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West Indies v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Guyana
Michael Holding: Windies' batting was lackadaisical
March 26, 2008
The West Indies batting line-up failed to apply themselves, while Sri Lanka were deserving winners
 
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The West Indies' batsmen failed to apply themselves, and lost their way after lunch on the final day © AFP
 

Ranjit Shinde: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk, this is Ranjit Shinde, and I have with me the former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding to talk about the historic win for Sri Lanka in the first Test in Guyana.

Michael, a nail-biting finish but Sri Lanka prevailed to secure their first Test victory on Caribbean soil ... a memorable moment for Mahela Jayawardene's team.

Michael Holding: It certainly was a great moment for them and a good victory. They played the better cricket [as compared to West Indies] over the five days of the Test and they deserved to win. West Indies will have to sit down and take a serious look at themselves, especially the way they batted in both innings. They had a very good partnership between [Ramnaresh] Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo, that put on over 100 runs for the second wicket, but apart from that, the batting was not what you would expect from a reasonably good batting line-up on a very docile pitch. The Sri Lankan bowlers did very well - Chaminda Vaas and [Muttiah] Muralitharan, their two most experienced players - they stuck to their guns and put on a good performance.

RS: You spoke about Bravo right at the top of the order, Sarwan, and then Chris Gayle hanging in there, almost managing to salvage a draw. Did it all come too late?

MH: Yes, it all came too late but at the same time you have to acknowledge the fact that Gayle, having shifted himself from the opening position to No. 6, must have come in with a great deal of pressure on his shoulders. He walked out there this afternoon with his team looking as if they might lose the Test. There is so much talk going around in the Caribbean and the whole world, so much speculation over him having changed his batting position and he would have been under a great deal of pressure. He went out there; he weathered the storm and he remained not out at the end.

But as I said, overall, the [West Indies] batting line-up should feel very ashamed of themselves, especially being bowled out twice on the pitch here in Guyana. This is the sort of pitch where if you don't get runs at least you should be able to survive. It was slow; strokeplay wasn't easy, and at the same time it was very difficult for the bowlers under all circumstances - whether you were a fast bowler or a spinner. Any batsman worth his salt, once he gets in on a pitch like that, should be able to bat for hours. They didn't manage to do that; they batted poorly in the first innings with some injudicious strokeplay costing them quite a few of their wickets, and in the second innings, they looked a bit lackadaisical after lunch; they lost a few wickets and then everything fell apart.

RS: You spoke about the West Indies batting line-up going awry in the first innings in spite of conditions being good for batting; do you think there were too many soft dismissals?

MH: When I saw West Indies batting in the first innings, I got this impression that they thought to themselves, "These are ideal batting conditions, we don't have to work hard to get runs in these conditions." Once complacency sets in, you don't do your job well, you don't concentrate as hard as you should and you lapse into some sort of half-way house at times instead of getting your feet into the correct position and batting normally and you get yourself into trouble. Some of the shots that the batsmen played [indicated] that they were thinking, "The ball is doing absolutely nothing; all I have got to do is look at the ball and play; I don't need to get my body into the correct position to play his shot." That was their downfall in the first innings.

RS: Sarwan, playing his first game after the injury, batted well in both innings, yet he failed to convert it into a big score - that, perhaps, has been the story of his career, hasn't it?

 
 
The West Indies batting line-up should feel very ashamed of themselves, especially being bowled out twice on the pitch here in Guyana. This is the sort of pitch, where if you don't get runs, at least you should be able to survive
 

MH: Pretty much so. Sarwan needs to start getting some big scores; he needs to start getting centuries and the big centuries. Apart from that, he came back into the team having not played a lot of cricket at the highest level recently. He came back, in reasonably good form and batted well in the first innings and was on his way to putting up another very good score in the second innings. I think he was unfortunate to be given out in that manner. To my eyes, that ball would have missed leg stump by another three to four inches. But that is part of the game.

Sarwan has been known to get good starts on many occasions but not seeing it right through to the end; he needs to really buckle down and start getting big scores. He has been around a long time; he is no longer a young man in this team - he is perhaps the second or third-most experienced cricketer in this current West Indian team. It is now time for him to put up his hand and say, "Okay, it is time for me to show everyone that I am one of the leaders in this batting line-up," and he is not quite doing that.

RS: You spoke about Sarwan's marginal decision. Do you think West Indies were bit hard done by a couple of decisions?

MH: Well in my opinion, I think they got two bad decisions; I don't think Ryan Hinds was out either. But as I said, that is part and parcel of the game. You will get good decisions sometimes and you will get bad decisions. That doesn't excuse the poor batting. Twenty wickets fell - not just those two - and as I said, only two of those batsmen could think that they were hard done by. What about the other 18 wickets? You have to give Sri Lanka credit for doing their job; the West Indian batsmen did not do theirs.

