West Indies March 9, 2010

Crumbly tracks, lippy trundlers

Welcome to West Indies v Zimbabwe, where the pitches are lifeless, the batsmen clueless and the crowd cacophonic
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Ray Price: the poor man's Shane Warne © Gallo Images
 

It is easy to criticise the West Indies Cricket Board and it’s fun too. But say what you like about Julian Hunte and chums, you can’t fault their hospitality. For the visit of the Zimbabweans, Caribbean groundsmen have produced some of the flattest, most lifeless strips of earth seen outside of the Sahara, just to make the plucky tourists feel at home. From Kingston to Guyana, it appears that every yard of soil in the West Indies is crumblier than a Madeira cake, and as an additional bonus for touring sides, none of the local players have a clue how to bat on it.

The result is that an apparently ho-hum affair has been turned into an edge-of-the-seat thriller. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be watching this series still, but as the shadows lengthened in Guyana on Sunday, I was gripped. The batsmen crawled painfully to their target, as though spin bowling was some dastardly new invention. Kieron Pollard in particular was an accident waiting to happen. Launching a ball to long-on, the hapless Mumbai Indian had to trudge back to the pavilion under the dead-eyed glare of his captain. The laconic Jeffrey Dujon suggested that Pull Hard might consider getting changed behind the pavilion.

In between the silly shots, the crowd were amusing themselves. Given the blazing heat, some kind of award has to go to the man in the Santa suit, complete with full-length white beard, who marched up and down the stand, playing a musical instrument that looked like it had been knocked up in a shed. Horns were everywhere. At times it sounded like a troupe of performing sea lions had been let loose in a drum shop. All manner of unearthly honks, hoots and bellows were unleashed, particularly when Gayle gave the ball a few healthy taps.

The other sound most often heard was that of clattering wood. The viewer formed the distinct impression that the West Indian players had been practising, so often did they disturb the bails. Indeed, both sides were pretty hot on the ground fielding, with the result that there was more timber demolished at the Providence National Stadium than over a long weekend in the Amazon.

But the best fielder wore red. Tatenda Taibu reminds me of the days when wicketkeepers were magicians. Ball beating bat and bails being removed seems to happen instantaneously, with the little keeper shrieking his celebration from short mid-on before the spectator realises what has happened.

Then there was Ray Price, a man for whom the bowling of a cricket ball is an inconvenience that gets in the way of his sledging. After letting fly, he immediately scurries down the pitch to get up close and personal with the batsman. He then runs through a melodramatic repertoire of glares, frowns, headshakes and insults, before chatting loudly with the umpire, generally behaving like precisely the kind of person you avoid at bus stops. If you haven’t seen him, imagine Shane Warne with less talent. Really, Ray, enough already. Bullying Darren Sammy is nothing to be proud of. The ball boys probably do that during the lunch interval. You have to wonder how the lippy trundler would have fared if he’d tried it on with Viv.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on March 11, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    If Price ever did play Viv, he probably wouldn't survive. Let's just say Viv wasn't built lightly.

  • LOUDER on March 10, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    Funny article written from the shade in the burning heat. Zimbabwe seem like they came to fight unlike sheeps to the slaughter just going through the paces

  • jamshed on March 10, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    Paul Hard reminds me of Ryan Sidebottom.

  • Ngqabutho Moyo on March 10, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    What do u mean by "If you haven’t seen him, imagine Shane Warne with less talent"... Ray is in the top 3 ODI bowlers for a reason. He kept Gayle and Shiv tied down at their ends and rotating the strike wasn't easy against him. Just because he is from Zim it doesn't mean he is less talented. Another person u forgot to mention was Graeme Cremer,... he is going to be one of the top bowlers in international cricket!!!

  • sunil shenoy on March 9, 2010, 23:09 GMT

    Hey Andrew,

    thanks for doing this, I'm a keen follower of Zimbabwe cricket. Although before the start of the series like everyone even I thought this would be a dead rubber with a 5-0 drubbing to Zimbabwe, to say Zimbabwe has surprised will be an understatement, having said that the Windies are playing a perfect host to their guest. Whether its their pathetic display of batting or disastrous fielding ( few guys playing in my backyard will do better than that ).

