Don’t underestimate West Indies at home: Former coach Stuart Law warns England

Law was in-charge when Windies stunned England to win the second Test at Headingley two years ago.

Don’t underestimate West Indies at home: Former coach Stuart Law warns England
Updated: January 17, 2019 1:12 AM IST | Edited By: Noel D'Souza

Former West Indies coach Stuart Law. @ AFP

Former West Indies coach Stuart Law believes England could come unstuck during their upcoming Test series in the Caribbean if they "underestimate" their hosts.

Law accepts England, now third in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings to the West Indies' eighth, will be "red-hot favourites" to win a three-match series that starts next week in Barbados.

Now, the coach of English county side Middlesex, having stepped down from his West Indies post in part to spend more time with his UK-based wife and son, Law was in charge when the tourists stunned England to win the second Test at Headingley two years ago soon after being thrashed inside three days at Edgbaston in the inaugural day/night Test in Britain.

"Don't underestimate the home team," said Law on Wednesday.

"A lot of that group played in that Test match at Headingley, so if England aren't on their game, West Indies have got the team to make an upset." (ALSO READ: Olly Stone sent for scan on back injury, doubtful for Windies tour)

The 50-year-old former Australia batsman added: "It should be reasonably comfortable for England on paper but out on the ground, there s a few guys there with a point to prove and opportunities to cement a place for a long time in the West Indies set-up, so I wouldn't discount them."

In 2017, West Indies batsman Shai Hope became the first cricketer to score hundred in both innings of a first-class match at Headingley with team-mate Kraigg Brathwaite just five runs short of achieveing the same feat as the tourists won by five wickets on England captain Joe Root's Yorkshire home ground.

Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder, still the West Indies captain, impressed with the ball.

Victory saw the West Indies level a three-match series at 1-1, a matter of days after an innings and 209 run hammering by Root's men in Birmingham.

England won the third Test at Lord's by nine wickets to complete a 2-1 series win but the West Indies had defied many pundits' predictions by avoiding a whitewash.

"I think the euphoria of a first Test win in England for 17 years was something I think that's still celebrated in the Caribbean," recalled Law. (ALSO READ: Rory Burns chasing breakthrough Test innings as career takes shape)

"But some of the kids who stuck their hand up in that match, they really gained a lot. Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel those guys bowled their hearts out."

There were just four days between the end of West Indies' embarrassing display at Edgbaston and the start of their Headingley triumph, with Law insisting he hadn't done a lot to revive their spirits.

"I didn t have to say much," he recalled. "We sat down in the dressing room on day five , the Test match had ended on day three, day two really.

"They (the players) just had it out, they had a meeting. They all gave a very honest account of where they were during that Test match. (ALSO READ: England's chances at World Cup are pretty high: Jonathan Trott)

"They got abuse from back home you should have read some of the social media posts. It was tough for them.

"I didn't have to say too much, point them in the right direction, tell them you can either go one of two ways -- 'we can lose the series 3-0 or we can stand up and fight. What do you want to do?' And fight they did."