After conceding 649 runs in the first Test against India in Rajkot, West Indies slumped to 94 for 6. How did it all go so wrong? Well, their bowling coach Corey Collymore has a theory.
“We let the game slip away yesterday, giving them a fantastic start,” he said. “Except that middle period, we didn’t build enough pressure and sustain it at any given time.
“We started really short and wide to Mr. Shaw on debut. I know he’s a good player, I saw him in the Under-19s and we played him in the practice game but for me it’s still 22 yards and the lengths they don’t change. We have to be better at that going forward.”
There were some mitigating circumstances. The bowling attack has been propped up almost solely on Shannon Gabriel’s shoulders with the other two quicks having a combined one Test’s worth of experience and legspinner Devendra Bishoo looking ineffective. And they ended up in this place because both Jason Holder and Kemar Roach became unavailable to play. One went down with injury, the other to unfortunate circumstance.
Collymore highlighted that and how they tightened things up after the morning session on day one yielded 133 runs in 25 overs. “Given the guys were playing their first or second Test match, I must commend how they came back and fought really hard with the ball, Shannon again leading the attack, was a very good effort.”
Except, even in the moments when they showed menace, something happened to undo their plans. Like when Sherman Lewis was troubling Rishabh Pant with his bouncers.
The debutant fast bowler wasn’t exactly digging the short balls in, which gives the batsmen ample opportunity to sway out of the way, but he was still getting them up to the ribcage and slanting them across the left-hander. So if Pant wanted to pull or hook, he’d be hitting against the angle and therefore increasing the chances of a mis-hit. West Indies should have continued with this plan, but instead, they brought their spinners on. Collymore said they were forced to because of the heat in Rajkot.
“It can be difficult, the conditions, in India. I think the subcontinent is a very hard place for any fast bowler, even with experience, hence the captain thought it best to rotate the bowlers a bit more and give them the best chance.”
But the West Indies bowling coach had no sympathy for his team’s batting effort. The opener Kieran Powell played a poor shot to a straight ball and – after being ruled lbw – wasted a review. Shimron Hetmyer and Sunil Ambris were fighting for the same three yards of space even as Ravindra Jadeja skipped in to complete a run-out. Shane Dowrich went for a big heave with four overs left in the day’s play and was bowled.
“I only saw one or two strokes but what I saw is not what you want especially from your top order batsmen chasing 600-plus,” Collymore said. “These things happen in cricket and I hope our guys definitely learn from it. Watching the Indians bat, you can see how they played. They’re accustomed to these conditions, but they showed things that we can all learn from.”
It isn’t the first time a team that had to spend 150 overs fielding first in a Test match has cracked – “it goes back to yesterday, yesterday was a hard day,” Collymore kept saying, but he insisted that the team needed to fight.
“I always feel you need to be honest with yourself. India’s in the ascendancy. This is only day two and we’re already seriously behind the eight ball so it will take a mammoth effort for us to really pull it back. But again you don’t come to Test match cricket to just surrender.” (ESPNCricinfo)