West Indies in England 2012

Gibson targets gradual improvement

Nagraj Gollapudi

May 3, 2012

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

It was an interesting question put to Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach. What would he consider to be a successful series for his side in England? Gibson started by admitting the visitors would have a tough time against the No. 1 Test team in cold conditions, before finishing his answer with a witty retort. "The last time we played at Lord's, I was in the England dressing room, and the game was over in two-and-a-half days. If we can take this Lord's Test to four days, that will be great," Gibson said pithily.

Gibson cannot, and does not, have a defeatist mindset. He was simply being realistic as he made it clear immediately that West Indies have a far better chance during the ODI leg of the tour considering the squad would be bolstered by the return from the IPL of first choice players like Chris Gayle.

"It seems that not much is expected of us, which is good, in a sense. We can just go out and play and enjoy our cricket," Gibson said from Hove, a day after landing in England. "We know what we are capable of. The Test series is going to be tough but we believe we have a one-day team that is more than capable of winning the ODI series. The one-day series is where I think the success is more likely to happen."

However Gibson assured that West Indies would aim to be competitive during the three-Test series, starting at Lord's on May 17. Gibson, who was the England bowling coach during West Indies' 2009 tour, has taken the same kind of approach he learned under Andy Flower. Gibson has remained his own man, taken hard decisions and not relented despite the outside pressure since taking the coaching reigns with West Indies. His public criticism of Gayle as soon as he took over is still raw.

Darren Sammy and Ottis Gibson answer questions, press conference, Hove, May 3, 2012
Darren Sammy and Ottis Gibson concede that England will be difficult opponents for their developing side © PA Photos

Gibson has laid emphasis on installing a professional platform in the West Indies dressing room, giving priority to fitness above anyone and anything. He did not relent when a senior batsman like Ramnaresh Sarwan was dropped after a bad bout of form; he only played the hardworking Ravi Rampaul in one Test against Australia as the fast bowler was not completely fit.

Gibson's biggest supporter in the team has been Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, and the coach's right-hand man. Today Gibson sat to his left and Sammy vocally described the respect for his coach.

Though 'Gayle v WICB' dominated the headlines over the last 12 months, in the background Gibson and Sammy worked hard to establish an atmosphere where every player put the group ahead of himself.

Even though West Indies did not cause any major upsets, they have come close. Last year during the Test series in India, in Delhi and then Mumbai, the batsmen posted a good first-innings score only to lose their spine in the third innings; the same mistake was repeated in Barbados against Australia this April. They lost both those series.

England, and England in May, will not be forgiving. The same cold and damp conditions experienced in 2009 have been forecast this time around, too. Only three players - Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Denesh Ramdin and Fidel Edwards - in the current 15-member squad toured England on the last trip. Still, the visitors are not exactly shivering in the cold. Sammy is not bothered by inexperience or the elite status of the opponent. He believes his fast-bowling attack, comprising Kemar Roach, Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul and the young, untested Shannon Gabriel, is capable of giving England a scare.

"Oh, yes, no doubt," Sammy responded, when asked if the fast bowlers can cause problems for England's batsmen. "We have been taking 20 wickets in Test cricket for the last year-and-a-half. I must give coach Gibson credit for that. All the bowlers commend him on the work he has been doing with the bowlers. We are a much improved bowling team. The conditions up here do tend to aid fast bowling and swing bowling and I am quite confident that our guys can put the English batsmen under pressure."

Darren Sammy is congratulated after dismissing Shane Watson, West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Roseau, 1st day, April 23, 2012
Captain Sammy has overseen an overhaul of West Indies' team attitudes © Associated Press

At the same time Sammy willingly admitted his own top order is more than vulnerable, as seen against Australia during the three Tests at home earlier in April. "It is a fair comment. Stats don't lie. Our top order did not click against Australia, but the selectors have shown faith in two of them [Adrian Barath and Kieran Powell]. They are quite young, they are still learning on the job. Yes, they will fail sometimes. But there is one thing we won't do and that is give in. We are going to come out there and work hard for every run and every wicket."

