Adams sees consistency as the key to vengeance

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The Independent Online

There is an unmistakableperception that the West Indies' confidence has been so shaken by their dramatic defeat at Lord's that they are ripe for the taking for the remaining three Tests of the series.

There is an unmistakableperception that the West Indies' confidence has been so shaken by their dramatic defeat at Lord's that they are ripe for the taking for the remaining three Tests of the series.

"Time to nail them" was how one newspaper headline put it on Tuesday, echoing the general comments that followed the West Indies' capitulation for 54 in the face of England's bodyline bowling at Lord's.

Yet both the captain, Jimmy Adams, and the coach, Roger Harper, defended their team sensibly yesterday.

"We're a good enough team to beat anybody in the world if we're playing consistently good cricket - with the emphasis on the word consistent," Adams said, a self-evident truth even given their erratic results of late.

Harper pointed to the resounding victory by an innings in three days in the first Test. "I would like to see us get back to playing in the disciplined and organised manner which we did at Edgbaston and I believe the result would be the same," he said.

That West Indies' win was achieved with the most efficient all-round cricket they have played in years. Everyone contributed. The wickets were shared as England were dismissed for 179 and 125. There were effective partnerships through to the end of the innings after the loss of two early wickets and the fielding was sharp.

So what has gone wrong in the interim? "It has been one of our traits that once we get into a reasonable position we seem to think that everything's going to be fine instead of being determined to capitalise on the position we're in and to ensure we don't let the opposition back in," Adams noted.

The paradox is that time and again, when they have seemed down and out, the West Indies suddenly find inspiration and bounce back with a vengeance.

A year and a half ago, at the Queen's Park Oval, they were dismissed for fewer than what they managed at Lord's. Australia bundled them out for 51, their lowest Test total, and inflicted on them a sixth successive Test defeat. Brian Lara was publicly castigated by the West Indies Cricket Board for his lack of leadership and placed on probation for two Tests.

What followed beggared belief. Against the strongest, most ruthless team in the contemoporary game and with an XI under him who included five players in their first series, Lara inspired two successive victories with unforgettable innings of 213 and 153 not out. The 51 in Trinidad was followed by totals of 431, 329 and 311 for 9, with Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh doing their usual stuff, supported by Adams, Sherwin Campbell, Ridley Jacobs and Nehemiah Perry.

As Adams and Harper are now aware, it showed what can be achieved. Lara, Ambrose and Walsh are still the guiding lights, but this is an altogether stronger team than it was then.

Consistency is the key.

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