John Dyson, the West Indies coach, wants his team to show their potential during the series against England which starts early next month. The tourists arrived in St Kitts yesterday to begin their build-up and Dyson said his side will be ready for a tough contest when the first Test starts in Jamaica on February 4.
"The series against England should produce tense, hard-fought cricket between the two teams," he said. "The cricket-loving public should be ready for some engrossing cricket. It is time for West Indies to stand up and prove that we are climbing the ICC's [ranking] table."
West Indies have recently returned from a full tour of New Zealand where they narrowly lost the one-day series having shared both the Tests and Twenty20 contests. The two Tests were drawn, but West Indies produced enough moments to suggest they are good enough to make life tough for England over the next few months.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul continued his outstanding form with runs in both matches, Chris Gayle scored a memorable 197 in Napier and Jerome Taylor showed his immense batting promise with a maiden Test century full of flowing strokeplay. Dyson also picked out Brendan Nash, who has begun his international career in solid style after moving from Australia, as a positive and wants the other players to start playing their part.
"Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been in consistently superb form over the past 12 months and Chris Gayle is fresh from a magnificent 197," he said. "Both will be keen to continue their excellent touch with the bat while Ramnaresh Sarwan, will want to make amends for a moderate tour - by his high standards - of New Zealand.
"Brendan Nash, after an excellent debut series in New Zealand, will look to build on his impressive start to Test cricket and post his first Test century. All other hopeful West Indies batsmen will be desperate to score significant runs and secure their place in the team."
England are likely to face a potent pace attack including Taylor, Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards, the latter having claimed a career-best 7 for 87 against New Zealand in Napier. It remains to be seen how West Indies balance their team, especially with Dwayne Bravo still recovering from ankle problems, but Dyson said there is plenty of spin-bowling talent pushing for a place.
"The series is a further opportunity for a spinner to make a major contribution to the bowling effort," he said. "Hot competition for the spinning role exists between Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Amit Jaggernauth, Dave Mohammed and others and all should be desperately keen to impress the selectors in the regional four-day matches. Whoever is ultimately given the job must provide the wicket-taking variety West Indies need to balance the established pace attack."
Dyson will have the chance to assess some of the youngsters coming through when West Indies A take on England in St Kitts next week and they will be keen to push their cases for a Test call-up.