GROS ISLET – Marquee seamer Kemar Roach enters the second Test against Bangladesh in St Lucia on Friday poised to become only the sixth West Indies bowler in history to reach 250 wickets, but captain Kraigg Brathwaite said the looming achievement would not cloud the side’s focus in their quest for a series sweep.
Barbadian Roach, who turns 34 at month end, picked up seven wickets in the opening Test which West Indies won by seven wickets in Antigua last Sunday, to move alongside the legendary Michael Holding on 249 wickets.
One more wicket will put him in the highly vaunted club which comprises Courtney Walsh, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall, Lance Gibbs and Joel Garner but Brathwaite assured that milestones were secondary to the match result.
“Going into the game we’re not studying milestones. As a group, we think about our own team plans and funny enough, if you do the team plans well, milestones may come,” Brathwaite stressed here Thursday.
“We know Bangladesh will come fighting hard again so I think we’re really focussing hard on our plans and everything else will take care of itself.”
He continued: “I think the main thing is attitude. I think we’ve developed a really good attitude towards preparation for the longer format and we need to just keep it up. I think the England series was well done. We fought hard the first two games and obviously got the win in the last game.
“This one, we started well but for me what is key is that consistency is always important. As I said, Bangladesh will be coming hard this game – both the batsmen and the bowlers – so we can’t take it lightly.
“The attitude of the players has really improved and it’s just to keep going and never take things for granted. We’ve got to keep our feet on the gas and keep working hard as a group.”
West Indies shocked England 1-0 in the three-Test series last March and a win in the second Test at the Daren Sammy National Stadium will see them remain unbeaten in the longest format this year.
However, Brathwaite remained wary of stumbles which have plagued the Caribbean side in the past. Last August, they won the opening Test against Pakistan by one wicket only to succumb in the second Test by 109 runs.
He said it was important to approach the game with the same intensity as the first Test, while bracing for a backlash from Bangladesh.
“Focus is very big and then attitude. I always speak about attitude. We can’t take things for granted,” he pointed out.
“That second Test against Pakistan – that’s the example we brought to the guys. We started the series well against them and then obviously Pakistan won the second game.
“It’s having the attitude that the first game is gone. I think that is history. And we know Bangladesh are going to come and fight again so we have to be on it. We’ve got to work hard again.
“We can’t mentally just think we’re going to score a big total and then get them out. The batsmen had two days to practice and the Bangladesh batsmen are going to be finding ways to combat our pacers so it’s about just having that focus and not taking things lightly.
“We’ve got to stay on the gas and we’ve got to work hard and just keep that attitude in the right place for every ball, every hour, every session … then the results will take care of themselves.”
West Indies earlier this week named an unchanged 13-man squad for the Test.
WEST INDIES – Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice captain), Nkrumah Bonner, John Campbell, Joshua Da Silva, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Anderson Phillips, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Devon Thomas.
BANGLADESH – Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Anamul Haque, Ebadot Hossain, Litton Das, Mahmudul, Hasan Joy, Mehidy Hasan Miraz , Mominul Haque, Mosaddek Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Nurul Hasan, Rejaur Rahman Raja, Shohidul Islam, Shoriful Islam, Khaled Ahmed, Taijul Islam, Tamim Iqbal.