Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Tony Becca: Speak the truth, and speak it ever

Published:Sunday | December 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Ambrose
Darren Bravo
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The first Test between the West Indies and Australia ended in an easy, comfortable, convincing, and one-sided innings and 212-run victory for Australia.

It ended inside three of the scheduled five days, and regardless of what anyone says, Australian or West Indian, it was pretty predictable.

The West Indies, ranked number eight, went to Australia after hardly winning a match away from home since 1995 and only winning a few matches against the good teams at home since then.

They lost two Test matches to Australia in the West Indies this year, one match by nine wickets, and the other by 277 runs, after Australia had declared at 212 for two in their second innings.

And against a new-look Sri Lanka only recently, they also lost 2-0, one by an innings and six runs, and one by 72 runs.

That was a defeat which was so humiliating that it left the incomparable Garry Sobers almost in tears.

And after arriving in Australia, and playing against a Cricket Australia XI, a team with an average age of 21 and comprising six players making their first-class debut, they lost the game by 10 wickets with time to spare after the Australians eased to 13 without loss in their second innings.

With such a record going into the Test match, it was difficult, or unrealistic, for anyone, friend or foe, to expect anything better when they tackled the number two-ranked team in the world, especially in their own backyard and with the likes of David Warner and Steven Smith, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, and Nathan Lyon.

The West Indies, fortunately, did not have to face either Mitchell Johnson, who has surprisingly retired, or Mitchell Starc, who is injured.

It mattered little, or very little.

Australia broke almost every record, and quite comfortably at that. They batted first, after they had won the toss, and after Jason Holder had said he would have bowled first had he won the toss. They chipped to a mammoth 583 for four declared, after sliding to 121 for three, with a rousing fourth-wicket partnership of 449, not by Warner and Smith but by Adam Voges, 269 not out off 285 deliveries, and Shaun Marsh, 182, and then bundled the West Indies out for 223 and 148.

In defeat, the West Indies did not seem worthy of being on the same field with Australia, and not for the first time in recent times, they looked out of place in a Test arena.

At the start of the first day, the Aussie batsmen drove on both sides of the wicket and cut and pulled with relish, after tea on the same day they made merry when Romel Warrican, Kraigg Brathwaite, and Jermaine Blackwood were entrusted with the bowling, and on the last day, it was really embarrassing day as West Indian wickets tumbled with monotonous regularity.

On that first day, the Australians sprinted to 70 without loss while stroking 15 of the 51 boundaries in the day's play in the first 60 minutes, the four West Indies pacers bowled a total of only 48 overs between them, and Australia romped to 438 for three and to the highest total on any day in the history of Test cricket.

At times during the match, especially while the part-timers were bowling, the West Indies had five and six fielders on the boundary. It was simply frustrating.

The only saving grace for the West Indies as Australia scored at over five runs an over throughout their innings and their bowlers cut down the Windies batsmen one by one, were the batting performances of Darren Bravo and Brathwaite, who prevented a total embarrassment by chipping in with innings of 108 and 94 respectively.

And all this followed a furious burst by Curtly Ambrose against the media for speaking the truth, nothing but the truth.

Ambrose, the technical adviser, and the bowling coach, attempted to lambast the Australians for all their talk of a weak West Indies team. He was on the warpath, before the Test match, or appeared to be.

The man who hardly uttered a word as a player, said: "We played against Australia not so long ago in the Caribbean and even though we lost 2-0 there were moments or periods when we had them on the back foot and had their backs against the wall. And we never finished them off. So we believe we can compete and not only compete but we believe we can beat them and that's our focus, not just to compete but to win."

He also said, surprisingly: "We're focused, and in light of what happened in the warm-up game, we are confident that we can put up a good show against Australia."

And to back up his words, he continued: "We had a meeting, we had a talk about it (the warm-up match). I explained to the guys in no uncertain terms that that's unacceptable and if we are going to struggle against an Under-19 team how do we expect to compete against a strong Australian line-up?"

Regardless of what Ambrose said, the West Indies did not win the first Test. In fact, they were beaten out of sight.

He probably not only forgot the roles of Courtney Walsh, Richie Richardson, and Phil Simmons on this tour, but he also may have forgotten that he is the coach and not a player, and not a fast bowler at that.

Ian Chappell, the former Australians great, said during the first day massacred of the West Indies bowlers, "regardless of what Ambrose says, this bowling is weak, very weak."

As the technical adviser, or the bowling coach of the team, Ambrose is expected to motivate the players as much as he can, especially as a former great player himself. He is not, however, expected to go overboard in his assessment of the players' ability or their potential.

He is not expected, especially as one who knows the game, to behave as if the players are better than they really are. He is expected to speak the truth, as he sees it, even if it is not really the entire truth.