I’ve made some improvements as a bowler. That [2017 tour] was a really big learning experience for me – my first time in England,” he told media via Zoom.
“I have some experience here now so I would know how to bowl in these conditions this time around. The ball does a bit more here in England than in the Caribbean. [You have to make] some slight adjustments, nothing too big. Just some simple adjustments.”
“For me, I think it is putting the ball in that good area, extracting whatever movement you can get off the pitch and just sticking to your plans as long as possible.”
Joseph has impressed since arriving here three weeks ago, first in the nets and then in the three-day “inter-squad” warm-up match last week when he bowled outstandingly to finish with a six-wicket match haul.
He is expected to form a four-pronged pace attack alongside captain Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach for the first Test starting July 8 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, and believes one of the keys to success will be England’s bowlers underestimating his strengths.
“Obviously those three guys have a lot more experience than I do so people may think I’m the weak link, so I think my job is to come in and back up those bowlers and keep the pressure on,” he explained.
“I think we bowled fairly well in the Caribbean [last year] so it’s just for us to come here and get a feel for the conditions and assess as quickly as possible.”
The tour is being played in a “bio-secure” environment, with the squad entirely isolated from the public for the seven-week duration.
As such, all three Tests – the second and third will be staged at Old Trafford here – will be played behind closed doors but Joseph does not expect the lack of crowd support to be a factor for West Indies.
“A crowd doesn’t really have anything to do with my performance because back home we’re used to playing without crowds,” he pointed out.
“When you play the four-day season they’re very few people in the crowd so crowds don’t really affect how I perform or how I play. There hasn’t been much discussion [among the squad] about crowds. I think everyone is more focussed on the job they have to do.”
West Indies play their final tour match, a four-day affair starting here Monday, and Joseph acknowledged the outing would be critical
“I see it as another opportunity to get some more overs under my belt and some more time out in the middle here to get used to the conditions,” he stressed.
“I’m just looking to stay consistent. I think I bowled pretty well [in the first match] so I’m just looking to repeat what I did in the last game.”
Joseph, a member of the Under-19 World Cup-winning squad in Bangladesh four years ago, has taken 25 wickets from nine Tests.