They may be missing several of their leading players, have been beaten in the warm-up game, written-off in the media and up against the No. 1 rated Test team, but West Indies captain Darren Sammy has warned England not to underestimate his side's chance ahead of the Test series beginning at Lord's on Thursday.
West Indies' Test record in recent years is grim. They have won only one of their previous 10 series — and that was against Bangladesh — and only two of their last 24 series stretching back to 2004. Indeed, since December 2003, West Indies have played 80 Tests, won just eight — including two against Bangladesh — and lost 45. It is not a record that inspires confidence.
But Sammy believes his side is progressing. While he accepts the results do not show it, he insists there have been encouraging signs in recent Test series. Notably, West Indies pushed India hard in Delhi before collapsing against Ravi Ashwin in their second innings and succumbing to a five-wicket loss. Similarly, they came to close to upsetting Australia in Bridgetown, only for another second innings batting collapse to eventually sentence them to a three-wicket defeat.
"The only thing that has not been happening is the victories," Sammy told ESPNcricinfo. "We've been playing good, competitive cricket against strong sides like India and Australia and all our Tests have been going five days and down to the wire. Not many teams go to India and give India a run for their money, but we did that.
"Coming from where we are right now, we are not going to start winning straight away. We are taking baby steps to the ultimate goal. We are playing well and dominating teams throughout matches.
"The problem is that we keep losing key moments in matches. One bad session keeps costing us. Champion teams seize the moment but we keep having a bad session where we might lose five wickets in an hour. We just need to cut that out. Once we eliminate those bad sessions then we'll make progress."
Sammy also reminded England that the sides did not have to look back very far to the last team his side caused an upset. A young West Indies squad travelled to England to play two T20 internationals last September and, having lost the first game by 10 wickets, they hit back with a 25-run win to square the series. West Indies also won the last Test series between the sides in the Caribbean.
"We were a very inexperienced team in September," Sammy said. "People said we were just on our way to Bangladesh, but we beat England.
"Every team that comes here, the media try and bring them down for England. So we know what to expect. We have to handle the distractions — be they the weather or the press — and concentrate on doing our best on the pitch. People don't expect much from us, but we know that once we play to our potential we can compete very hard against England. If we can put runs on the board, we back our bowlers to take 20 wickets against England."