The big challenge for cricket coachesSaturday, August 01, 2020
Hope , though springing eternal, is never enough.
Deeds, inspired by hope, will win the day.
After shocking higher-ranked England in Southampton to win just their third Test match on English soil in 20 years — an exceptional achievement by itself — hope was kindled of a first West Indies Test series win in England since 1988.
Even before that wondrous first Test triumph, this newspaper dreamt of a West Indies series victory as a fitting goodbye for the legendary Sir Everton Weekes, who died just prior to the start of the series.
Yet, cricket analysts knew that beating England in that country or even drawing the series to retain The Wisden Trophy was a mountain of gigantic proportions.
As it has turned out, after that first Test, England bounced back to outdo the West Indies in every department, on and off the field, to win the series 2-1.
There are justifiable questions about team selections and so forth which this newspaper expects will be addressed by Cricket West Indies.
Beyond that though, it has to be recognised that this was a case of host team England, ranked fourth in Test cricket by the International Cricket Council, beating visitors ranked eighth.
That hard fact won't dull the disappointment of defeat for Caribbean people, especially after the grand start to the series by their team, but in our view, it does appropriately place events in context.
Crucially, Cricket West Indies and Caribbean cricket watchers must not forget, or in any way downplay that first Test victory which sent supporters into joyous celebration in this strange time of COVID-19. Nor should Caribbean people forget the fighting spirit shown by Mr Jason Holder and his men. Those final hours — as West Indies batsmen, led by Mr Jermaine Blackwood, clawed their way towards the victory target — should remain stitched in the memory.
Not just the first Test but the entire series proved that West Indies fast bowling remains alive and strong. We say this, even while recognising the efforts of the all-rounder Mr Roston Chase whose underrated off spin continues to reap wickets.
This newspaper is among those believing that the pace attack could have been even more potent had back-up bowlers been called on for the second and third Tests.
We expect such errors to be conceded and learnt from, going forward.
As was feared prior to the start of the series, inefficient batting was the biggest headache for the West Indies in England.
Coaches around the region at all age group levels, under the technical direction of Mr James Adams, must set about the challenge of getting young players to bat long, until 'the cows come home'.
It's not easy, given the extreme resource constraints as highlighted by Mr Holder; plus the understandable desire among young players to play cash-rich fast cricket, which does not require the batting standards of older, longer formats.
But we must not kid ourselves. Without that ability by West Indian batsmen to stay at the crease for hours and hours, the regional team will not be a major force in Test cricket.
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