West Indies v Zimbabwe: Immediate Reactions after first Test match

Colin Croft

March 22, 2000

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David Houghton - Zimbabwe's Cricket Coach:

"We led for four days and about one session, and in the last two hours, got bowled out brilliantly. Remember, it is never over until the fat lady sings. She tuned up well today. The West Indies fast bowlers, Walsh, Ambrose, King and Rose were magnificent. They bowled 47 overs, and there was hardly a ball to be hit anywhere off the square. The fact that we are all out was one thing, but we only scored 63 runs.

It was a great example of disciplined line and length bowling from the West Indian fast bowlers. There was not much I could do today. Today was all about the players on the field being able to control their nerves well and see the game through. It was a very nervous time for me. I actually went and took a walk around the block as the tension was getting to me. I simply could not watch at one stage. At the end of the day, we simply were not strong enough mentally. We simply did not seem to have that belief in our ability to win. We have only won 3 Tests in our short history.

We did not have that belief today. The more the pressure mounted, the more the effort flowed into the West Indies and the more it ebbed out of us. I hope that this does not keep us down for too long. At least we are a young side, and we do try and learn from our results. I am just hoping that in Jamaica, we get on to a pitch which is more fluent in runs.

Those runs tended to dry up here at Trinidad. The last 16-17 wickets fell for about 90 runs. It was not exactly a high-scoring game. Our positives were that we actually bowled and batted with some discipline too, for about three-quarters of the game. Our bowlers were particularly impressive in both innings, and Andy Flower innings was very gutsy indeed. We have got to work on our batting a bit, to be quite honest, but I hope that we can get a pitch in Jamaica which would allow us to play a few more shots."

David Rudder - Calysonian & Composer/Singer of the West Indies Cricket Team anthem `Rally 'round the West Indies':

"We finally woke up and started the battle today. If we can continue to play the way we played this morning, then I think that we are halfway there. History helped us today. We tend to fight when our backs are against the wall. I remember that one-off game against South Africa in 1992 in Barbados. It was a similar situation. I think that, mentally, some of the old hands who played in that game remembered the effort and passed it on to the youths of the team.

The old guys led the way. Look, I know that (Curtly) Ambrose, psychologically, knows the (Queens Park) Oval is his ground, in a sense. (Franklyn) Rose, in the meantime, really rose to the occasion. Forgive the pun. That was the difference. The outfielding was way ahead of what we have been doing for a long time. If a man is good and he is 45 years old, and he is performing, and the others cannot come up to standard, you keep that man. With all the joy of victory, I think that we still need to look seriously at our batting. We still have to correct a lot of things there. Although I have the anthem for Westr Indies cricket, for which I feel pretty honored, I feel pretty good about this win, so I would want to dedicate my new song "It does not get any better than this" to the West Indies team."

Roger Harper - New cricket coach of the West Indies cricket team:

"Look, I am very delighted at this win, but this is not about me. The focus should not be on me. I am just one of the support team behind the team on the field. They went out there and they got the job done. All along, these guys wanted to show everyone that they loved playing for the West Indies, and are committed to turning things around. They did just that today. On that last night, instead of focussing on the fact that we did not get as many runs as we may have wanted, we decided that whatever score we had on the scoreboard, they (Zimbabwe) still had to make them to win.

Whatever we had, had to be enough. We could not add any more to it. Whatever we ended up with, we were prepared to go out there and defend it. The guys stuck to the plan and were very disciplined. They bowled magnificently as a unit and we fielded with great enthusiasm and passion. You could not ask for anything better. I am not really worried about the batting, but, yes, I think that we must pay a lot of attention to the batting.

We need to get some more runs on the scoreboard. We can see improvements in certain areas. The players are giving us, the new management team, their full support and the players are responding very well. They have been showing a lot of commitment and effort and we really cannot fault them. In the recent past, we just were not getting the results and sometimes the production we wanted in the run department, buy we also believe that with the continued disciplined approach with the batting, it will come."

Curtly Ambrose - Veteran West Indian Fast Bowler and `Man of the Match':

"We knew that we did not have as many runs as we would have liked. It should always be very difficult to defend 98 runs at Test level or any kind of cricket and it was here too. We came out this morning, knowing within ourselves that if we get a good start, get a couple of early wickets, we could put pressure on the Zimbabweans and then anything could happen. In the end, we prevailed.