RS: Marlon Samuels failed in both the innings - what do you reckon is the problem with him; why he has not been able to deliver consistently for the team?

MH: I think Samuels needs to be given a rest until the controversy concerning him and this supposed bookmaker in India is resolved. I don't see Samuels performing as well as he can with this still hanging over his head. When you look at Samuels at the crease, he looks like a lost man. He is obviously not concentrating on his job; he is obviously thinking about peripheral things, other things that are affecting his mind that won't allow him to bat properly. Until they [the West Indies board] resolve this problem. I think he needs to take a seat on the side because there is no point in being out here if he cannot fully concentrate on his job.

RS: Moving on to the bowlers, Jerome Taylor was impressive for West Indies - five wickets in the game and he did hang in there when it mattered. He is a fine young talent who is applying himself, perhaps a cue for one or two other West Indian bowlers?

MH: I think Taylor is the best West Indian bowler in this team right now. Fidel Edwards was not selected because they [the selectors] thought that these conditions certainly wouldn't suit him and perhaps you will look back on this situation and say "okay, Edwards is one of those bowlers who can reverse-swing the ball," and we saw what that was doing for Sri Lanka later on when they had a that half-shine. Perhaps they [the selectors] will look back and think about the possibility about how Edwards could have been effective later on with the half-shine ball. But those are things that you look back to in hindsight.

Taylor is the best of the West Indies bowlers. He has shown that over the last year or 18 months and although Daren Powell is not a bad bowler, he is not as effective as Taylor.


Though there wasn't much help for the bowlers, Chaminda Vaas used all his experience and toiled away © AFP
 
They played a [left-arm] spinner, Sulieman Benn, who in my opinion, bowled as well as you would expect him to bowl. He is not a world-class spinner; he is someone just making his debut and he obviously has a lot to learn. Hopefully he will be given the opportunity to play more matches and to learn as he goes along.

This West Indies bowling line-up is not dynamic. It doesn't have the experience of the Sri Lankan bowling line-up with someone like Vaas, and of course Murali, who, between them have over 1000 Test wickets. And if this is what we [West Indies] have got, then this is what we have to make the most of.

RS: For Sri Lanka, Vaas and Muralitharan - the two old horses playing for the last time on West Indian soil, made their presence count and so did young Thilan Tushara, playing in his second game. What did you make of Sri Lanka's bowling?

MH: I just pointed out - those two gentlemen are very experienced and they are accustomed to playing under these harsh conditions, when there isn't a great deal of assistance for the bowlers and they toiled away. I think Tushara played very well as well. He bowled well; he was very good in the field - that first catch that dismissed Devon Smith in the second innings was brilliant. And he pulled his weight and supported Vaas very well at the other end. He [Tushara] looks a promising bowler as well.

RS: Michael, Sarwan spoke about the slowness of the pitch and how his team would have liked a bit more pace and bounce. Was this a pitch that suited Sri Lanka more?

MH: Well, perhaps you could say Sri Lanka are more accustomed to pitches like this but at the same time, that is not any reason to be saying, "Okay we lost". There is no way you can use that as an excuse for West Indies' loss.

West Indies played bad cricket. It is as simple as that. When they had the match in their hands to go out there and to make runs on a flat, docile, unresponsive pitch, they did not. It is as simple as that.

RS: Finally, one more Test to go. What are the changes that you would like to see in the West Indies team, and can Gayle's team make a comeback in the series?

MH: Gayle's team can make a comeback in the series. I think the pitch in Trinidad will certainly be a bit more responsive. Who knows exactly what [kind of a] pitch will be prepared over there. Sometimes the pitch starts off without any amount of green grass that assists the seam bowlers. We don't know what the pitch is going to be like.

What changes will they make, well that is another matter. Hinds is unlikely to play because if he had a hamstring problem today. It is unlikely that he will be fit enough to play in a week's time. So they will have to find someone to replace Hinds. In the opening position, who knows what is going to be happening with that as well? Devon Smith has failed again. We don't know what they [the team management] will be doing with Gayle - whether he will go back to opening the batting or will he want to bat at No. 6. I don't like the idea of Bravo opening the batting, because I think he won't make too many runs on pitches that offer more assistance to the bowlers.

So, West Indies have a lot of questions to answer. Exactly who they will be selecting to replace Hinds; who they will be selecting to be the opening batsman; who they will be selecting to do the bowling? Edwards, in my book, should be coming back to the team. There are lots of things that could happen.

RS: Michael, thank you very much for your views.

Comments: 22 
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Posted by Nipun on (March 28, 2008, 3:58 GMT)

West Indies always lose,so why is there the fuss ??? It would be a wonder if they can save the series.West Indies,since Carl Hooper backed away,have never looked like a team;they are more a collection of 11 players who look lost in the game.

