Antigua: West Indies skipper Jason Holder doesn't expect his young and inexperienced side to improve by leaps and bounds and said they are looking for a steady progression as they go into the four-Test series against India with confidence.
"The ultimate aim is to start performing well in Test cricket. We have got a young side, and we are looking to build something," said Holder ahead of the opening Test starting at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here today.
"In the last series we played in Australia, we didn't start really well. Moving on into the Test series, we got significantly better.
"All I stress and address with the guys is to keep improving. You can't expect leaps and bounds, too much from a very young side. Once we get the steady progression in terms of improvement, I think we'll move forward,"
Holder also stressed on the importance of fitness during a four-match Test series.
"In the recent past, we've played two-three Test matches in a series and this is the first time I am involved in a four-match series. It's really important that we manage our bodies as well as possible," he said.
"It's not going to be easy. But once you manage yourselves well, in between Test matches and on the field, you should get through quite well," he added.
The pitch here in St. John's has been the centre of attraction as there is a little grass left on it. It is a bit different from the slow wickets laid out for the two practice games in St. Kitts.
Holder said: "The wickets have died down significantly. If you look at the series in the recent past, you see a lot slow turning tracks. I remember the last time in Antigua, it was a pretty good wicket and it lasted all five days. If this wicket's anything similar to that, we can expect a really competitive game.
"Having said that, it's hard to predict what you get at certain places you go. I think it's just a matter of assessing whatever you get and make a decision there in terms of your selections and combinations," he added.
West Indies will be relying on a mix of experience in the form of Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo, while some of their younger players have already tasted the Indian bowling in St. Kitts.
"Experience goes a long way. In this side we have only got Marlon Samuels, who has played a few Test matches, Darren Bravo is probably the next highest capped West Indies Test player. We have to live as a family and help one another as best as we possibly can," Holder said.
"That's the only way we can move down the road from here. We don't have the luxury of that much experience in the squad. Everywhere we go there are legends of the game, in Antigua, in Jamaica, whatever information we can get from outside that is beneficial for the team."
Talking about some of the young West Indies cricketers, Holder said: "Most of these young guys have performed really well in the domestic competition. You've got young Royston Chase who's in the squad for the first time. He averages around 40 in First-Class cricket.
"You've got Shane Dowrich, who's been doing well over the last few seasons. Leon Johnson had a really good season. Those are just a few names who did well back in the domestic competitions. So I think, all of them are really eager for an opportunity and I'm very eager to go into the competition with them," he added.
The hosts will be wary of the threat posed by the Indian spinners. The visitors are expected to field all three spinners – R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra – and how the young West Indies' batsmen cope with them will set the tone for the remainder of the series.
"India rely on spin, but I need to see what is presented to us. You have to give Ashwin credit, as he's one of the leading spin bowlers in the world. Jadeja has done really well and Mishra's in pretty good form. India will be relying on them to take the majority of wickets, depending on who plays, but there is plenty of quality in the seam attack as well.
"You have Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is a threat, Mohd. Shami, and Ishant Sharma has a pretty good Test record as well. I just think we want to play cricket as it is and not play names. We stand a much better chance taking the psychological part of it out of it," Holder signed off.