I have had some good success over the years at the Queens Park Oval. It is one of my favorite grounds, really. I have normally done well here. It was a uphill struggle. When Franklyn Rose came in and got four wickets, that turned the game. We were then able to capitalize and come out winners. Winning by 35 runs was much too close for comfort, actually. They showed that they have some fight in them and that if they have the right discipline, then they could give us a run for our money. We have not been scoring much runs lately, and we have to go back to the drawing board and to find a way to scoring more runs.

What happened at the end here will not happen every day. The bowlers especially hope that we can get more runs in Jamaica. Lots of people think that at 36 and 37, that both Courtney Walsh and myself are way past it. I do not think so. We may not be bowling as quickly as we used to, but we are very experienced, and I believe that we still have very much cricket left in us and we do not want to leave West Indian cricket without knowing that the youngsters can carry on the job. We want to make sure that when we leave, they would be fully ready. I do not know when I will stop playing.

If I can maintain my health and my form, and continue to help West Indies win matches, then I will go on for a while. I cannot say when I will leave. I will take it game by game."

Zimbabwe's captain - Andy Flower:

"I am very disappointed at this result. That's the way it goes sometimes. We knew when we won the toss and fielded first that we were leaving ourselves open to batting last on a wearing pitch, a pitch that was going to keep somewhat low. I thought that the West Indian fast bowlers bowled superbly. They did not give the batsmen anything to score from and built pressure that way. The variation of the pitch caught people in front of the stumps and occasionally went under the bat. But we probably got a bit too defensive and we should have tried to reverse the pressure somewhat.

We should have gotten that 99 runs though, no doubt of that. We won most of the first four days and then capitulated on the last. We have got to be stronger than that. We must be better than that under pressure. We have heard that the pitch at Sabina Park in Jamaica helps the faster bowlers even more but I reckon that we can compete with these guys.

We should have won this one. We now have to put this result behind us and most importantly, learn from it. We certainly can take wickets against these guys and if we show a bit of guts, then we can make big runs against these guys. I would have loved to have taken the winner's trophy from here, but there are lots of lessons you learn when you are playing Test cricket or even One Day Internationals, when you are playing against quality opposition. Hopefully the guys will take lessons away from this game for the next."

West Indies' captain - Jimmy Adams:

"I am very happy indeed to win this game. I am particularly happy for the effort put in by the guys to win the game. Sometimes, we put in the effort and do not always get the results. This time, the result paralleled the effort and we are all very delighted. Sometimes when you are facing the situation which we were facing this morning, sometimes it draws the best out of players. This was one of those times.

Brian Lara has always been a great influence and will always be. His presence in the dressing room was important and very welcomed. We need to start putting more runs on the score board, but I am confident that we have the players to do it and I am confident that the runs will be coming. It is too early to get into that 2nd Test match now. Right now, we are on 'Cloud 9', so we need a couple of hours to come down a little bit. I have not even thought that far. In the next few days, we will go over this game very objectively, analyze it well, and see what we come up with, but it is a bit too early to get into that. The four fast bowlers bowled really well.

With all respects to Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, I cannot have enough praise for Reon King and Franklyn Rose. In the end, they maintained the same amount of pressure that the two old guys did, and I think that it is a wonderful sign for the future. I think that the team is doing very well under the circumstances. We have not been together that long, but I think that everyone is learning fast and everyone is committed to improving in every area. Most of that improvement is teamwork.

Once every player buys into the putting in the effort, then we cannot ask any more. Definitely, we are very positive. The bottom line is that we always want to win, irrespective of what team or what management structure or what captain we have, we want to win. I went to a specialist this morning and the knee structure is intact. It will be sore, but it is sound. Barring anything unfortunate, the specialist was very confident that everything will be okay. Winning always eases the pain (laugh)."

Dr. Rudi Webster - Newly appointed sports psychologist/performance enhancer of the West Indies cricket team:

"It was a fabulous victory, almost as good as the Barbados victory last year against Australia. Last night, the chaps were a little bit down, but we said to them that we had done this several times before, and we then went through the history of the times when we had come back and won. By the end of the meeting, they genuinely started to believe in themselves. Somehow, the feeling was there.

There was no real rational reason for it, but we felt as though we were going to win. This team has improved in a lot of ways. Of course they did not bat as well as they should have, but at least they have been patient. What we have been preaching to them, particularly Roger Harper, at the camp, was that patience, persistence and sticking to the basics were important to get the best out of the camp and the players.