    All said and done, I guess its high time the Windies board plunges into action and takes some action on such horrible display, to make the matter worse the key players of this already ailing side are injured ( sarwan , bravo etc ).

    With three matches to go.. this will still be an interesting series. I really wont be surprised will the Zim's win this series but they have to play like the way they have played till now..

  • nzcricketfan on March 9, 2010, 20:07 GMT

    Ur totally right about Price, he's very funny, tho a great bowler. Not sure bout t Warne comparison, Warney never seemed so scarily angry...

  • Edson on March 9, 2010, 19:59 GMT

    Well just goes to show where you are from Drew. To call Ray, Warne but without talent is a bit too much. I guess the fact that he was amoungst the top wicket tackers last year is a fact you would comviently want to forget. The fact that England, Australia and New Zealand have pursued a racist agenda against Zim which has but suffocated the game in Zim is also something you would not want to mention. We are proud of our guys and cricket is alive in Zim. Despite the numerous challenges from racist sports administrators to Dictators we will play the beautifull game. Those guys are heroes in our eyes and you ought to give them their due respect for over coming the odds.Pakistan suffers a white wash defeat in Australia we don't here calls for it to be stripped of its test playing status. Bangledesh fails to beat England a feat we managed we don't here calls for its isolation. Enoygh with the hypocrisy and let the boys play. Keep it up Ray...........

  • Ketan Chhatwani on March 9, 2010, 19:20 GMT

    hahahaha....absolutely hilariously written!Well done!

  • tawanda mambazo on March 9, 2010, 19:03 GMT

    why hate on ray...he is actually on of e best spinners in e game nw! it creates a competitive tension btwn e baller & batsman...if e batsman cant handle t...then he def has 2 head back 2 e pavillion! balling ray...we luv ur balling & kip up the drama...go zim

  • Roger on March 9, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    Very good article. As a Guyanese who has been to the stadium I can picture in my mind some of the scenes you wrote about. This series has definitely been more competitive than most people expected, and as a West Indian, I can never understand how we always seem to prepare pitches that help the opposition more than our bowlers, the same thing happened in the Bangladesh series. As Tony Cozier rightly pointed out, spinners always do well in our domestic competition, so its no surprise to see our batsmen struggle against them. very good article tho...keep it up!

  • Andrew on March 11, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    If Price ever did play Viv, he probably wouldn't survive. Let's just say Viv wasn't built lightly.

  • LOUDER on March 10, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    Funny article written from the shade in the burning heat. Zimbabwe seem like they came to fight unlike sheeps to the slaughter just going through the paces

  • jamshed on March 10, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    Paul Hard reminds me of Ryan Sidebottom.

  • Ngqabutho Moyo on March 10, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    What do u mean by "If you haven’t seen him, imagine Shane Warne with less talent"... Ray is in the top 3 ODI bowlers for a reason. He kept Gayle and Shiv tied down at their ends and rotating the strike wasn't easy against him. Just because he is from Zim it doesn't mean he is less talented. Another person u forgot to mention was Graeme Cremer,... he is going to be one of the top bowlers in international cricket!!!

  • sunil shenoy on March 9, 2010, 23:09 GMT

    Hey Andrew,

    thanks for doing this, I'm a keen follower of Zimbabwe cricket. Although before the start of the series like everyone even I thought this would be a dead rubber with a 5-0 drubbing to Zimbabwe, to say Zimbabwe has surprised will be an understatement, having said that the Windies are playing a perfect host to their guest. Whether its their pathetic display of batting or disastrous fielding ( few guys playing in my backyard will do better than that ).

    All said and done, I guess its high time the Windies board plunges into action and takes some action on such horrible display, to make the matter worse the key players of this already ailing side are injured ( sarwan , bravo etc ).

    With three matches to go.. this will still be an interesting series. I really wont be surprised will the Zim's win this series but they have to play like the way they have played till now..