Posted by TheSriLankan on (March 28, 2008, 3:03 GMT)

West Indies is currently in bad form. SL just returned fresh from the CB Series after defeating Australia in the last game. The SLankans obviously feel very confident and it's hard to beat SL when they're so full of confidence and form.

Posted by Guybiz on (March 27, 2008, 23:22 GMT)

I think that Chris Gayle did not stand up to his responsibility as a premier batsman and as the captain of the West Indies.Never in my life have I seen a senior internationa cricketer instead of covering a taolender was covering himself.At seven overs to go the West Indies should have been able to hold on for a draw.I wonder where is Chris Gayle going to hide at Queens Park Oval(from Chaminda Vaas).

Posted by denzel on (March 27, 2008, 23:04 GMT)

THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY DON'T CARE A DAMN TEAM. The West Indies is a team containing good class and potential but their inconsistent scoring and don't care a damn attitude got them where they are.For once in a while Gayle plays an important role other than that he comes to the wicket and plays lackadaisical shots and gets out.That was just pathetic proformance against the lankans.More local cricket could help but most of all the West Indies concentration is key.Let Gayle and Chanderpaul open as in the one day,let Gayle attack the bowlers playing proper orthodox shots and Chanderpaul playing a supporting role.West Indies take the test match approach by batting alot of balls without scoring and still get out by playing some stupid shot so its best they just attack in the fist place.

Posted by dineshasanka on (March 27, 2008, 22:53 GMT)

This is the fifth test match Sri Lanka played in West Indian soil. It says all how Sri Lanka is treated by WI. But you should respect all the other former sri lanka players like , Arjun, Aravida, Mahanama, Asanka, Hashan, Marvan who brought Sri Lanka cricket to this level. Hats off to current players.

Posted by Bullerman on (March 27, 2008, 22:51 GMT)

Congrats to SL. As a West Indian, I continue to be embarrassed by our mediocrity and lack of professionalism. They have little ability to bowl out a side, let alone get 400 runs in an innings. The demise is sad, but there really no hope of recovery - no matter the odd talented player. With the focus of the game shifting to India and professional leagues conflicting with the Caribbean season, it is only a matter of time when the West Indies team is a memory. All SL fans, enjoy a whitewash on this tour as it may be one of the last time the team will be going there.

Posted by SomeCents on (March 27, 2008, 21:25 GMT)

Indeed the batsmen were lackadaisical. Samuels was in space; Chanderpaul seemed devoid of life; Devon Smith will never get the plot; Ramdhin continues to be a hit or miss; Bravo seems satisfied with little cameos; And Sarwan just didn't get it done. The positive must be that WI still took the game into the final minutes.

As for Sri Lanka: a clearly superior team with 4 world bests. However, not a likable team, behaving like a pack of hyenas on that final day. Success should not come at the expense of class. And Mr. Muralitharan, your ever constant smile is the devil's grin. The one that spins a lot more, the much faster one, the one that turns a lot the other way, all usually a result of excessive flexion, not only from the wrist. And please trying to be cute when appealing for no reason. Muralitharan is cricket's Barry Bonds. The greatest, that should never have been.

Posted by jlow on (March 27, 2008, 20:46 GMT)

I don't expect Michael Holding to say too much detracting about the team in an interview, but he still does not seem to be holding Gayle's feet to the fire as he used to do with Lara. After all what kind of leadership did Gayle show by coming in at number 6 and then exposing the last two batsmen by refusing outright to run for singles? His excuses were absolute rubbish. And anyone who has been following cricket and Gayle in particular should admit that this is the real Gayle. Not the one that lead us so well in the last series...that was an aberration. West Indies fans are so desperate for any glimmer that they are grabbing on to anything that shines but remember all that glitters is not gold......it might be gold plated and lead on the inside. The sad thing is that one of the only men of REAL character who was appointed captain i.e Chanderpaul, was completely sabotaged in the position. We need real leadership not a pick up captain and all this is the fault of the management WICB.

Posted by seshakcg on (March 27, 2008, 20:44 GMT)

Yeah obviously it was a very good win for the Lankans thier first win in the Carribean Soil.From the West Indies Side only Bravo showed some resistance and others directly surrendered to the Mighty Lankans..Eventhough Srilanka won this match there were few positives which the W.I can take especially the promotion of Bravo Top of the order-he held the innings together before that dismissl to Murali...So ceylonese end the carribean Dearth lets c what is going to happen in the next test.But one must also give credit to the S.L ground fielding(Which has improved a Lot in the past 2 years) so keep it Up Jaya Boys we are looking forward to another Hard Fought Contest Gayle->Commiserations to you

Posted by chuBBs1965 on (March 27, 2008, 18:35 GMT)

Chanderpaul needs to fire in order to help the West Indians to make a big score. Chattergoon needs to open the batting, Gayle needs to bat down the order, Edwards need to come back into the team. Bravo should not open the batting he is better at number five. Try Darren Ganga with opening the batting for the last time.

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