Windies Poised to Turn to Narine
West Indies will unleash a unique talent on England if, as expected, mystery spinner Sunil Narine makes his Test debut at Edgbaston tomorrow.
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Captain Darren Sammy confirmed that Narine is likely to be selected as the Windies bid to avoid a 3-0 Investec series whitewash.
Expectations are great of the impact the 24-year-old may make at the highest level, thanks to his exploits so far in just a handful of first-class matches and in the high-profile Indian Premier League.
It is hard to recall a potential Test debutant - save perhaps England's Kevin Pietersen, and before him Graeme Hick - being the subject of quite the hype which surrounds Narine.
His ability to complement conventional off-spin with a disguised delivery which turns away from the right-hander make him an enticing prospect for all but the batsmen who must face him.
England, meanwhile, can hardly profess confidence about handling Narine after their hapless performances against Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal - a bowler of similar ilk, albeit in very different conditions - in the United Arab Emirates last winter.
"He has got every chance of playing," Sammy said of Narine, absent from the first two Tests but shipped in following his IPL stint for Kolkata as injuries mounted for the Windies.
"Everyone is calling him the mystery spinner, and he could come in and make an impact for us.
"It's a difficult place for spinners to make their debut. But he has a lot up his sleeve, and we're backing him to make an impact.
"He has five-wicket hauls in seven or so first-class games he has played this year and he is a good inclusion in the squad for us.
"We hope this is the start of something that could be a great Test career."
Sammy himself remembers dealing with the threat of Narine on a personal level, when the pair met in domestic cricket.
"He opened the bowling, and he got 10 wickets in the match. But I got 88 in that match as well," he said.
"He's very exciting, and all of the Caribbean are very excited about having him in international cricket.
"We're very happy to have him here."
The Windies, losers by five wickets at Lord's and then nine at Trent Bridge last week, are considering deploying Narine in a five-man attack - reasoning they can take a chance on Marlon Samuels continuing his outstanding form with the bat.
"Marlon is doing a very good job for us at number six," added Sammy.
"We have considered playing five bowlers - but we will see what happens tomorrow."
Whatever the fine-tuning, the bottom line for the tourists is that they need greater resilience if they are to properly test the world number one team at last.
"We need to compete longer," said the captain.
"If you look at Test matches for the last year and a half, we have a bad hour or session that takes us out of the game.
"We play four-day cricket at home, and sometimes they finish in two and a half or three days. So I guess our concentration span is not as long."
Forecast rain on Thursday may indeed make for a shorter contest, and Sammy senses another favourable factor for his team in the absence of rested fast bowler James Anderson from the opposition ranks.
"So far it has been very tough on the top order, so we hope that is a psychological edge for our openers not having to face Jimmy," he said.
"But we're coming up against a strong attack - and as a batting group, we have to handle that."