Harper critical of Oval pitch but says batsmen failed to adjustFriday, July 30, 2021
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Chief selector Roger Harper has also taken aim at the quality of the Kensington Oval pitch for the recent one-day series against Australia, but also conceded West Indies' batsmen had also failed to make the adjustments required.
The former West Indies off-spinner said the pitch had produced too much variation for a limited overs game, and it left the home side's batsmen with an enormous challenge with which they never really came to grips.
West Indies lost the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series 1-2.
“Coming to Barbados in the ODIs — different format, longer format — I think the team generally found the pitches a little challenging and didn't adapt as well as they should've from a batting perspective,” Harper explained.
“They never really came to terms with the pitch and were not able to produce the sort of collective batting performance that was required.
“One of the things you expect when you play the shorter version of the game, whether it is ODI or T20, you expect a pitch that's consistent in bounce and pace, and I think there was a lot of variation in both bounce and pace.
“I don't think it's the sort of pitch that you would expect for limited overs cricket.”
West Indies lost the opening ODI by 133 runs after failing to chase down a target of 257 but then put that performance behind them to overhaul Australia's modest 187 in the second game and win by four wickets.
With the series in the balance, the hosts mustered only 152 in the final game last Monday and the visitors pounced, to stroll to a comfortable six-wicket win.
Harper pointed out that the best example of the approach required on the Oval pitch came when Nicholas Pooran (59 not out) and Jason Holder (52) put on 93 for the sixth wicket in the second ODI.
“I must point out that the Australian batters also struggled on the surface and if you look at the stats, you wouldn't see that much difference [to the West Indies batsmen],” Harper told Starcom Radio's Mason and Guest.
“The biggest challenge I thought was adapting to the conditions and playing the situation as well.
“When we chased the target down [in the second ODI], in particular the partnership between Holder and Pooran, they rotated the strike, they picked up a lot of singles and then picked off the loose balls once they got in, rather than trying to create shots.”
There were also half-centuries in the series for Evin Lewis and captain Kieron Pollard but no West Indies batsman managed more than 69 runs overall in the three matches, while leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr finished as the lead wicket-taker with seven scalps.
Harper said despite a few encouraging signs, the disappointment in the series had been with the Windies batting.
“We had the odd score here and there but generally from a batting perspective, we were not able to produce the sort of totals that we were looking for, and that's what let us down in the very end,” Harper pointed out.
“I think collectively we did a decent job with the ball. I think Akeal Hosein bowled consistently well, Walsh bowled well. I think Alzarri Joseph also was very consistent with the ball but generally as a batting unit, I don't think we put it together.
“It was good to see the way we chased the target in the second game … but generally our batting was a challenge.”
Pollard blasted the pitch as “unacceptable for international cricket” following the final ODI.
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