  • nzcricketfan on March 9, 2010, 20:07 GMT

    Ur totally right about Price, he's very funny, tho a great bowler. Not sure bout t Warne comparison, Warney never seemed so scarily angry...

  • Edson on March 9, 2010, 19:59 GMT

    Well just goes to show where you are from Drew. To call Ray, Warne but without talent is a bit too much. I guess the fact that he was amoungst the top wicket tackers last year is a fact you would comviently want to forget. The fact that England, Australia and New Zealand have pursued a racist agenda against Zim which has but suffocated the game in Zim is also something you would not want to mention. We are proud of our guys and cricket is alive in Zim. Despite the numerous challenges from racist sports administrators to Dictators we will play the beautifull game. Those guys are heroes in our eyes and you ought to give them their due respect for over coming the odds.Pakistan suffers a white wash defeat in Australia we don't here calls for it to be stripped of its test playing status. Bangledesh fails to beat England a feat we managed we don't here calls for its isolation. Enoygh with the hypocrisy and let the boys play. Keep it up Ray...........

  • Ketan Chhatwani on March 9, 2010, 19:20 GMT

    hahahaha....absolutely hilariously written!Well done!

  • tawanda mambazo on March 9, 2010, 19:03 GMT

    why hate on ray...he is actually on of e best spinners in e game nw! it creates a competitive tension btwn e baller & batsman...if e batsman cant handle t...then he def has 2 head back 2 e pavillion! balling ray...we luv ur balling & kip up the drama...go zim

  • Roger on March 9, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    Very good article. As a Guyanese who has been to the stadium I can picture in my mind some of the scenes you wrote about. This series has definitely been more competitive than most people expected, and as a West Indian, I can never understand how we always seem to prepare pitches that help the opposition more than our bowlers, the same thing happened in the Bangladesh series. As Tony Cozier rightly pointed out, spinners always do well in our domestic competition, so its no surprise to see our batsmen struggle against them. very good article tho...keep it up!

  • andrew murgatroyd on March 9, 2010, 17:49 GMT

    Oi Hughes, No! Leave off of Ray Price. The man does what he does, and Zim cricket team is better off for it - if hes a poor mans Shane warne, what does that make you? Pretty much every international spin bowler is a poor mans Shane Warne. "Tried it on with Viv?"- gimme a break, Price plays for Zimbabwe, in the year 2010! You picking on him, is different in what way? By being less than an all-time great, he should sit down and shut up?! What hope the rest of us on a Saturday morning. By that same criteria, put your pen away son, you're no Ernest Hemingway. Price can strut his stuff, even if his stuff aint all that, because its his stuff, and thats how he gets his stuff going : if you know what i mean. No Zim fan is ever going to confuse Price with Warne [cheers for the clarification anyways], but we'll take him as he is thank you very much. He'll do! Go the Ray man!

  • vigi on March 9, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    I dunno if i am wrong but this is the worst team in world cricket today.....They lost to Bangladesh , Zimbabwe leave alone Australia....I think even Ireland can beat them now...Plz don`t give them any screen space cause they are the WHIPPING BOYZ now!!!!!!!!!!!! They should be ideally ranked No.10 in the world right now in all the formats of the game!!!!!!!

  • Tyrone on March 9, 2010, 16:40 GMT

    I'm guessing if Ray Price had tried to be so lippy with the likes of Viv or Brian he would have to start his run up from the boundary line, because he would be constantly fetching the ball from the stands.

  • elton mjanana on March 9, 2010, 16:40 GMT

    I think you are just so hung up on your disgust a Zim cricket and will no good about it. I am particularly incensed at you lack of respect for our boys whom I feel have been improving and it went on to show with the way they played against WI. Obviously, you expected WI to give Zim a hiding and w hen it didnt happen, you looked for your scapegoat in a wilted WI at the expense of a disciplined and hard worked spin attack from Zim. Whatever man ... back in Zim we cherish the 2 wins so far (one in the twenty20 match and the other in the 1st one dayer) and look forward to bouncing back to clinch the one day series.

