Bridgetown, Barbados: West Indies seamer Kemar Roach will renew his bruising rivalry with Ricky Ponting on Saturday as the home side seek to end two decades of failure against Australia. When Roach and Ponting last came face to face in a Test at the pacy WACA in Perth in 2009, the former Australian skipper was peppered with a series of short-pitched deliveries.
One 146kph delivery smacked into Ponting's elbow and, although the gritty Australian soldiered on for over half an hour, he was forced to retire to nurse his wounds. "I remember Ponting making some comments some time ago about helping to launch Kemar's career," West Indies coach Ottis Gibson told the Nation newspaper on Friday, on the eve of the first Test at Kensington Oval. "I'm sure that Kemar, if he gets the opportunity on Saturday morning first up with the new ball in his hand, will be looking forward to it. Likewise, I'm sure Ricky will be looking to get back at Kemar."
West Indies have gone almost 20 years without a series win over Australia but Gibson insists the current generation has nothing to fear."I think we have at least three or four guys who will be looking forward to this series," he said. "Everybody is looking forward to getting stuck in, and the exciting thing is that it means that there is competition for places and that brings the kind of environment which we are trying to create."
West Indies have so far held their nerve against the tourists, drawing both the one-day and Twenty20 series curtain-raisers to the three-Test series.
Gibson said that highly-rated middle-order batsman and off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine will play a key role, having been called into to replace Marlon Samuels, who is playing in IPL 5. Deonarine, 28, was the leading batsman in the regional four-day tournament with 582 runs at an average of 44.76, and 20 wickets at 16.9 apiece. "He is someone that we need right now. We are not able to have Marlon in the team, and he is sort of a like-for-like replacement for Marlon, whereas he can bat and he can bowl a little offspin," said the coach. "With regards to his fitness, it is an ongoing process for him and it is something that he has to keep on top of. He will know that if eventually he doesn't make the necessary adjustments in terms of fitness, then the team will move on, as all great teams do, without him."
Meanwhile, Australia on Friday named their 12-man squad for the first Test. The starting XI will be finalised at the coin toss after Michael Beer, Peter Forrest, Peter Nevill and Mitchell Starc were trimmed from the 16-man touring squad for the first Test of a three-game series.
Australian squad of 12: Michael Clarke (c), Shane Watson, Ed Cowan, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner