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Chance for WI to come good
A good effort to have fought India, ranked third amongst the Test-playing nations, for the better part of four days, but once again the West Indies batsmen demonstrated an endemic weakness of not being able to mentally apply themselves. With a lead of 95 runs on first innings, having made 304 in their first turn at the crease, the West Indies batmen fell apart for an inadequate 180 in the second innings, setting the Indians the relatively easy task of scoring 276 to win instead of a total approaching 400. In the process, the WI lost whatever psychological and actual advantage they had gained from the first innings. The result was that the first five to six Indian batsmen, amongst the most experienced and skillful in today’s game, were able to comfortably reach the target, even if they lost five wickets in the process. Over the last 15 years it has been difficult to understand how a Test-playing “nation” that has produced a handful of the top ten of the greatest batsmen who ever played the game could now find it difficult to have players lacking the capacity to come to terms with what is required to make big scores.
Admittedly, this is a team with a number of young players now seeking to find their way in the demanding world of Test cricket. Nonetheless, to have teams of batsmen consistently failing to be able to apply themselves and to build innings worthy of Test cricket is inexcusable. Moreover, it was clearly not a question of demon bowling on a wearing wicket, but rather undisciplined batting and the lack of a vision in the minds of the batsmen as to the overall picture of what was to be achieved. Instead, all the batsmen barring one, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, seemed incapable of seeing the larger picture and batting as if their lives depended on them achieving the overall objective of setting the Indian team a formidable target to chase. But hopefully, the young team of batsmen will use the experience of the first Test as a lesson to be guided by. In their favour is their having someone of the experience and calibre of Desmond Haynes in the dressing room and at practice sessions to lend his knowledge and great skills to their learning process.
The challenge for Haynes, who as we know was half of one of the greatest pairs of opening batsmen in the history of the game, is to get into the heads of the young players.
On the field, the young players have in Shiv Chanderpaul the most resolute and single-minded West Indian batsmen of modern times, some would say of all times. And from observation Chanders can be seen to be lending advice to his young batting partners out in the middle. The likes of Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, especially, have to demonstrate the capacity and the inclination to batting with skill (which they clearly have) and determination to encourage and establish models for the less experienced players to adopt. The captain of a WI team is always subject to extraordinary scrutiny, more so when he happens to be someone such as Darren Sammy, a player without the dazzling batting and bowling credentials of his predecessors.
Nonetheless, for all his shortcomings in the skills department, the much-criticised Sammy must be a role model for his young teammates in the area of commitment to the West Indian cause as he gives the impression of being prepared to confront a Sherman tank in the interest of West Indian cricket and nationhood. Coaches Gibson, Haynes, the captain and senior players have a wonderful opportunity to come good on the sub-continent against a top-ranked team.
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