Most teams probably would have given in on this last day. We had a full commitment from the players. All of the players suggested that whatever we had on the score board, was enough. When you heard that from Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and then you heard Franklyn Rose exclaim 'We did this against India last year, so we can do it again,' and even Reon King, who is so very "quiet", put up his hand and said, simply, 'We are going to beat these people', you had the feeling that something would happen.

The four fast bowlers were fantastic. They backed up their word. I was very proud of "Kingy", "Rosey", "Amby" and "Walshy". Whereas in the first innings, when the two vintage bowlers had done so well, the two younger ones let themselves and the team down, the second innings was different. On the final day, Rose and King probably bowled better than the two front line bowlers. Let us look at the entire picture. The team spirit is fantastic.

We have a highly motivated team. One might say that the ability might not be as it was perhaps ten years ago, but I believe that if we can marshal what ability we have and really have the players working at optimum, then we can give a great account of ourselves. In New Zealand, they played well below their potential. Overall, the West Indies have been playing well below what they are capable of. We may not have brilliant players in our batting line-up, but if we can get each one of those guys to play and bat near to his potential, give us a regular half century at least, then I think that we will be very competitive.

However, we are not deluding ourselves with this win. We know that at the end of every contest, there is another one starting, and everyone has to start from that point again. We now have to prepare all over again for the 2nd Test."

Courtney Walsh - Veteran West Indian fast bowler:

"It is just good to get a Test match win under our belts. I think it was a great way to welcome Curtly back into the team. I had not played with him for a while, so it was nice for him to come in and to start winning again. I am a bit disappointed that he got so many wickets instead of me, but, on a serious note, it was great to see him back.

Yes, we, the old veterans held our own well. Even more pleasing was that young Franklyn Rose and Reon King came through. In New Zealand, "Kingy" bowled magnificently. He bowled just as well here, even though the wickets did not show for his tremendous efforts. I think that it shows well for the future to see that our young fast bowlers are still so committed to the effort. Rose did not bowl so well in New Zealand, but he has come back well. I am happy that we are still around while these guys are coming through. We know now that we have enough guys to take our places. We definitely will have better things for the future.

It was really good for the team to win this game. With Brian (Lara) not around, our best batsman, many people were suggesting that we would not do well. Obviously, we have not been scoring enough runs recently, but to win a Test match without Brian is a great feeling. Whenever he comes back, he will add a bit more depth to our batting. This win will give the youngsters some confidence, I am sure. Young Wavell Hinds have done well under pressure here and did not do too badly.

We really have to support the youngsters and given the opportunity, with some competition for places, our batting will come and dominate as it used to. It was not a plan, but it would be a "dream come through" for me to break that record in Jamaica. I wanted to get some more wickets here so that it would not be so difficult in Jamaica. I now have to work a lot harder to get that record. It would be wonderful to achieve that in front of my home crowd and supporters.

I hope that Sabina Park will be full and that I can achieve the record there. We went to bed last night with the exact feeling that we can and will win the game. Once we did the basics right, those 99 that Zimbabwe needed would always have been difficult. I actually told the coach that if Zimbabwe are to get this total, then they will have to bat and bat like hell.

The runs were already on the score board, so all we had to do was work and work hard, and we should win. We did not know much of the Zimbabweans in the 1st innings, but we learned quickly in the 2nd to get stuck into them. We discussed it at length and it worked. We talked to each other in the field of play and we are all working together.

Being the senior guy, I tend to look out for most of the signs where I can help the youngsters. Everyone is listening and trying to do the right thing. The youngsters are very willing to try something. The fitness was not a problem. I had a bit of flu in the camp, so I had to really work hard, with lots of liquids, to get through the hot afternoon.

It was really good for us to have those rain breaks so that I could recover somewhat. It seems that we play better under pressure, but to be honest, we do not want it. We would prefer that we have no pressure but still win. We, the bowlers, would really like to see some more runs on the board, so that the bowlers do not have to work so damned hard. The team was totally committed.

It was really a moral booster for us, after New Zealand. The crowds' support, on every day, was fantastic. The crowds did not have to come out to support us. We had not done so well in New Zealand and no Trinidadian was playing here, but they came and supported anyway, about 4000 per day. We are very grateful for the help of the crowds."

These West Indian players did well. They need all of the support that they can get. Let us give it to them, please.

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