Mon | Mar 18, 2019

Laurie Foster | Windies still have some work to do

Published:Wednesday | February 13, 2019 | 12:24 AM

With England threatening to turn things around in the at-the- time-of-writing unfinished final Test, the West Indies should still be celebrating their unassailable 2-0 lead in the two already completed.

It came, most unpredictably, at a time when even the most diehard supporter had all but given up hope. It never looked as though the team could summon the character and courage to conquer the Englishmen in the way in which they did. President Dave Cameron should be an extremely happy man.

Despite their having outgunned the world number three ranked, captain Jason Holder’s men cannot be totally satisfied as there is considerable work to be done to correct a few cracks in the team’s structure. For starters, it must be acknowledged that with five trips to the middle, the opening batsmen, vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell, have encouraged with more than creditable first-wicket stands. When next the West Indies engages in Test cricket, which will be at home to India later this year, they should be retained as a collective unit.

However, a message should be sent to the Barbadian Brathwaite that his individual performances are not good enough to cement his future. Failure to up the ante against India should be time to ask him kindly to wheel and come again. That said, a replacement is not staring the selectors in the face, and that could be the primary reason why he is being given so many chances to retain his position.

Unstable middle order

Over the past two years, the middle order has been unstable, arguably caused by the team management being seemingly unsure as to the most viable batting order. Shai Hope now comes at three, previously occupied by brother Kyle, now justifiably dropped. Shimron Hetmyer occupied that prime spot on a subsequent occasion. There does not seem as though there is a designated spot for Roston Chase as he keeps getting shifted up and down the order. Given his recent unbeaten double century which triggered a move to ranking him as the region’s best, captain Holder himself merits a spot in the top six, which should be followed by the highly productive wicketkeeper- batsman Shane Dowrich.

Chase is somewhat of an enigma, promising and disappointing. As such, he should be deemed a doubtful quantity as he has fallen off as a producer of runs for his team. The selectors should decide whether his bowling is of sufficient impact to retain him in the line-up.

Even his eight-for match winner in the second Test should not guarantee confirmed consideration. This is of great importance going forward, as at this point he is shaping up to be a luxury which cannot be afforded.

Judging from their performance against England, this West Indies team appears to be returning to the days of the four-pronged speed battery.

Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Josephs seem to be the first-choice answers, with the remaining spot to be decided among the many who are waiting in the wings. For his raw pace, it seems that Oshane Thomas leads that pack. On another note, there is difficulty in understanding the rationale for the one-point imposition placed because of what was deemed to be a faulty Antigua pitch on which the second Test was played.

It could not have been all that bad, given that the home team was able to make over 300 in their first innings. There is a need for specific criteria to be set in the assessment as to whether a surface is fit for play or not. It is unacceptable to make that call and as a result, issue sanctions after the last ball is bowled. There is work for you, Mr President, but in the meantime, congratulations are due on a rare series win.

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