Stuart Law urges West Indies to ignore ‘pathetic’ talk

“I believe in these young men,” the coach says ahead of the second Wisden Trophy Test at Headingley.

The West Indies team at a practice session at Headingley.   -  Getty Images

Stuart Law has urged the West Indies to ignore its critics and follow diminutive batsman Jermaine Blackwood's example as it looks to bounce back in the second Test against England at Headingley.

Friday’s match comes less than a week since West Indies coach Law saw his side suffer a crushing innings and 209-run defeat in the series opener at Edgbaston as the inaugural day-night Test in England ended inside three days. That led West Indies fast-bowling great Curtly Ambrose to label the current side "pathetic."

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Law was saddened that Ambrose, until recently the West Indies' bowling coach, had vented his criticism in a British newspaper rather than directly to the players. "Curtly not long ago was the coach of this team so it is disappointing that criticism comes," said Law. "We have to understand why it is there. We are not performing as well as we want. What can we do? We have to get our noses down, our backsides up and play better. I believe in these young men. They have got high skills. It is just the experience of learning how to play in a very tough environment."

‘Infectious attitude’

West Indies arrived in England without several senior players, the consequence of a bitter dispute with its own board and a clash with the lucrative Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament, although relations are improving to the extent that Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels have been selected for the subsequent one-day series in England.

Meanwhile, Law was encouraged by the fighting performance of Blackwood, whose 79 not out in the first innings at Edgbaston was a rare West Indies highlight of a closing Saturday where it lost 19 wickets in total. "He showed a beautiful solid defence and hit the bad ball away, we can't ask [for] much more," Law said. "He is only 5ft 2in but he walks around like he is 10 foot tall and that is the sort of attitude that really warms my heart," the former Australia batsman added. "Hopefully it is infectious in the group."

Law indicated he would give the XI that played at Edgbaston a chance to redeem themselves, even though fast bowler Shannon Gabriel is now fit for selection.

England, however, has made one change with captain Joe Root confirming on Thursday that Chris Woakes had replaced Toby Roland-Jones. Middlesex paceman Roland-Jones made his Test debut earlier this season against South Africa after Woakes was ruled out with a side strain suffered during England's Champions Trophy opener against Bangladesh at The Oval in June.

Woakes, who on form is a better batsman than Roland-Jones, is set to act as a 'support seamer' behind James Anderson and Stuart Broad. His recall was the only change to the England team that played at Edgbaston where Alastair Cook's double-century and a hundred from England captain Joe Root established a commanding position cemented by Anderson and Broad.

But Jonny Bairstow, the wicket-keeper-batsman, insisted there was no danger of complacency setting in as England seeks a fourth consecutive Test match win after a 3-1 success against South Africa.

‘Get a result’

"We'll go about it in the same way that we've gone about the South Africa series and the first Test," said Bairstow, who like Root will be playing on his Yorkshire home ground. "It's not about putting on a show, it's about getting a result."

Bairstow, who made 140 against Sri Lanka in last year's Test at Headingley, said conditions in Leeds would help ensure England did not get ahead of itself. "If you get through those difficult periods - if it's a bit cloudy and it's nipping or swinging - then it's a fantastic place to bat. But if you don't respect the conditions, then it can be difficult," the 27-year-old added.

Bairstow also forecast a much-improved showing from Law's men. "We're expecting the West Indies to come back at us pretty hard after Edgbaston," he said.