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Tony Howard: expects WI to play 100% better

Thursday 08, April-2004

by Colin James in St. John’s

Tony Howard That’s how interim manager Tony Howard expects the West Indies cricket team to perform in the final Test of the Cable & Wireless series against England at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) starting on Saturday.

The home side will be seeking to avoid a 4-0 clean sweep after losing the other three games.

Speaking at a practice session in Antigua yesterday, Tony Howard said the Caribbean side was looking to bounce back.

“The mood in the camp is one of defiance,” he said. “We have had several post-game meetings with a view to devising a strategy to counteract the things that have happened in the first three games.

“So I suspect you will see a better standard of play from the West Indies team and certainly expect the boys to do one hundred per cent better.”

The tourists, sensing they have the Windies were they are most vulnerable, are hoping to create history at the ARG. If England win the final Test it would be the first clean sweep of the West Indies in the Caribbean by an England team.

Howard, who replaced Ricky Skerritt who resigned in the wake of the second Test defeat in Trinidad last month, acknowledged that confidence was dented and it will be a challenge to get back to a competitive level.

“Once you have been beaten three games in a row there is always going to be that area of doubt,” Howard said.

“But certainly there are certain mechanisms you can use. You need to get the team spirit back up. You need to get the guys working together and we have seen a lot of that in the last couple of days,” he said.

“We had extensive net sessions. We had a session before we arrived in Antigua Tuesday night.”

The manager said mental toughness and technique in some of the players – which pundits say has been lacking – are two areas they have looked at.

“We went into the indoor nets at Cave Hill (Barbados) for two days now and we worked on certain strategies to counteract what the English has been offering,” Howard said.

“As far as mental toughness is concerned, that’s not an overnight thing. That is something one has to work on.

“You have to first of all get into the guys’ heads to find out where they are emotionally and then you can start looking at strategies to get back on stream.”

He is calling on the players to put the past behind and look ahead.

“The results have gone. You can’t do anything about those. You can certainly focus on what is in front of you. The captain certainly is bent on doing a good job here and by and large the team is smiling again. They are coming to the realisation you can only go up from here.”

The manager said the motivation from the Windies’ famous win against Australia last year when they were set a record 418 and achieved it should inspire the team.

“That’s a hook line the guys have brought into that we have been successful here recently and if we look at our performances here in Antigua it must be happy hunting ground for the West Indies team. So that’s something that also gives them confidence,” he said.

England’s captain Michael Vaughan said his team was eager to reproduce the good form they have showed on the tour.

“If we win Antigua, obviously it [clean sweep] will be the first time it’s ever been done. We are just looking to continue with the momentum,” he said.

Compliments of the Nation News



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Dwayne Smith pommels another delivery six during his explosive 94 which came off just 63 balls at the 3Ws Oval against Jamaica yesterday. (Picture by Gordon Brooks.)

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