Williams can stake his claim

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The Independent Online
Just as Graeme Hick did yesterday, there are a few West Indies batsmen who now have the chance to assert themselves in this Test.

Conditions could not be better for them. The pitch is flat and lifeless and, if Mike Watkinson made the ball turn sharply in the closing stages yesterday, there is such a lack of pace that adjustment should not be difficult.

Because of injuries to Carl Hooper and Jimmy Adams the interrupted careers of Stuart Williams and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have been revived.

With the search for an established opening pair still unsolved, Williams could claim back the position with a significant innings here.

For the sake of the balance of the team, Hooper has been converted into an opener. It is not an arrangement that has yet proved a success and the selectors will be keen to go back to a specialist in the position.

Williams was given the kind of extended run West Indies have been inclined to offer most of their young players, and a disciplined 48 spanning three hours on an atrocious turning pitch, against India in Bombay in November, seemed to suggest he had the necessary temperament and technique.

It proved premature optimism. In nine subsequent Tests he failed to reach 50 in any innings but has been given the chance to re-assert himself on this tour and now it is up to him to make the most of it.

Chanderpaul has been out of the team even longer than Williams, although his record is completely the opposite (an average of 61 in his previous seven Tests). He has not played since scoring 61 and 69 not out in his only two innings in New Zealand in February, and with the natural hunger of a 20-year-old and the concentration of someone far more mature he will appreciate the circumstances here.

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