Kyle Jarvis has seen a lot of West Indies batsmen in the first Test, but in 38 overs of hard yakka he has managed to take just three wickets in his comeback match. The plan for Zimbabwe had always been to prepare a pitch that would help spin rather than seam, Jarvis explained after the third day in Bulawayo, and he credited the patience of West Indies batsmen in setting up their commanding second-innings total.
“It wasn’t easy out there,” Jarvis said. “The plan going into the game was to take seam out of the picture, with Roach and Gabriel and Holder playing. We did our best to get the ball to reverse, which it did a little bit. But nothing off the pitch really, just dead straight.”
Kraigg Brathwaite set the early tone for West Indies with his 229-ball 86, before Roston Chase took advantage of the platform to score an unbeaten 91. Their knocks were part of a combined West Indies effort that has all but batted Zimbabwe out of the game.
“They kept it really simple,” Jarvis said. “They didn’t play many sweeps or reverse sweeps. They didn’t run down much. They waited for the bad ball and they put it away. They got 370 and pressed on right at the end, but they had been going at two and a half [runs an over] for most of the day. They’ve just been really patient. Chase played really well, and the way Brathwaite went about his business, facing 230 balls was good. They gave themselves a chance, which is what we should have done in our first innings.”
The Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo may be a long, long way from Old Trafford, but Jarvis suggested that the biggest adjustment for him during a return to international cricket after a four-year gap was switching back to the Kookaburra ball.
“Old Trafford is a dry pitch,” he said. “It has a little more pace in it than this one though. The biggest adjustment has been the ball. I’ve been using the Dukes for the last four years, and using a Kookaburra now. The Kookaburra is a lot softer, you get a little bit less bounce. The Dukes stays harder for longer, which makes it an easier ball to bowl with as a seamer. The ball has been the biggest difference – your lines and lengths are pretty similar.”
With two days still remaining in this Test, and Zimbabwe 429 runs in arrears, Jarvis suggested a draw might now be the most the hosts could hope for. “Looking at record scores, I think the highest score is 418 by any team, so I think it will take an unbelievable effort to do something like that. The pressure of batting in the last innings is going to be tough, so it will take something really special to bat out maybe five sessions, which is what I think they’re going to give us.
“Everyone knows it’s going to be tough, but you can’t go out there and be negative and hand the game over. We’ll have to play as well as we possibly can, but you never know. Cricket is a funny game. If they bat for another session, we have to bat out five sessions. I think best case is that we could get a draw out of this game. Scoring 450 is a bit unrealistic, but you never know if we can bat five sessions.”