Sat | Oct 23, 2021

Technique, situational awareness under microscope – Simmons

Published:Wednesday | June 23, 2021 | 12:13 AM

GROS ISLET, St Lucia, (CMC):

Phil Simmons has pointed to flaws in technique, as well as situational awareness, as the principal factors behind West Indies’ batting fiasco in the recent two-Test series against South Africa.

Only two batsmen – Roston Chase in the first Test and opener Kieran Powell in the second Test – managed half-centuries as the home side scraped totals of 97, 162, 149 and 165 in the two matches.

West Indies suffered heavy defeats in both, losing the first by an innings and 63 runs in 2-½ days and the second by 158 runs, half-hour before tea on the fourth day here Monday.

“Looking back at it and an assessment of the game, there are a few little technical issues,” Simmons said.

“Just to mention one, in the first Test match we got caught playing away from our bodies a lot, and when a wicket is doing as much as it did in that Test match, then that’s to your detriment, and we saw that in being bowled out for 97.

“A few of the guys came back from that in the last Test match and we saw a few guys get into the 40s and 50s but at the same time, not assessing the whole situation of the game and knowing that we’re on top and we need to be tight for a while in order to put pressure on them (South Africa).

“When they got the two wickets [in the second innings on Monday], they just ran through us, so I think a lot of it is assessment of the situation of the game and how we need to play in that situation to keep our team in that position of strength.”

Starting Monday’s penultimate day on 15 without loss in pursuit of 322 for victory, West Indies lost captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope cheaply to slip to 26 for two, before Powell (51) and Kyle Mayers (34) staged a 64-run, third wicket stand to revive the innings.

But both surrendered their wickets cheaply with loose strokes with lunch in sight, and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj’s hat-trick in the penultimate over before the interval reduced the Windies to 109 for six at the break.

With fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi proving a handful on a lively track at the Daren Sammy National Stadium, Simmons said there was a need for technical improvements especially against pace.

“We all have technical flaws. When we leave a West Indies tour and we go back we always have to work on things,” he explained.

“Fortunately or unfortunately in a way, tours come up quickly these days so little things that we have to correct end up coming up again and again.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to correct a number of things. We seemed to correct [the batting] earlier in the year to spin bowling but we need to do some work to the fast bowling now and that’s what we’re looking at.”

In contrast, West Indies’ seamers were excellent throughout the series but especially in the last Test. When South Africa grabbed a 149-run first innings lead, Kemar Roach spearheaded a comeback which saw the visitors routed for 174 in their second innings late Sunday.

And Simmons said the bowling group had set the standard for the level of commitment expected from the batting order, especially with the two-Test series against Pakistan starting in seven weeks.

“You want players to go out there and put everything on the park. You want batsmen to go out there and fight. We had some fight but we didn’t have enough,” Simmons stressed.

“I think the bowlers showed them [in the last innings] what we have to do every time we go out there. The batsmen have got to follow that now.

“I think between now and the next Test match, players have got to work on both aspects – your technical aspect but [also] your mental aspect because you have to take a blow here now and then.

“All that is part of the mental part of the cricket so we need to see an improvement in that.”