West Indies head coach Phil Simmons said his side will have to step things up in the two-Test series against South Africa to prove that their performances in recent matches were not a fluke.
Simmons was thrilled that recent results against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had catapulted his side up the World Test rankings to sixth – putting them marginally ahead of the South Africans – but he felt this series will answer a lot of questions about the real progress they have made.
The first Test between the two sides starts on Thursday at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St. Lucia and the Windies will be looking to follow up on their 2-0 series sweep on the road in Bangladesh and a 0-0 home series result against Sri Lanka.
“It’s always going to be hard playing against South Africa because they have a quality team and we need to play better than we played in our last four Tests, no disrespect meant to the other teams against whom we have played,” he said.
“But we have to step it up and we have to move to 100 percent better than we were when we played our last game and keep getting better. We have gotten up to six and that is just a start of things. We want to be up at the top and we have to play as though we want to be there.”
Though winning the series against such a competitive opponent will be the ultimate goal for Simmons, there are other things he wants to see his side achieve during the series.
“The improvement I would like to see for this series is our ability to take 20 wickets we need to win Test matches consistently,” he said.
“We did in Bangladesh on helpful pitches and when the pitch was not the helpful in Antigua, we struggled. This pitch might be helpful, it might not, but we will see when Thursday comes.”
Simmons said though there was a lot of hype around the South Africa pace attack spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, he had a lot of confidence in his side’s pacers.
“Our fast bowling department has been strong for a (long time) now,” he said. “They are the ones that have kept us in matches, and bowling out teams at times, when it did not appear likely.
“That has been good and it’s still good and everyone looked sharp in the nets, so I think that will be a good side of our game from Thursday.,”
West Indies have won only three of the 28 Tests they have played against South Africa and they have never beaten the Proteas in a bilateral series since the visitors were readmitted to the international game 29 years ago.