Australia v West Indies first cricket Test: Jason Holder admits schedule not ideal

Thrashed by their second largest margin ever in Australia, Jason Holder’s West Indies have only a two-day practice match in Geelong to pick up the pieces, and the visiting captain admits that their schedule here is not ideal.

Unlike touring nations in years gone by most now arrive soon before their series with Australia begins, giving them only minimal time to acclimatise to conditions.

The West Indies had only the one warm-up match, against a youthful Cricket Australia XI who defeated them in Brisbane, and before the Boxing Day Test have only a two-day outing scheduled against a Victorian Invitation XI.

“The schedule has gone out already, it’s just a situation where we make the most of the two-day game we have,” Holder said. “That’s what we have, and apart from that we have the practice sessions in between. We just need to make the most of it. Perhaps we would have liked a three or four-day game, but it is what it is, it’s two days. We have to make the most of it.”

Holder said the tourists had to look towards the few standout performances from their players in Hobart – a century to Darren Bravo, and Kraigg Brathwaite’s 94 on Saturday being about the only shining lights – for inspiration in an effort to restore some respect in Melbourne.

Their problems coincide with discussions in the Caribbean about the dissolution of the structure of the West Indies Cricket Board, a recommended first step in trying to save West Indian cricket. Holder, however, said the players could not afford to be distracted by events at home. “I’m sure many cricket pundits and people around the world have many opinions, but my job is just to focus on cricket,” he said.

As if they needed any more drama there was confirmation on the third and final day in Hobart that West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was out of the tour with an ankle injury. “It is a big loss for us,” Holder said. “Shannon brings pace, he brings aggression and he looked pretty good in his first spell [on Thursday] especially, and also in his second spell. But I have full confidence in our replacements. We have Carlos Brathwaite [who is] yet to play a game, he’s no doubt a worthy replacement, and whoever comes from the Caribbean I’m sure will pick up the slack.”

Holder denied suggestions aired by commentator Tom Moody that his fast bowlers had refused to bowl into the wind from the river end of Blundstone Arena.

“Just to clarify the situation, I woke up this morning and saw some comments made about [Darren Bravo] having had a conversation with Tom Moody … about bowlers being reluctant to bowl from a particular end,” Holder said.

“That wasn’t the case. The case was, basically, the fast bowlers struggled coming into the wind and I just felt it easier to rotate them at the top end, coming down the slope. After losing Shannon, we were a bowler short, so it was easier to rotate the three fast bowlers from the top.”

The West Indies will train in Hobart on Sunday and Monday. The tour game in Geelong is on December 19 and 20.

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