Foster's Fairplay | Sustaining Windies momentum
In an uncharacteristic, amazingly brilliant display of tenacious fifth day batsmanship at the Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds, the Windies cricket team turned the sword on England, who had battered and humiliated them, severely bruising their ego in the Edgbaston, Birmingham encounter. It happened after being set a victory target of 322 runs late on the previous day.
Historically, it would be a mountain too steep to climb and was a challenge to the visitors by the England captain, deeply rooted (pun intended) in the belief that these boys from the Caribbean were simply not good enough. Coming from the depths of a devastating and demoralising defeat, Jason Holder's men, on the back of old-time Barbadian batting brilliance, seemed to have had a metamorphosis. It resulted in the captain's countrymen, Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope, being the bulwarks against all that England hurled at them.
As is traditionally the case, the call-in shows are inundated with messages hailing this new and hopefully sustainable image of Windies Test cricket. Given the rarity of quality triumphs at Test cricket level, some are convinced that last Tuesday was a dream. This is not the Windies to which they have become accustomed.
Following this breathtaking blowout of England, skipper Holder is enjoying a special moment by bringing to reality his constant optimistic thoughts in the face of being rolled over time after time. The homesters' captain, Joe Root, is being pilloried from some quarters for what turned out to be a miscalculation. The body language of the England team, as they slid to the inevitable loss, told a big story. They will not take it lightly. The Windies can expect a response at cricket's headquarters, Lords Cricket Ground, come Thursday of this week. Just think of a vicious snake, recoiled and backed in a corner with the only way to go but straight at you. The Windies, despite their current 'feeling good', may well be the victim of the England serpent's sting.
They will need to re-engage all their resources to ensure that this will not happen. The West Indies, for their part, need to keep their foot on the pedal. It is also essential that they look beyond Lords.
West Indies has suffered over the years by the absence of many of its best players, who seem to find coloured-clothes cricket a better option. It is to the credit of this lot that they appear to harbour contrary thoughts. If the team is to have a fair chance of future success, it is crucial that this leaning to the red ball cricket be encouraged.
Board President Dave Cameron has received an avalanche of criticism for the handling of his portfolio. He has been required to defend himself against a plethora of allegations, including an inability to successfully resolve player issues, which are, to say the least, distracting. Separate conflicts with the Bravo brothers are just two. The present euphoria with the recent team accomplishment could provide an opportunity to wipe his slate clean. He should seek to find a way to keep this unit together. There are gaps in this team, but there should be no haste to introduce new faces.
In the view of this columnist, no harm will be done in allowing a few more chances to those who have not yet stepped up to the plate.
The reference here is to opener Kieran Powell and Kyle Hope. Darren Bravo should be a consideration to slot himself into a middle-order batting position, but, he too, has problems to be sorted out. Based on the advances since that contentious tweet, he should have been on that flight to England.
It is in Cameron's best interest to play the lead role in making sure that the Trinidadian is a passenger next time around. Given the egos at play, it seems apparent that the impasse could be prolonged if that does not happen.
With the uncontrolled joy in the Windies camp, the words of a not-that-popular gospel song from the year 1969 spring to mind. Done by Harold Smith's Majestic Choir, it is titled, We can all walk a little bit prouder.
One hopes that this walk can be sustained.
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