Thursday 5th June, 2003


Roger Harper calls for lively pitches for Sri Lanka series

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The Caribbean Media Corporation

Former West Indies coach Roger Harper is calling for lively pitches during the forthcoming Cable & Wireless series to encourage the West Indies seamers against Sri Lanka.

Harper, who coached West Indies for three years until the 2003 World Cup in March, believes pitch preparation will be a key factor in the series, since Sri Lankan ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan will flourish on flat surfaces.

“I would like to see us quicken up our pitches here and really give our

seam bowlers some assistance, because Muralitharan on a flat pitch is going to be a dangerous bowler,” Harper said during CMC’s CricketPlus Lunch-Time Show on Sunday.

Harper, currently doing duties as Head Coach at the 2003 Shell Cricket Academy, said more bouncy pitches would benefit the West Indies take away a clear advantage the visitors would have on docile tracks.

“Our bowlers would not be that threatening on a flat pitch.

“I think if we prepare some lively pitches it will even things out a bit, it may not give Muralitharan that much assistance, help our bowlers, and I think that will enable us to do a lot better,” Harper said.

Wisden, widely regarded as the bible of cricket publications, recently rated Muralithiran the greatest Test bowler of all time.

The West Indies face Sri Lanka in three One-day International (ODI) matches — starting this weekend with back-to-back games in Barbados — and two Test matches.

Harper said the Sri Lankans are tough and should not be underestimated.

“I think it’s going to be a very tough series and I think it’s important that we remain very focused,” he said.

Harper hinted that the West Indies, fresh from facing the world's best team Australia, should guard against any fade in intensity against the Sri Lankans.

“I certainly think that coming on the back of the Australian series, it was a long, long season, that we have to be sharp, we have to be fully focused.

“We can’t afford to underrate the Sri Lankan team at all,” said the 40-year-old Guyanese.

Harper, who played 25 Tests and 105 ODIs for the West Indies from 1983 to 1996, added that the West Indies are capable of defeating Sri Lanka if they play to their full potential.

“If we play as well as we are capable of playing, we should be able to handle them, but I think we need to give the bowlers every opportunity to get the job done by putting some life in the pitches,” he said.

The West Indies lost both Test (1-3) and ODI (3-4) fixtures against the Australians but finished the two series with magnificent wins.

They go into the ODIs against Sri Lanka, coming off three consecutive victories over the Australians, snapping a world record 21-game winning streak by the World Cup holders.

©2003-2004 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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