  • FBK on March 9, 2010, 16:09 GMT

    Good piece. I'm not sure how things are for the West Indian fans bat as a Zimbabwean this has been great. We've been on a steady decline for a long time now and the Windies could learn a thing or two from us but at the end of it all cricket is a great equalizer. It's great for Zim to have a decent team sweating spinal fluid playing them no matter how grim the cricket in the Caribbean has been. And good old Pricy is a site for sore eyes for a team like Zim that has seen more passion for the game in monasteries than on the field. Maybe the Reggae boys should drink from the same cup as Ray cause he's so full of fire that I've seen the fire department working on emergency drills.

  • Abdullah AbdulRaheem on March 9, 2010, 15:57 GMT

    Lol that's the exact reason I enjoy this series and most "low-profile" matches. The players really put a lot of effort and it's fun to watch teams regroup. But don't forget Ray Price is the number 2 ranked bowler. He's capable, even vs strong sides. And Darren Sammy is certainly capable as well

  • rp8085 on March 9, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    "Then there was Ray Price, a man for whom the bowling of a cricket ball is an inconvenience that gets in the way of his sledging" - too good!

  • lindani on March 9, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    come on Andrew, Ray is a pretty good bowler and he is giving us a reason to watch back here in Zim...but great article, very funny indeed!

  • Paul Swift on March 9, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    Raymond Price is a new hero of mine - legend

  • Jeremy Grant on March 9, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    "You have to wonder how the lippy trundler would have fared if he'd tried it on with Viv." - I reckon he wouldn't have changed a thing. He'd do it to any batsman. Makes for good viewing. More power to you, Ray.

  • rama on March 9, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    So u mean to say ZIM have won simply because of the pitches but not with their talent is it? I dont see any reason why u should be so harsh on Ray Price, he is such a good bowler

  • Naren on March 9, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    xD I love this article - the extra criticism on Ray Price

  • Ska on March 9, 2010, 12:52 GMT

    "Bullying Darren Sammy is nothing to be proud of. The ball boys probably do that during the lunch interval." - made my day.

  • Xolile on March 9, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    Don't knock Ray Price! Out of the current crop of international players he has the best strike rate by some distance against the 8 leading Test playing nations. Only Dan Vettori gets close. And Ray has the job of bolwing in during the batting powerplays - which make this achievement even more amazing.

  • L.Pearce on March 9, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    the poor man's shane warne? lets not get political now

  • Anonymous on March 9, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    back off ray!.. he is zimbabwe's cricket legend at the moment and as a character or cricketer what more could one want from a guy !VIVA RAY PRICE VIVA!

  • mohsin on March 9, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    ray price is a joker. he needs to concentrate on his bowling more than his weird stares like hes a fast bowler bowling at 160kph regularly

  • Joey on March 9, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    I think Ray does exactly what is needed to maintain pressure on the batting side, imagine how the Windies at their prime used to behave, the quick bowler used to be up in your face and the moment they were hitting for six(rarely) they would bounce then taunt you try it again. Besides Zim is a team on paper that is very experienced but if you look at whom they have been playing against compared to the Windies its a surprise that they haven't been annailated then again 3 more matches to go. I say at the moment Taibu is in the top 5 or 3 wicketkeepers in the world

  • joel maweni on March 9, 2010, 11:27 GMT

    a few facts Ray is currently no 3 on ICC standings, two Zimbabwe are not the best of teams but they certainly have the windies as one of them at the bottom. third point: at the moment we really dont know who will win the series, it is my opinion that zim has more talent than the windy guys:this is not fact but opinion. Lets get back to facts from which statisics can we claim that the Windies are a far better squad than Zimbabwe. I remember a white wash that occurred in South Africa late nineties where they lost miserably and since then what noteworthy statistics has the team not Lara or Gayle but the team done.

  • funnyguy on March 9, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    I suppose that Ray got to number 2 in the world ODI rankings bowling lippy trundlers maybe a few of the english cricketers should try! Zim working hard and deserve a fair shot. Clown!

