St. George’s (Grenada), April 20:
Opener Devon Smith says batting out the entire last day to save the first Test has further strengthened the West Indies’ self belief that they can compete against England in the ongoing three-Test series.
The Caribbean side were given little chance prior to the beginning of the series against an England unit ranked five places higher at number three of the Test rankings, with incoming England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves even labelling them as “mediocre”, reports CMC.
Set 438 to win the first Test in Antigua last week, however, the West Indies produced a sterling performance to pull off a draw, after starting the final day on 98 for two.
“The guys are looking forward to the second Test. To bat a whole day and save a Test match is amazing,” Smith told reporters here on Sunday.
“A lot of fans expected us to lose but having said that, the guys went out there and believed themselves and performed to the best of their ability and came up with a draw.
“Sometimes it’s good to be the underdogs because you have nothing to lose but something to prove. So we have no pressure on us, it’s England who has the pressure. They said in the press they would win the series 3-0,” he added.
“It motivates not just me but the whole team to go out there and prove them wrong in what they’ve said. You just have to go out there and perform to the best of our ability.”
Smith played a key role in the first Test result, scoring 65 in a critical 83-run second wicket stand with Darren Bravo (32) late on the penultimate day.
The 33-year-old left-hander, whose 37-Test career has been a chequered one, said he was now coming into his own and was more sorted mentally.
“I think sometimes before I used to put myself under unnecessary pressure wondering about getting dropped. Now it’s different, I just go out there and express myself,” Smith noted.
Once he is selected for the second Test which begins here Tuesday, Smith will become the first Grenadian to play a Test before his home crowd, an honour he is looking forward to.
“It will be a dream come true because I know my whole family will be here to support me and I hope they will be here even before the first ball is bowled. At least that will motivate me to go forward and do great things,” he said.
With only two Tests ever played at the Grenada National Stadium, there is some apprehension about what the pitch will serve up but Smith said that he believed it would be one where both bowlers and batsmen could thrive.
“I think it’s a good wicket to bat on. On the fourth and fifth day the ball may turn a little bit but having said that I think it is a great wicket to bat on as long as you apply yourself and concentrate on what you have to do, you’re going to get results,” he pointed out.
“You’ll have to work hard for your wickets. As long as you put something in you’re going to get some results. If you bowl well you will get wickets and if you bat good you will get runs.” (IANS)