West Indies faults all too blatant

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The West Indies would have invoked memories of famous victories past as they sought to deny England wresting the Wisden Trophy from their weakening, finger-tip grip.

The West Indies would have invoked memories of famous victories past as they sought to deny England wresting the Wisden Trophy from their weakening, finger-tip grip.

The plain truth was that theirs was mission impossible. Only the presence of Brian Lara gave them any hope but his form was inconsistent and the frailty of the rest of the batting had been repeatedly exposed. A goal of 374, on a wearing pitch, was patently out of the reach of a team previously bowled out for 54, 157, 172, 61 and 125 in the series.

Yet an effort had to be made. Victory was obligatory to save the series.

However, it merely increased the pressure and a confident, determined and obviously united England team was not about to betray the thousands who packed The Oval to witness the end of an era.

It has completed a depressing sequence for the West Indies. It is five years since they have won a series overseas. They have fallen to Australia, Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand in the interim and failed to deal with the basic faults that have affected their cricket.

Those faults were again blatant through this series and an embarrassing contrast to England's well-drilled efficiency.

Their ground fielding and their running between the wickets were erratic, they carried a lengthy tail that started at No 7 with their sole, overworked wicketkeeper and they had to rely too heavily on their two veteran fast bowlers, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.

Throughout, they had to locate suspect fielders with weak throwing arms in key positions in the deep, a deficiency clinically exploited by England, especially on the second morning of the Headingley Test where the psychological balance was shifted in a series still level at 1-1.

England, on the other hand, were sharp and athletic in every position on the ground. After their heavy defeat in the first Test, they regrouped by dealing with their weaknesses.

They found rejuvenated all-rounders in Craig White and Dominic Cork who joined Darren Gough and Andy Caddick to give the attack the effective four-prolonged pace base with which they had been harassed for so long and an opening batsman of spirit in Marcus Trescothick.

There are areas the West Indies must address if they are to halt their continuing slide to mediocrity. No team can go into a Test match these days so lacking in the basics of the game and expect to be truly competitive.

Even more disturbing yesterday was to hear the former captain Sir Viv Richards, team coach as recently as last year, and the manager, Ricky Skerritt, both questioning the commitment of some of the players and lamenting a general lack of professionalism and preparedness.

The recriminations have already started in the Caribbean. England have always been the old enemy and 31 years is a long time. A lot of work lies ahead.

Comments