Gibson, too, echoes Sammy's words, but highlighted the fact that it is important to erase errors to make progress. "If we can eradicate some of those mistakes, I think we've shown enough of ourselves that we can be competitive here in England."

Despite England's lukewarm Test form, losing 3-0 against Pakistan and then fighting back to level the series in Sri Lanka, both Gibson and Sammy are not under any illusions. Both agree England are No. 1 in the Test rankings for a reason. They said they are more concerned with getting their own house in order.

This is part of the new culture, Sammy pointed out, which someone like Gayle will need to fall in line with: the culture of discipline, hardwork and focus and team bonding.

"Guys work hard for each other," Sammy said. "Ever since coach Gibson came on board he has tried to instil the professional attitude. One of our team mottos is to display a positive, can-do attitude at all the times. As you could see the way we have played recently, normally when we have had our backs against the wall we would kind of crumble. But so far, somehow we have found a way to get out of the situation. That is because of the constant drilling of the team, that is why that is happening. The whole mindset about doing it for the West Indies people, the guys are taking it on board. That is at the forefront of our minds."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (May 6, 2012, 20:00 GMT)

Keep on doing what you're doing Sammy! Great!

Posted by VivGilchrist on (May 6, 2012, 0:18 GMT)

Here's an idea.... Fix up the game domestically first. Too many teams not playing enough first class matches, pitches are terrible, and the best players are never available. Fix these and there will be a flow on effect on WI performance internationally.

Posted by   on (May 5, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

Hold up seriously.............So what Sammy's saying is Gayle is not Discipline, Hardworking, professional and a team player? hmmm interesting. Now how would someone like that be seeked by teams all over the world, come on Sammy be real. What are you really saying? Whats this all about? Also whats the purpose of playing the sport? to win or to just work hard? Gibson should focus on instilling winning values in the players. forget ya'll personal agendas and build West Indies cricket

Posted by   on (May 5, 2012, 11:48 GMT)

Here we go again - fans and analysts instilling much objective critique as we change captains again! In my memory, only the appointments of Reifer, Chanderpaul and Richardson were not well received, each coming on the heels of significant tumult. Sammy admittedly will have a longer honeymoon than the others, but when all the results are in, perhaps this aforementioned, adoring audience will FINALLY see that our (read: the WICB) inability to develop the game locally is the reason for our persistent mediocrity!

Posted by ajay912 on (May 5, 2012, 4:17 GMT)

Sammy should not captain the test team he does not deserve to be in the team ramdin should captain get two better openers since they not performing and 3 quick bowlers rampaul roach and Edwards should all play in the team with shillingford we will win more matches with this combination

Posted by VivGilchrist on (May 4, 2012, 23:25 GMT)

Gibson is instilling the right attitude into the team. This attitude is prevalent with Australia, South Africa, and England - the top 3 teams. If Gayle,Sarwan, Taylor(if he ever gets fit) etc can accept this strong TEAM attitude WI will be up there with these teams. You cannot rely on talent alone...just look at India.

Posted by   on (May 4, 2012, 21:32 GMT)

gibson and sammy has llow expectation,the wi public at large wants to win. how can they expect to win when the captain cannot make the team on merit, how can they expect to win when the team is not the best wi can put on the field. where is sarwan,nash,and gayle. gibson may be a good bowling coach but a head coach,he is not.

Posted by   on (May 4, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

Fully agree that Gayle must fit into the current TEAM, he is a star player and he has to do what he has to do, but not at the detriment of the team. That is why there is only one Tiger, he just goes out and bat, little talk.

Gayle is a great player having good 20/20 form, he owes this team a lot. I think the realization that he may never play for the West Indies again if this had gone on much longer finally struck him. I applaud him giving up his Somerset contract to represent in the maroon cap.

