School vacation? Have fun, but bring out the storybooks!
July 15, 2018
Symbol of authority in the call to serve
July 15, 2018

The advancing West Indies

West Indies (WI) cricket team was a huge disappointment in the third Test match against Sri Lanka (SL) played at the Kensington Oval in Barbados from June 23 to 27.

After leading the three-game series one game to nil they crumbled in the third Test to lose by four wickets; and while this does not look so bad on paper it is devastating on many fronts.

WI needed to win this series to make serious inroads into the point deficit that is keeping them away from the top teams. SL lies ahead of them at sixth place while the West Indians are at ninth.

It must be remembered that the Caribbean cricketers did not qualify to play in the Cricket World Cup in 2019 because of their position in the ratings and had to play through a humiliating tournament with associate member teams consisting of mainly amateurs, newly appointed Test teams and others that could only be classified as minnows.

After winning the first Test handsomely at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, it seemed that WI would dominate in the next two Tests given the answer by the pitch curators to prepare true fast pitches for the games.

In the second Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground, St Lucia, WI allowed the game to slip out of their hands and came away with a draw, although the Sri Lankans wasted two hours not returning to the field to continue play on the third day because they were accused of ball tampering by the umpires who changed the ball.

The captain was found guilty for the tampering and the management i.e. the manager and coach were responsible for the team not taking the field when they should have. So, although some may say that WI got away from defeat, the Sri Lankans did not deserve to win through their highly questionable tactics.

However, in the third Test after leading by 50 runs in the first innings, WI went on to bat horribly in their second innings collapsing to 154 all out. The pitch was blameless, granting there was movement off the seam and it contained generous bounce; in other words, it suited WI far more than the Sri Lankans and that is called home advantage!

The home team ought to have won these matches. WI had the series on a platter and they tossed it out and ended with a tie for the series. They would also have gained more points for defeating a team that is three places above them on the world Test standings.  That opportunity was given away too easily.

On another note, it was good to see the WI fast bowlers rising to the occasion and reaping a harvest of wickets proving what they could do on faster pitches with some grass to assist lateral movement. Conversely, the batsmen seemed to falter under the same conditions.

Shane Dowrich enjoyed a bountiful series scoring lots of runs, assisted by the captain Jason Holder and, to a lesser extent Devendra Bishoo, but the top order, the ones on whom the team depends to score prodigiously for the bowlers to have the advantage to use aggressive and attacking strategies to bowl out teams twice to win Test matches, did not click! WI allowed this one to get away limiting their options to advance gradually on the leaders.

Bangladesh tour

The other international cricketers for 2018 to the Caribbean shores are the Bangladeshis. This is the nation that lies just above us in the standings. They are eighth to WI ninth. Beating them would not bring a deluge of points because of their position on the table but it could mean advancing on them with a series win.

No need crying over spilt milk but it would have been such a fillip to win against the Lankans, which they should have, and then beat Bangladesh. Maybe, from what I understand, we would have moved into number eight and with that added confidence, plus the feeling of being winners, more advancement was on the cards.

The first Test against Bangladesh was played July 4–8 at the Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua. The plan, (started in Trinidad in the first Test vs Sri Lanka) of fast, bouncy wickets, was maintained and the West Indians made minced meat of the Bangladeshis!

Bundling them out for just 43 in the first innings, replying with 406, the hapless visitors just could not cope with the pace in the second innings, capitulating for 144 with just one batsman who was in at number 8, Nurul Hasan, managing a decent score of 64, removing the shame of being dismissed under a 100 for the second time in the game.

The Asians have one Test remaining in the two-Test series. This takes place in Jamaica July 12–16 and one can only guess whether the curator at the Sabina Park ground will follow the lead of his colleagues in the eastern and southern Caribbean and maintain a fast, bouncy pitch. WI must go all out to win two–nil in order to advance.