It is, of course, the captain who has the final word. If the captain wins the toss it is he who has to decide whether to bat or field first, who to bring on to bowl and who to place where in the field. If the wrong decision is made, it is the captain who has to answer for it. Mike Atherton will obviously heed the advice and judgement of his senior players, who have now been with him for quite a while and whose opinions he respects.
The coach, David Lloyd, who, because of his Red Rose origins, Atherton has known for most of his cricketing life, must also figure when difficult choices have to be made. But it is then, when Atherton looks round the room and sees the clutter of ancillary workers: the bowling coach, the team manager, an ambitious physiotherapist who made a mystery over Adam Hollioake's back injury, a couple of PR people and, I dare say, one or two others, he must long for some peace and quiet. At times the dressing room must look like Waterloo Station in the rush hour.
When the first Trinidad Test ended in defeat last Monday,Lloyd made a more than justified public criticism of his new- ball bowlers, Dean Headley and Andrew Caddick. It was unlike Lloyd to go public in this way, though, and the players concerned were uneasy that it was not kept in- house.
Was this a psychological move by Lloyd to try to ensure the bowlers would be desperately keen to prove him wrong in the present Test match? There was the danger that in this sensitive and mollycoddling era he might have alienated them both. One would like to know whether this criticism was made with or without the captain's approval and indeed what his views were.
It also would be interesting to know what was said to Headley and Caddick before they took the field on the first day, because they both bowled badly and wasted the conditions in their opening spells. The West Indies should never have been allowed to arrive at 93 for 1.
Are these bowlers deaf to advice? Were they still angry after Lloyd's criticism? It is impossible to believe they did not know what they should have done, which was to have bowled length and line and made sure the batsmen had to play every ball. As it was, they bowled short and wide. One is left with the inescapable conclusion that they had no idea where the ball was going. Neither appeared to have any rhythm. Maybe their nerves had taken control.
There were two strange things that did not happen. As far as one could tell, the captain did not speak to either to offer advice or sympathy. Also neither Headley nor Caddick were able to operate the fail-safe mechanism of cutting down their pace and making sure they put the ball on the spot when they were struggling.
If anyone had asked Douglas Jardine, for example, what he said to his bowlers or why he did not say anything to them, he would have been given the shortest shrift. Nowadays, leadership is much more in the public domain. It would be nice to know what the spin doctors - or pace doctors - have been saying here, and also where the chain of command lays.Reuse content