Richardson has his work cut out

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The Independent Online
Based on their remarkable record of resilience, if not on the realities of their three-day defeat in the first Test on Sunday, Mark Taylor, the Australian captain, has warned of a West Indies' fightback in the remainder of the series.

"These blokes have been 1-0 down before so they know what it's like," Taylor said after his team's stunning victory by 10 wickets. "They have come back before so we've got to make sure we play as well if not better than we did in this game," he added.

"They can come out and get beaten by 10 wickets here and they can bounce back very tough in Antigua [the venue for the second Test starting on Saturday]. I know the West Indies. That's the way they play."

Taylor has first-hand experience of the syndrome. He was vice-captain in the previous series between the teams in Australia two years ago, when the West Indies were beaten in the second Test in Melbourne yet recovered to win the fourth in Adelaide by a single run and the fifth and final in Perth by an innings.

In maintaining the unmatched record of 28 successive series without losing one, the West Indies have been behind eight times. The most recent instance was in India late last year when, under Courtney Walsh, victory in the final Test in Chandigarh cancelled out defeat in the first in Bombay.

The evidence in the defeat at Kensington Oval over the weekend suggests that their determination and spirit have never been more seriously tested than they will be over the next four weeks, and even the most ardent West Indian supporter's confidence was shattered by their unusually inept performance.

Taylor's Australians have become fiercely committed to the cause of regaining the Frank Worrell Trophy, which has been in West Indian hands since 1978. Their triumph was achieved after a potentially unsettling start to the tour, in which they lost their main strike bowler, Craig McDermott - whose tour was ended by an accident in which he tore ligaments in his left ankle - and the one-day series 4-1.

It was adversity that, according to Taylor, prompted his team to lift their game. Conversely, the West Indies still seemed to be in a one-day frame of mind throughout the Test match.

Their captain Richie Richardson promised after the match: "We are going to bounce back. We are going to be bubbling and things are going to be different." Judging by the coverage in yesterday's West Indian press and the irate calls on radio phone-in programmes, West Indians still have to be convinced. This is Richardson's first Test match since acute fatigue prompted doctors to order him to take a six-month break from the game in the middle of last year and he has been blamed, as much as anyone, for the unusual demise of the team.

There are worrying signs that the West Indies' invincibility is now under serious threat. The selectors clearly gambled and lost with their decision to give the man's job of opening the innings to two boys, Stuart Williams and Sherwin Campbell, a total of eight Tests between them, promising as they are. In the absence of Desmond Haynes, someone of experience - Richardson himself or Phil Simmons, regardless of his unflattering Test record - is probably required to give more reassurance at the top of the order.

In the middle, the demotion of Jimmy Adams to No 6 from No 4, where he had made three centuries in his previous four Tests, removed the stability the stroke-playing middle order clearly needed. To have him left high and dry unbeaten on 39, as he was on Sunday, was a waste.

The primary cause of the West Indies' defeat, alongside an overall attitude of complacency that pervaded every aspect of their game, was the collapse of the batting for under 200 in both innings on a good pitch. Yet there was also concern over the bowling, and the selectors should be considering the introduction of some variety in their pace-based attack - such as the overdue inclusion of the leg-spinner, Rajindra Dhanraj.

There has been, inevitably, a big outcry over what was the first defeat for the West Indies within three days in 30 years. The public in the West Indies holds its cricket dear, and it can be wickedly unforgiving if those who represent it on the field fall short of their expectations.

FIRST TEST (Bridgetown, Barbados): West Indies 195 (B C Lara 65, C L Hooper 60; B P Julian 4-36) and 189 (G D McGrath 5-68); Australia 346 (I A Healy 74no, S R Waugh 65, M A Taylor 55) and 39 for 0. Australia win by 10 wickets.

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