A young West Indies team heads into their first Test in Perth this week without a win on Australian soil for 25 years, but top seed Pat Cummins insists they will not take the tourists seriously.
The Caribbean team won by 10 wickets in 1997 on the back of a fantastic century from Brian Lara, coincidentally in Perth, but have not won a Test in Australia since.
Lara will return this week as commentator, calling the West Indies into action.
Lara told the Herald Sun ahead of the two-match series, which moves to Adelaide next week for the day and night test.
“Get the games for five days. You never know. I have in the back of my mind the idea that these guys are ready to fight.”
Skipper Kraigg Brathwaite said they were not focused on past results.
“Obviously the past history shows it’s been a long time since we’ve had victories in Australia and others, but we’re focused on our goals,” he said.
“What’s a big focus is we have 10 days of Test cricket, and we want to play 10 days of Test cricket well.
“We just want to make the people of the Caribbean proud.”
Brathwaite is set as the new opening partner for the match starting Wednesday in Tagenarine Chanderpaul from exciting left, son of retired batting great Shivnarine.
He was first called up to the squad after John Campbell, who opened for Brathwaite against Bangladesh in June, was handed a four-year ban for violating an anti-doping rule.
Chanderpaul showed his mettle in a warm-up match against a Premier’s XI in Canberra, scoring 119 and 56.
Alzari Joseph, Kemar Roach, Jayden Sales, and seasoned Jason Holder lead a dangerous rush attack, with Lara pointing to Joseph as a key threat.
“I think Joseph is going to be special, and Australia will know a lot more about him by the end of the series,” he said of the 26-year-old.
Despite their poor record in Australia, the West Indies will gain confidence from winning both Test series played this year – against England and Bangladesh at home.
But they will have to be at their best to upset a star-studded Australian side, who lead the Test rankings ahead of India, with the West Indies only eighth.
The main threat may come from Steve Smith, who returned to a more conventional batting style that saw him score unbeaten 94 and 80 in Australia’s final one-day series against England.
Former captain Greg Chappelle predicted at the weekend that Smith would “make a mountain of runs this summer”.
Brathwaite and his team will also need to tame one of the most powerful attacks in the world, led by Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, as well as deal with Nathan Lyon’s spin.
Starc is just 13 wickets away from the 300 mark with Perth’s pace-friendly conditions set up for the left-arm assist.
He is looking forward to “a good bat-and-ball contest”, and said the West Indies should not be underestimated, noting their home Test victory over England in March.
“She certainly doesn’t take any teams too seriously. We know what the West Indies can offer at their best.”
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (Captain), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnos Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Mitchell Stark, David Warner.
West Indies squad: Craig Brathwaite (Captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Shamar Brooks, Taginarin Chanderpaul, Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva), Jason Holder, Alzari Joseph, Kyle Myers, Anderson Phillip, Raymond River, Kemar Roach, Jaden Seales, Devon Thomas