Jermaine Blackwood's maiden ton helped West Indies reduce huge chunk of the deficit vs England © Getty Images
Jermaine Blackwood’s maiden ton helped West Indies reduce huge chunk of the deficit vs England © Getty Images

West Indies batsman Jermaine Blackwood has hailed the influence of the legendary Viv Richards and teammates Andre Russell and Chris Gayle following his maiden Test hundred against England in the first Test here. The 23-year-old, playing only his sixth Test, stroked a superb unbeaten 112 to help fire the West Indies up to 295 in their first innings, in reply to England’s 399 on the third day of the opening Test against England at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium on Wednesday, reports CMC. Jermaine Blackwood scores maiden Test century in West Indies vs England 1st Test at Antigua

He told reporters that Richards had always impressed on him the importance of combining patience with positive stroke-play. “I met Viv at the [High Performance Centre] last year and he’s been a very important person [in my career],” Blackwood said. Shivnarine Chanderpaul goes past Mahela Jayawardene in list of leading Test run-scorers

“He’s taught me a lot and I’ve really learned a lot from Viv. He’s always been talking to me about staying positive and always continuing to play the way I play but to be just a bit patient. He was always telling me to stay patient and positive at the same time,” he added England tour of West Indies 2015: Viv Richards feels Jermaine Blackwood is one to watch out for

Both these elements characterised Blackwood’s innings. He consumed 224 balls, stayed five and a half hours at the crease and slammed 14 fours and two sixes in a display of his aggression. He also praised Russell, describing him as a “big brother” who has always provided encouragement and inspiration. West Indies bowled out for 295 against England in 1st Test at Antigua

“Andre Russell is like my big brother. I’ve known him for about ten years now and I actually stay with Russell in Jamaica right now. I’m from Westmoreland but he’s from [Old Harbour] in St Catherine, and we actually live under the same roof, so he’s like a big brother to me,” Blackwood explained.

“Almost every day we train at home and I always put in the hard work. Me and Russell always talk about cricket and even this morning he sent me a voice note on my phone telling me to stay focussed and positive, bat for long, and make sure I get the century for him,” Blackwood added.

Blackwood, who made his Test debut against New Zealand last year in the Caribbean, said he was thrilled to finally reach three figures after making a few half-centuries in his short career. He also pointed out that Gayle, who like Russell is currently playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), had also given him plenty of support during the innings.

“It was a very special moment. I’ve been getting a lot of messages from my family and everybody back home, a lot of close friends, and they just wanted me to capitalise on the score that I had overnight and go on and make a big hundred. I have three half-centuries and to make a Test century is really a big [moment]. I am very happy. And Chris, Chris is like my father. I talk to Chris like almost every day and he was backing me all the way to make the hundred,” he explained.

Resuming the day on 30, Blackwood survived a dropped chance on 43, to reach his half-century, 75 minutes before lunch. He then had to negotiate a barrage of short-pitched bowling from England’s seamers, as they tried to dislodge him with aggression. The right-hander said he had been unfazed by the method of attack. “It’s Test cricket. I’m used to it. I’m from Jamaica (and) they are a lot of fast bowlers from Jamaica so I’m not afraid of any short balls,” he said nonchalantly.

“I would take one or two licks [blows] but after that the bowlers are going to get tired and that is the time I’m going to dominate.” England ended day three on 116 for three in their second innings – an overall lead of 220 runs

West Indies bowled out for 295 against England in 1st Test at Antigua