West Indies will not be able to match hosts Australia by playing two spinners in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground after Devendra Bishoo was ruled out of the dead rubber contest by a shoulder injury on Saturday.
Leg-spinner Bishoo, who took 6-80 against the Australians in the Caribbean last year, had been in the frame for a recall to work in tandem with inexperienced left-arm orthodox bowler Jomel Warrican.
Team officials said an injury to the 30-year-old Guyanan’s left rotator cuff he sustained before the second Test in Melbourne would prevent him playing on a track that Australia expect to provide plenty of turn for their spinners Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe.
“I’ve seen they’ve gone with two spinners, we’ve been accustomed to spin-bowling in the Caribbean and hopefully our batsmen can get into that a lot better than we have in this series,” captain Jason Holder told reporters at the SCG on the eve of the opening day of the match.
“We’re down to one spinner with the injury to Bishoo so we just have to work with what we have. I’m sure Kraigg Brathwaite will come to the fore and bowl a bit more.”
Brathwaite offers occasional off breaks in addition to his opening batting but neither looks likely to redress the balance between the two sides after two thoroughly one-sided matches in the series so far.
While the batsmen showed more resistance in the 177-run loss in Melbourne last week than they had in the innings and 212-run defeat with which they opened the series in Hobart, the West Indies bowling has remained largely ineffective.
A tally of 10 wickets taken over two test matches offered not even a distant echo of the days when the likes of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose struck fear in the hearts of batsmen.
All-rounder Holder must take his share of the blame for that but it would take a hard heart not to feel some sympathy for a man thrown into the Test captaincy at the age of 23 last year.
To the tall Barbadian falls the task of explaining away the miserable state of West Indies Test cricket, everything from the chaotic administration to, on Saturday, his own field placings.
“Our bowlers have to control the game,” he said, with perhaps a little frustration penetrating his usual calm.
“I can only set fields to what we’re producing and we haven’t been at our best so far.
“We’ve leaked runs both sides of the wickets. We’ve instilled in our bowlers to be a lot more disciplined, I’ve spoken about it from the start.
“We’re still not at the level at which we should be. If we can be disciplined for longer periods of time, then you will see the field is adequate for that.”