London: West Indies coach Ottis Gibson was increasingly confident on Tuesday that the tourists would have a full squad to select from for the first Test against England at Lord's starting here on Thursday. Concerns have been raised about the fitness of fast bowlers Kemar Roach, who twisted his ankle in last week's final warm-up match, a 10-wicket defeat by the England Lions at Northampton, Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards.
But former West Indies seamer Gibson was confident the trio would all be fit for the first of a three-Test series. "Everybody pulled up okay today," Gibson said at Lord's on Tuesday. "Kemar twisted his ankle at Northants, he's been treated twice a day for the last couple of days. He had a little bowl today (Tuesday), bowled about six overs, pretty controlled, no complaints so at this stage he's doing okay.
"Ravi was just a twisted neck from sleeping badly or just staying up too late watching TV or playing playstation! He's fine and Fidel is fine also. Everything looks all set for Thursday." Gibson said that the fact West Indies captain Darren Sammy, a medium-pace bowling all-rounder, had not sent down a competitive delivery this tour was of no great concern to him.
"The captain bowled a lot of balls in the last series (at home to Australia) as did Kemar and the decision was made to give him a break. We are pretty clear what we are going to get from him." Gibson, a former England bowling coach who played for several English counties, said he had a simple message for his attack.
"The one message I've given to them, early season in England the only skill you really need to have is the skill of patience. You put the ball in the right area often enough in England at this time of year you will get some reward. It's just being patient and letting the ball do the work for you, rather than thinking you have to bowl magic balls."
West Indies were dismissed for just 147 in their first innings against the Lions but a side with a fledgling top order -- experienced opener Chris Gayle is currently playing in the Indian Premier League and only recently ended his stand-off with the West Indies Cricket Board -- made 390 second time around.
"They (the top order) were a little bit disappointed after the first innings and I had to step in and say 'you shouldn't be disappointed' because if we'd bowled first, in those conditions on the first day I believe we would have bowled them (the England Lions) out for a similar score," said Gibson.
"In the second innings, Kieran Powell played very well and got a hundred. Darren Bravo, who'd been playing well for us for the last year-and-a-half, he got two half centuries. The second innings was more like what we know we can do."
West Indies have won just two out of 30 Tests since beating England in Jamaica in 2009 but Shivnarine Chanderpaul is officially rated the world's best Test batsman. However, the experienced left-hander generally bats no higher than number five and it has been suggested he move up to bolster a faltering West Indies top order.
"It's something we've thought about," said Gibson. "Our batting revolves around Shiv, he's very comfortable in the position he's in at the moment and he's doing a good job for us. We've decided to leave it as it is at the moment but it's something we haven't completely ruled out."
And Gibson insisted Chanderpaul would have no qualms about such a move. "If it was a team decision, then I am sure he will be very happy with it."