Cricket: Lloyd insists that flak for bowlers was deserved

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DAVID LLOYD spelt out the reasons yesterday why he meted out such bitter public criticism to Andy Caddick and Dean Headley last week.

The two fast bowlers were stung by the England coach's decision to single them out for blame following the second Test defeat to the West Indies here, but Lloyd said that it was all justified - in the light of Tuesday's win in the third Test, also at the Queen's Park Oval.

"I did hand out a little bit of criticism - and it was levelled against two players in particular," he said. "I was looking for a response and I think that we got it. One of them came in with five wickets in the first innings and the other one, Headley, bowled his heart out to take four wickets in their second innings and then helped us win the game with his batting at the end. I have never been so specific in criticising players before in my time as coach, but on that occasion I thought I would stir it up a bit - but for all the right reasons.

"I thought it was all measured criticism but what moved me to do it was that, in my eyes, our preparation for the Test had been absolutely spot- on but we had still lost the game," Lloyd added. "We needed a better performance in key areas and I'm pleased to say that in this last match we got it. We won the Test because we played as a unit - so now we can shout that from the rooftops too.

"People under-perform in all walks of life - it's no big thing and we had to be honest. As a coach you have a responsibility, in the main, to protect your team but I felt we needed to be critical on that occasion."

Lloyd said England's triumph, in what will go down as one of the epic Tests, was especially important because of the contribution of two younger players, Headley and Mark Butcher, and because the team had been made to fight all the way to the finishing line by the sustained brilliance of the West Indian pace veterans, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. He added: "They didn't bowl one bad ball for over after over and the fact we have come through against them will be a massive psychological boost."

"It's not so much that we have done it but that we have done it on a helpful pitch, against the two fast bowlers who I consider to be the best.

"You have to be strong enough to play every ball on its merit and Mike Atherton got it about right when he said the best way of dealing with them is to forget the scoreboard. They gave us a severe examination at the end of that game and it's a big boost that we were strong enough to come through.

"I'm particularly pleased that Headley and Butcher made such massive contributions because those two will have never been in a game quite like that before." England's next fixture is a three-day match against Guyana starting on Saturday in Bourda.

l Bad weather caused the first Test between South Africa and Pakistan in Johannesburg to end as a draw yesterday. The home side, who led by 35 after the first innings, closed on 44 without loss after only 10.3 overs were bowled on the final day.