By Ravendra Madholall in Toronto
Many cricketing fans have infinite expressions of saying West Indies should do this and they should not do that to avert a series loss against New Zealand, who have taken the lead much to the delight of their supporters.
The tourney is a three-match test series and 1-0 reads an equation of interest after the opening encounter ended in a stalemate as the tourists miraculously escaped a certain defeat owing to rain.
As much as the West Indies’ batting is the key, it is potentially an area of vulnerability. Another starling, inexplicable collapse of alarming proportion in the penultimate test after many would have been cognizant of their batting effort, and thanks to Darren Bravo.
The left-hander, who is a genuine promise in the lineup, was very selective with his shots and he ultimately registered a double-century with high class stroke-play in the first game. On the same pitch, the hosts were definitely overjoyed to see two of their own compiled hundreds with consummate ease.
Skipper Darren Sammy, who has typified his critics once again with an inept leadership in the second match, but remains an optimist and promised to deliver with a win in the third and final test, not only for himself but by greater extension to West Indies’ cricket lovers as the Holiday season looms.
Their loss in the second engagement by an innings and 53 runs demonstrated a rapid decline after they had shown greater commitment and dynamism in the first game.
The absence of Chris Gayle is very telling as the world knows his capability at the top and he could have been a force to reckon with especially against New Zealand, who he had scored a triple-century in the five-day format already.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul is a veteran and has been typically cool, calm and collective while Bravo showed support with timely runs but on an inconsistent basis.
What about the much-touted world-class middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels? He is an elegant right-hander from the Caribbean island of Jamaica and many still remember his stunning knock last year which propelled West Indies to the historic ICC T20 World Cup champion.
Not a big impression with bat, but there are expressions of him being poor and runs are dried up, an indication of his out-of-form patch but seemed to have regained the confidence and hopes of matching his skills of New Zealand’s confident bowling brigade under interminable scrutiny.
If Gayle created a hole at the top, Kirk Edwards and Kieran Powell have found it hard to fill the gap with any sort of tenacity and solidity. The opening combination persistently maintains a huge problem since the exit of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, two powerful openers from Barbados.
A left-hander who is still struggling to find consistency is Guyanese Narsingh Deonarine and he has failed to capitalize on the opportunity with the bat but his occasional off-spin can be an asset to keep him on a regular basis for this current tour.
There is a steady thought that these batsmen, with the exception of Chanderpaul, have technical faults and fundamentally the approach especially to the pacy men, is much a deeper worry.
Denesh Ramdin is among the failures and his batting has taken a sudden decline while Sammy’s place is unjustifiable in both departments of the game but he has shown grit and determination to succeed as a captain and an all-rounder.
We have seen improvement in the batting particularly in the first test and there was a burst of momentum and the guys predicted heavily of a triumph but inside three days, they were whipped like a stubborn school boy who is unwilling to submit his homework.
Head coach Otis Gibson was apparently angry with the results and ensured the harsh words resonated in the dressing room just after the defeat reached in the public domain.
According to report, there was ‘lacked of fight and embarrassed’, and no doubt this kind of expression will be taken into consideration by the selectors to alter the final team for the next game, which commences on Thursday at Hamilton.
He criticized the team for the poor result and probably after he was in state of optimism of carrying the game at least to the fifth day rather than succumbed on the third day, which further epitomized the weakness and unprofessionalism.
His bowlers distinctly failed to take twenty wickets and that also illustrated the lack of penetration from his fast-bowling armory and the highly expected off-spinner Shane Shillingford who was set to be the trump card on a pitch that behaved nicely for the duration of the match was also inaccurate.
Gibson, a former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler described the subtle bowling variation was missing from his main specialist Shillingford and they opted to go with the same team that featured in the first test.
He relied on the players and was full of confidence that they would have taken out lots of positives from the drawn confrontation.
It was a total disappointment for him and that may have evoked the accusation he made. He certainly lacked the effort to motivate his players, and many coaches have found that a challenging factor especially in this modernizing days of test cricket.
A limited-over series will be followed as soon as this test match is completed and with two of their essential batsmen in this version are missing again due to injuries, Dwayne Bravo and company should be in for a contest in all five fixtures and the batting is again will be up against the intimidating and energetic home team bowlers.
Gayle and hard-hitting Kieron Pollard are the men who would not make it to New Zealand.