Holder, WI were cowards
I feel it was quite ludicrous that the West Indies turned down the offer by Australia captain Steve Smith to make a game of the recent third Test in Australia. It's one thing to have to support a poor team; it's another to support a spineless bunch of cowards who quiver in their boots at the slightest sign of a contest.
The Sydney Test, badly affected by rain, saw the West Indies reaching 248 for 7 on the morning of the fifth day, in the only innings of the match at that point. Under normal conditions, that game would peter out to nothing but a dull boring draw (as it eventually did).
Steve Smith was radical enough to come up with a suggestion that would see the final day coming to life. Both teams now had a chance to win, and even if it ended in a draw, it would be a purposeful draw and not the drab, unexciting issue it turned out to be.
The machinations suggested that Australia would be chasing 370 in 70 overs to win the game. As Steve Smith himself said, "[Scoring] 370 off 70 overs is quite a lot of runs. I think that is fair game for both teams. As I said, it is just disappointing that they weren't prepared to come to the party."
The suggestion was for the West Indies to declare at their overnight position. Australia would then forfeit their first innings. In their second innings, the West Indies would be 'assured' of another 120 or so in 20 overs, thereby leaving Australia with that target of 370 in 70 overs.
This would mean the Aussie captain would set fields and use bowlers that would ensure the West Indies got the runs in the stipulated overs. On the face of it, I can understand why the purists wouldn't like this. For a team deliberately planning to bowl lollipops to set up an exciting finish goes against the principle of teams always trying their best.
If West Indies captain Jason Holder had rejected the suggestion on those grounds, I would have respected him, and by extension, his team. If the West Indies had said they didn't want to be involved in a game with such a contrived set of circumstances, I would have applauded them.
That kind of game where a team bowls easy to help the other team set up a declaration would have gone against the natural instinct of most professional cricketers. But that is not why Jason Holder turned down the offer. His reasons for refusing to make a match of the game smacks of a team too scared to try to win.
"I just went back to the team and we thought at this stage of our development, it wasn't the best thing for us. We had Ramdin, who was scoring well and looking well. So just give him the confidence to go out there and build an innings and build some confidence. We set out at the beginning of the series to bat 90 overs each time we batted and get past the 300 mark. That was one of the things that we wanted to achieve today, and we achieved that. ... I just think we need to take it step by step. It's not a case where you can just jump from losing Test matches to winning in one transition, especially against good teams like Australia."
What nonsense is this? What Jason Holder is saying here is saying is that making Ramdin build an innings, batting 90 overs and scoring over 300 runs was a greater team goal than trying to win a Test match! It's one of the most unfortunate statements ever uttered by a West Indian cricketer! The West Indies were 2-0 down in a three-Test series. What did we have to lose by trying to win? That's like a football team 2-0 down and trying to play defensively!
Scoring 370 in 70 overs on a fifth day doesn't happen too often in Test cricket. For Australia to score at more than five an over in the last session of a Test would take some doing and would open up possibilities for us to take wickets. If we couldn't win, we could always resort to defensive tactics like bowling wide and setting everyone back. There would be no one-day like restrictions, and run-getting could be made quite difficult. And even if we lost, I'd give the team credit for backing themselves and going down like soldiers.
If we can't be confident that we can defend 370 in 70 overs on a fifth-day pitch, this bunch is simply not ready for Test cricket. We were like wimps. I was embarrassed as a West Indian fan.
- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to email@example.com.