Posted by   on (May 4, 2012, 16:09 GMT)

Gibson and Sammy please continue the good work you have guys are doing. I am please that you have generate a philosophy. It is about time that you guys understand that cricket is all that we have in the Caribbean and we have been hurt to many times. We have improved.It is sad to say that we do not have the result to justify that claim but if the critics do not want to admit at least we know our opponents are getting that message. We are no walk over any longer. We just need to get better with our batting. But I am so admiring the attitude.

Posted by decaby on (May 4, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

our bowling will get better only if there are three quicks in the team ... The Captain has to bat 6... if the Coach wants improvements he needs to get his head out of the sand and pick a winning team... its true WI has improved but are WI gonna settle with playing 4 days of cricket... comon OTis is the the never give in your captain is talking about...

Posted by   on (May 4, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

Is Darren Sammy the worst player ever to captain The West Indies? For all his smiling, cajoling and sayingof the right things at the right times, nothing can take away from the fact that he is, frankly, rubbish. The sooner the likes of Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine are able to play for the region, the better. Perhaps it would be an idea for the WICB top brass to take a bit of a pay cut in the interests of enticing the region's best players to represent West Indies full time?

Posted by wifan16 on (May 4, 2012, 12:59 GMT)

I will say they're improving when chanderpaul isn't the only one making runs!!

Posted by   on (May 4, 2012, 7:39 GMT)

I am very curious why is it Sammy is talking about hard work , professional and discipline in his press conference this doesn't smell right I have the feeling Sammy is uncomfortable with Gayle coming back in the team. Sammy don't worry Gayle is going to make you look better as a captain just remember in your first test as captain in Tri Lanka Gayle" HARD WORK, DISCIPLINE and PROFESSIONALISM" almost gave you a victory with his 333.

Posted by simonviller on (May 4, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

@Westindies Willow ! I agree with most of your comments here . I firmly believe that ,had our top order [openers ] been able to post good scores ,the rest of our batting would have done ,enought of a job , to beat the Australians .... May I also add that the under-appriciated Sammy, could be the surprise performer in the bowling department ,because of his accuracy and ability to use the seam at his pace , in English conditions .

Posted by WindiesWillow on (May 4, 2012, 3:25 GMT)

Firstly, I was one of the many persons who spent a long time disagreeing with the appointments of Gibson and Sammy to their respective postions. More than a year later my view has changed. The WI are a far better bowling unit and they have been bowling sides out in test matches which is the main recipe to win a Test. Howver the main failure is in our batting, now, I don't hear anyone calling for Desmond Haynes' head since he's responsible for it. We have to be honest, Sammy and Gibson has been performing and seeing good results. Also, we have to remember Sammy was one of the most liked cricketers in the region until his appointment to captaincy. He has one of the toughest jobs in the entire Caribbean yet he does it with a smile and still a lot of passion. Keep in mind many captains before him including BC Lara were losing test matches in 3 days on a regular basis. This team is fighting down to the 5th day against top oppositions.

Posted by Sinhaya on (May 4, 2012, 2:47 GMT)

Come on Windies! Go all out to rock and stun the Englishmen! If Pakistan did it in UAE and also with Pakistan being the last visiting side to win a test match in England, nothing can stop you all from winning! GOOD LUCK WINDIES from a Lankan fan!

Posted by   on (May 4, 2012, 1:31 GMT)

I agree with Sammy and Gibson....Gayle is an outstanding batsman, but he must fall in line with the culture of the team if not he will have to go...its as simple as that. Gayle or no one else is bigger than the game!!.

Posted by Meety on (May 4, 2012, 0:33 GMT)

Hopefully the WIndies will improve a bit on their performance v Oz, & run England close. If they do that, all it takes is a little bit of good fortune & they can pull off a win or two.

Posted by Rising_Edge1234 on (May 3, 2012, 23:29 GMT)

West Indies for ever!! Make up proud, boys. Fight to the last minute.

Posted by   on (May 3, 2012, 22:10 GMT)

No one will teach anything to Gayle...!! If at all anyone would be under more pressure, it would be Sammy, as he would be under constant pressure to perform in order to retain both his captaincy and his place in the side, especially since Gayle is also an all-rounder in a side full of excessive all-rounders.

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