Cricket: Captain leads an emphatic backlash

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The Independent Online
THE West Indies' aim in the remaining one-day internationals, Richie Richardson noted on Tuesday, was 'to carry on winning and keep them suppressed'. He didn't go as far as to use the word grovel but his meaning was clear and understandable just the same.

The four one-day matches between the first and second Tests may not be particularly important in themselves but, as Richardson recognised, they carry long-term psychological relevance.

England's spirits were buoyant after their emphatic victory in the first international in Barbados a fortnight ago. Since then they have now endured three successive defeats and the worrying loss of Devon Malcolm, their only bowler capable of matching the opposition's pace and aggression.

Their resilience is under great strain and the West Indies are past- masters at seizing at such moments of weakness, whether in the middle of a match or the middle of a series. It is a sixth sense passed on from Clive Lloyd to Viv Richards and now to Richardson whose underrated troops have proved just as adept at implementing it.

They coasted, to their cost, in the Barbados match. It was, Richardson observed at the time, a blessing in disguise, a reminder that they had a proud record to protect and would not do so by taking opponents lightly. Mike Atherton correctly warned of a backlash.

The West Indies were at their most destructive and focused best yesterday, making the most of England's abundant generosity.

Atherton gave them first use of a hard, dry and true pitch in glorious weather, possibly misled by the low scores in the two previous internationals on the ground, and was then let down by bowlers who could hold neither length nor line and fielders who missed important catches.

This was annihilation, a shock to the system, a trauma England's young team will not quickly forget and an advantage the West Indies will not readily render.

The West Indies gained all round. Their three batsmen recently short of form, Desmond Haynes, Richardson himself and Phil Simmons, continued the revival evident in Kingston last Saturday. Haynes has not batted better this season, Richardson has never been more devastating.

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