Atherton predicts close series

Job Nelson, Staff Reporter

January 9, 1998

CRICKET: England's cricketers arrived in the island yesterday, confident they will finally conquer the West Indies in the Caribbean after 30 years of constant battering by the regional players that has left them wandering in a cricketing wilderness.

However, they are also very cautious about a West Indies team that has also been clobbered in recent series and has changed its captain to lift the sub-standard performances.

Captain Michael Atherton and coach David Lloyd preferred not to mingle in West Indies' ``business'' but instead focus their attention on the upcoming series which they feel will be very tough and hard fought.

``The team that travels here this time around can't be held responsible for the past 30 years,'' Atherton said yesterday.

``I think we are all aware of the fact that we have not beaten the West Indies in the Caribbean for a long time.

``There are two ways to approaching that. The record will either intimidate us or we will use it as an immense challenge and that is the way that we are viewing it. This whole squad can see a huge opportunity to be the first team to win in the Caribbean for a long time.

``The recent Test series between England and the West Indies have all being hard fought and I expect that trend to continue. I think it will be a close series and the team that starts well, the team that wins the tough sessions, will come out on top,'' the England skipper said.

``The captain issue is one for the West Indies to resolve. We have no focus on that and we have no real reaction to it. That's a situation and a position for the West Indies team and the West Indies Board. We will have to play which ever team and captain the West Indies choose to put up against us.''

The West Indies Board on Tuesday changed the captain from Courtney Walsh to Brian Lara after the recent Test failure in Pakistan where the West Indies lost 3-0 to the host country in the first whitewash for the West Indies in 69 years and second overall. They were also defeated 3-0 by Pakistan in the one-dayers.

That followed on the 3-2 defeat to Australia last year in Australia and before that another loss to the same country in the West Indies.

Lloyd, like Atherton, would not talk about how the change of captain would affect the West Indies' performance.

``We have no control over what West Indies do,'' Lloyd said.

``They will make their decision and we will get on with our side of things. I am sure that we will know Courtney as an opening bowler for West Indies and Gloucestershire and a terrific man. And when we come across Brian Lara, he's been quite a thorn in our side. He spends a lot of time at the crease at our expense: so they are two top players.''

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:03