Tourists lose their sense of direction

Some big-name batsmen are forgetting how to pace themselves, says Tony Cozier
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The Independent Online
So, once more, the West Indies were betrayed by a batting order as formidable as any in the game, on paper at least.

Brian Lara, by general consensus and repute the most devastating player of the present, lasted less than half an hour. Jimmy Adams, by statistical evidence the most difficult to dislodge, stayed for 40 minutes. Richie Richardson, with 82 Tests and over 5,700 runs to his name, could only last 10 minutes and not score a run. Keith Arthurton defended doggedly for 50 minutes, but he too could not score.

It was left to the least experienced of the lot, the little opener Sherwin Campbell, to show what could be achieved by the type of application both the pitch and the tight England bowling demanded. While he was in the goal was never out of reach, but it was too much on the shoulders of a new recruit in only his fifth Test. If there was one gain from this defeat for the West Indies it was in his mature performance, curbing his natural instincts as a stroke-player to carry the standard for over five hours. At least now they know that one half of the difficult opening problem that has bothered them since the split of the Greenidge-Haynes partnership in 1991 has been solved.

It was the eighth time in their last nine completed innings that the West Indies have failed to pass 300. It is all very well having a collection of stars, as they do, but it becomes a worry if they do not perform in unison.

Even before the series started, Sir Gary Sobers made the relevant point that Lara was getting out too frequently between 50 and 100. Since his 375 in Antigua last year, he has managed only one century in 11 Tests, and the course of the remainder of the series would be significantly altered if he started to score with the consistency of a Sobers.

After the defeat against Australia in the Caribbean, the captain, Richardson, was so exasperated that he characterised the opposition as "the weakest Australian team I've played against". It was more meant as a reflection of his own team's shoddy performance than an insult to his worthy opponents. Here, he has been quick to praise England's discipline. Certainly this was not the shambles of a West Indies team that was overrun so emphatically by Mark Taylor's men. There was far more commitment but it was simply that, in a memorable match, they were outplayed by a better team.

The England bowling, even though it lacked the variety provided by Shane Warne, adhered to the same strict game plan as the Australian quick bowlers. That was to maintain a good length, on or just outside off stump, to frustrate the normally exuberant West Indian batsmen. While they showed far more restraint here than they had done at home, they still succumbed to the tactic.

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