A THORNY ISSUE: Windies were too submissive
PAR for the course.
That’s how I would rate the West Indies performance in the Test series against England.
It actually matches the assessment of coach Ottis Gibson before the series when he said he expected the team to do better in the limited over matches.
Even if again I didn’t think he should have gone public in making that concession, at least you can’t kill him for being honest with himself and the players.
After all, he knew they were up against the No.1 team in the world; the batting was suspect and the English probably possess the best seam attack around and playing at home to boot.
And while there was some merit to it, considering that the West Indies are rated No.7 in world cricket, the English treated the series as a warm-up for their forthcoming duel with the much stronger South Africa. The fact that they rested their two leading fast bowlers in the last Test either showed the contempt with which they hold the West Indies or that they are not a ruthless side who should have been eyeing a whitewash.
They set the agenda and by and large stuck to it. On most occasions the West Indies were submissive. The ineptness of our top order was cruelly exposed by James Anderson and Stuart Broad and but for the tigerish resistance of the world’s No.1 ranked batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and the inform Marlon Samuels we could have lost the first two Tests by wider margins.
The openers Adrian Barath and Keiron Powell never looked assured; Kirk Edwards couldn’t buy a run and the gifted Darren Bravo got a couple starts but couldn’t go on.
It would be remiss not to mention captain Darren Sammy’s maiden Test century in the second Test which he made in partnership with Samuels with the team’s back against the wall.
If there was ever a player who needed an innings of such substance it was the skipper, who was still under loads of fire from his critics in respect of his ability to bat well and take wickets consistently to justify his place in the side as captain.
Wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin found some late redemption with a century in the last Test but I would have to agree with Sir Vivian Richards’ earlier critique that he didn’t look the part with the bat. That ton, however, would have boosted his confidence ahead of the One Day Internationals.
There has been incremental improvement in the West Indies bowling in the past two years and you wonder if this is so because coach Gibson’s forte lies in this area.
Surely though Kemar Roach looks to be on the threshold of becoming a world class pacer despite his no-ball problems; a fully fit Fidel Edwards can still be menacing; Ravi Rampaul keeps batsmen on the alert and there’s good back-up ammunition at the moment with the likes of Tino Best and Shannon Gabriel.
We have to credit Best for the enthusiasm he brings to the side and commend him for the innings he played in the last Test.
I would like to see the selectors make a deliberate effort to encourage the spin bowlers. I thought it was poor judgement to leave Shane Shillingford out of the first Test at Lord’s after a very successful showing against Australia in the Caribbean.
I must say I continue to be impressed by Sammy’s inspired leadership and there are definite signs that he is working harder to improve his batting, but more importantly, I believe he is reaching the stage where he is earning the full respect of his players.
This brings us to the return of talismanic opener Chris Gayle to the team for the One Day series.I know Gayle was very outspoken in his comments about Sammy and Gibson after last year’s World Cup but now those matters have been resolved, I expect nothing less than a 100 per cent support for his leader.
He must fall in line and join the ranks to keep the flag flying high.
I am not suggesting that the administration of West Indies cricket is the best but at times we get the impression that some players, too, forget where they started and who provided the opportunity for them to develop.
Total commitment to the cause from all could see the West Indies winning the ODI series.
• Andi Thornhill is an award-winning freelance sports journalist.