  • mutinta on March 9, 2010, 11:11 GMT

    go go warriors!!! zimbabwe for life

  • titch on March 9, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    i must say though that your article raises one very good point , that of the animations of the zim side vs that of the west indian side , or rather the non existance of it .shows who believes in themselves more , this series should prove to be the high water mark for these two sides , zim coming into their best decade since the depression , cericketdepression , i mean , and for the west indies ,a confirmation in public of what everyone in private has quietly accepted. good article mate

  • munyaradzi on March 9, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    zimbabwe boys are turning to man.

  • Mohsin Irshad on March 9, 2010, 10:14 GMT

    Funny how you described Ray Price. I think he is slightly better than what you wrote.

  • srinivas on March 9, 2010, 9:42 GMT

    andrew, quite funny..the article is quite refreshing for me after having been reading through some heavy articles like harsha bhogle's conversation with SM and LMODI and people whining about IPL and australia's dominance on newzealand. i see wot you mean in this article coz i ve been followin the matches myself and I am picturing every scene in my mind relating to wot you wrote and boy it makes me laugh...good one.

  • Usman Moorad on March 9, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    Don't be so harsh on ray, he's a pretty good bowler on a decent team. Besides, he gives the viewers one of the few reasons to stay awake.

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  • Usman Moorad on March 9, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    Don't be so harsh on ray, he's a pretty good bowler on a decent team. Besides, he gives the viewers one of the few reasons to stay awake.

  • srinivas on March 9, 2010, 9:42 GMT

    andrew, quite funny..the article is quite refreshing for me after having been reading through some heavy articles like harsha bhogle's conversation with SM and LMODI and people whining about IPL and australia's dominance on newzealand. i see wot you mean in this article coz i ve been followin the matches myself and I am picturing every scene in my mind relating to wot you wrote and boy it makes me laugh...good one.

  • Mohsin Irshad on March 9, 2010, 10:14 GMT

    Funny how you described Ray Price. I think he is slightly better than what you wrote.

  • munyaradzi on March 9, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    zimbabwe boys are turning to man.

  • titch on March 9, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    i must say though that your article raises one very good point , that of the animations of the zim side vs that of the west indian side , or rather the non existance of it .shows who believes in themselves more , this series should prove to be the high water mark for these two sides , zim coming into their best decade since the depression , cericketdepression , i mean , and for the west indies ,a confirmation in public of what everyone in private has quietly accepted. good article mate

  • mutinta on March 9, 2010, 11:11 GMT

    go go warriors!!! zimbabwe for life

  • funnyguy on March 9, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    I suppose that Ray got to number 2 in the world ODI rankings bowling lippy trundlers maybe a few of the english cricketers should try! Zim working hard and deserve a fair shot. Clown!

  • joel maweni on March 9, 2010, 11:27 GMT

    a few facts Ray is currently no 3 on ICC standings, two Zimbabwe are not the best of teams but they certainly have the windies as one of them at the bottom. third point: at the moment we really dont know who will win the series, it is my opinion that zim has more talent than the windy guys:this is not fact but opinion. Lets get back to facts from which statisics can we claim that the Windies are a far better squad than Zimbabwe. I remember a white wash that occurred in South Africa late nineties where they lost miserably and since then what noteworthy statistics has the team not Lara or Gayle but the team done.

  • Joey on March 9, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    I think Ray does exactly what is needed to maintain pressure on the batting side, imagine how the Windies at their prime used to behave, the quick bowler used to be up in your face and the moment they were hitting for six(rarely) they would bounce then taunt you try it again. Besides Zim is a team on paper that is very experienced but if you look at whom they have been playing against compared to the Windies its a surprise that they haven't been annailated then again 3 more matches to go. I say at the moment Taibu is in the top 5 or 3 wicketkeepers in the world

  • mohsin on March 9, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    ray price is a joker. he needs to concentrate on his bowling more than his weird stares like hes a fast bowler bowling at 160kph regularly