Bridgetown: The West Indies will not be easing up on Zimbabwe despite their relatively easy success in the preceding limited overs series, head coach Ottis Gibson has warned. The regional side encountered little resistance as they blew away the Zimbabweans 2-0 in the Twenty20 series and also swept the three-match One-Day International series.
With the first Test of the two-match series bowling off in a matter of days, Gibson said he expected his side to take fresh guard. "The interesting thing is we play three different formats with some new players coming in, so hopefully those players will bring a new focus," Gibson told a media conference on Sunday.
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson Sunday said mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine had not been discarded but given time off from what had been a gruelling schedule.
Narine, the region's frontline spinner for the last two years, was left out of the 13-man squad for the opening Test against Zimbabwe which bowls off at Kensington Oval here Tuesday.
He has been replaced by off-spinner Shane Shillingford who last played on the tour of England last spring.
"I think he (Narine) was (considered for selection). The selectors, from my understanding, thought that since he has come into international cricket, he has played every format," Gibson told reporters.
"He has played a lot of cricket and they wanted to give him a break more than anything else from the intensity of this cricket and let him get back and start to enjoy his cricket a little bit more.
"He is playing for Trinidad and obviously enjoying it, getting wickets and stuff like that. He is young to international cricket and I'm sure he is somebody that has a huge part to play for us in all formats."
Narine has been successful in the shorter versions of the game but has had a modest impact in Tests, with just 15 wickets from five matches at an average of 48.
He was particularly average on the tour of Bangladesh late last year when he managed just three wickets from 78 overs in the two Tests.
Narine has been joined on the sidelines by experienced right-hander Ramnaresh Sarwan who has not played a Test in nearly two years.
The 32-year-old was recently recalled to the one-day side after a similar protracted spell outside the selection frame but struggled in Australia with 12 runs in three innings, including two noughts.
While he signalled a return to some form with an unbeaten century against Zimbabwe in the second one-dayer earlier this month, Gibson said there was no room at present for Sarwan in the middle order.
"At the moment (for Sarwan) it's just about getting back and getting confident, for somebody like Sars who is full of experience and stuff like that," Gibson explained.
"If you look at the batting line up at the moment, the batting line up seems to be settled. We played five batsmen in Bangladesh and made a lot of runs.
"It's hard to fit him in but at the same time we know his quality and once he gets used to getting runs again in regional cricket and I would like to think that once there is a spot available, he would find himself in that spot."
"The Test series is very important for us because we have won the last four matches we have played and if we can win these two, we would have to go back to see the last time the West Indies won six Test matches in a row," said Gibson. "That is something we want to focus on and an achievement we would like to have after the Test series."
The results of the limited overs series attracted criticism from pundits, however, with several complaining that the Windies were hardly tested, and that the matches lacked a serious competitive edge. And with Zimbabwe starved of international action with just four Tests over the last two years, the Windies are expected to dominate again in the contests at Kensington Oval and Windsor Park in Dominica.
However, Gibson said it was crucial West Indies enjoy the good times like these, especially since they too knew what it was like to be dominated. "We simply look back to Australia when we (there) in January and trying hard to win but couldn't win because they were obviously superior. You have to take your tough moments like the Australia situation and then enjoy these situations," Gibson pointed out. "People will say that (beating Zimbabwe) is easy and if you get that mindset that it is easy, then you go and get rolled over and then the same people who are saying it should have been easy, are saying that you are not as good as you think you are."
He continued: "For us as a team it's to focus on the first session of the first Test match and take it from there step by and step and hope at the end of five days of hopefully good cricket, that we've won the Test match and that's all we can do."