It was an all too familiar tale for West Indies at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, as they had the opposition (South Africa) in trouble, let them get away, and eventually collapsed like only they can to hand the game away on a platter. Their batting in particular was atrocious.
Despite a brave recovery from the Proteas, the Windies bowlers had done reasonably well to restrict the batting side to just over 350. What they needed though was for the batting to fire well enough for them to get a lead in the 150-run region.
Instead, the inexperienced line-up collapsed for a paltry score and, in effect, that is where the game was decided. In spite of a reasonable batting effort in the second innings, the home team was left with a little too much to do in the end.
That the game finished in three and a half days in spite of the amount of time lost due to rain told a tale in itself. None of the Windies batsmen could play a proper Test knock even though three of them crossed the 20s. The disheartening aspect yet again was the ungainly attitude of the players.
There was hardly any effort made to try and battle it out in the middle, expect for a brief while when Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Narsingh Deonarine were at the crease. If only they could take some lessons from the way South Africa fought back, the contest could have been a lot closer, even if the result wasn’t.
The top half of the Proteas’ batting completely fell apart. Yet, A B de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher and even Dale Steyn showed great resolve in helping their side to fight their way back into the game. And once that was done, the South African bowlers proved to be deadly.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel demonstrated what raw pace coupled with a degree of accuracy can do to a mediocre batting outfit. They destroyed the Windies batting line-up with such consummate ease, as if they were playing against some minnows. While West Indies did not bat smartly, it was not South Africa’s fault and so the bowlers deserve to walk away with the plaudits.
And even as the home side fought back in the second essay courtesy gutsy efforts from skipper Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, Steyn and Morkel again did enough to destroy their hopes of a comeback. And this time, they were aided by the other bowlers too.
While South Africa did splendidly with the ball, they would like to top order to do better than what they did in the first innings at Port of Spain. Of course, they would have been pleased to see skipper Graeme Smith getting amongst the runs, still there is enough scope for improvement as none of their batsmen went on to get a ton despite a number of them getting close.
The Proteas should aim to shut out the Windies in the next Test with a dominating batting performance against a relatively weak attack.
If one has to pick up a bright spot in yet another disastrous performance from West Indies, it would have to be the effort of Sulieman Benn. After his controversial send off in one of the one-dayers, it was pleasing to see the left-arm spinner set things right with the ball.
Using his guile and height, Benn was successful in troubling the African batsmen and, in the process, was rewarded with as many as eight wickets. Not only that, as if to make a stronger point, he held up the opposition’s charge with his batting heroics in the second innings.
Now, if only Benn can continue to display the same attitude in the future matches, West Indies can be aided to some extent in their endeavourer to put together a better unit. Also impressive was debutant Shane Shillingford, who picked up four wickets and had South Africa in early trouble.
Shillingford has shown some promise, and it is crucial for the decision-makers to stick with him for a fair while and see if he is capable to delivering in the long run. Too many Windies talents have been recruited and discarded in recent times, just for the sake of chopping and changing, which has done little good for the team.
This Test has been another ‘what if only…’ story for West Indies. But, the good part is that Gayle has promised to give his young guns another go. This time, however, they need to put up a better effort, and the seniors like Chanderpaul too have to put their hands up and deliver to help West Indies put up a fight. About winning, that’s really doesn’t come into the equation as of now.
No comments yet.