West Indies 'never this bad'

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The Independent Online
England may have difficulty filling the No 3 position in the batting order, but that is nothing compared with the problems facing the West Indies, for whom things seem to be going from bad to worse.

Their captain, Richie Richardson,, who has witnessed an alarming slump culminating in the West Indies' record 121-run limited overs defeat in a World Series match against Australia on Sunday, said: "I've never seen it before, I've seen us have one or two bad matches but never four in a row."

The West Indies top order, weakened by the absence of Brian Lara, has struggled for form since arriving in Australia at the start of the month for the triangular one-day competition, which also features Sri Lanka.

"Our problem is we've got players who are capable, but who have to find form," Richardson told reporters in Melbourne, the venue for Tuesday's World Series fixture against Australia. "We've just got to get one score. If we get one score and get our confidence back, the slump in form could be over."

Lara withdrew from the tour after being fined for a breach of discipline during the Test series in England earlier this year. While efforts continued in the West Indies to convince Lara to make himself available for February's World Cup, Richardson said the left-hander would not be recalled for the rest of the current tour. "I just want to concentrate on the players here, but whatever the problem is I just hope it can be resolved," he said.

The dismal performance against Australia at Adelaide Oval on Sunday followed a four-wicket loss to Sri Lanka on the same ground two days earlier.

In their warm-up games, the tourists were humiliated in an eight-wicket defeat by the Australian Cricket Academy, a young side with virtually no first-class experience. That performance followed an equally poor display against a weak New South Wales state side, who were denied victory by rain on the final day.

But Richardson appeared to rule out sweeping team changes for today's encounter with Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"I don't think a change in the team will solve our problem," he said, adding: "The spirit is good because we're better than what we're showing, and we've just got to turn things around."

Australia's media are thoroughly enjoying the West Indies' recent suffering. Typical of their glee was the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper's description of the tourists yesterday morning as the "Worst Windies".

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