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BARBADOS - WI Can't Take The Heat
Monday 05, April-2004
West Indies lack the mental toughness to cope with the demands of international cricket.
When they are presented with pressure situations, they buckle without much of a fight. Of late, however, they can’t seem to be able to handle the least challenging set of circumstances.
In all three Tests they suffered sensational second innings collapses, and it happened at a time when the match was evenly poised.
In the first innings in two of those matches, there was little separating the two teams.
In essence then, the pressure wasn’t that enormous, but for whatever reasons, the West Indies offered token resistance only in the second innings, especially in the first Test at Sabina where they were bowled out for 47 and the third at Kensington where they managed a 100 per cent improvement on their lowest Test total.
In either case, it was against bowling of a reasonable standard that adhered to the required line and length and was enhanced by appreciable bounce and sometimes movement.
In the end, West Indies’ batsmen were found wanting.
“A lot of the cricket out there is not really about inadequate technique,” West Indies captain Brian Lara said after Saturday’s defeat at Kensington that provided England with a third successive win in the 2004 Cable & Wireless contest and their first Caribbean series success in 36 years.
“It’s a lot of pressure mentally. You’ve got to be a big man to play Test cricket.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys playing. They are going to learn. Hopefully, the psychological effect is not going to be lasting.
“It could be if we get into that mood of losing a lot. It can have an effect on you for a long time. That’s what we’ve got to be very careful of.”
Some of the players have a lot to answer for.
Chris Gayle must be asking himself time and again why he attempted that atrocious, stand-and-deliver, heavy-footed swing against Steve Harmison late of the second day after thumping the bowler for three leg-side boundaries in the same over.
In both innings of this Test, Ramnaresh Sarwan was out to loose drives that resulted in catches off the outside edge - not good enough for a player of his ability.
Ryan Hinds wasn’t at the crease for 20 minutes in the first innings when he attempted a hook that was caught at long-leg.
In the second Test, Dwayne Smith was out to an intended pull to the first ball he faced after a similar shot that brought him a six over mid-wicket. In the second innings, he fell to a loose shot after raising heartbeats with a few indiscreet strokes before he got out. Smith was immediately dropped after his first Test in the series and perhaps the same type of treatment should be dished out to others who do likewise.
What’s sad is that these players have produced in the past. Why they are unable to do so now is mind-boggling.
“I hope that the guys understand that they’ve got to put runs on the board,” Lara said.
“They are playing for the West Indies. They are following in the footsteps of great batsmen of the past
“We’ve got young players. A lot of hope has been put in them. We’ve just got to depend on them a little bit more.”
Too often, Lara has been the spearhead of the West Indies batting and now that he is failing, no one has risen to the occasion.
“I’d like to see more competition in the batting,” the captain said.
“We played four series before this and to score the most runs in each and every series is a little bit of a concern.
“You want to see guys pressing you a bit. I still do believe that we’ve got a good group of youngsters.”
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