India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 1st day November 14, 2013

Sammy's shot reflects West Indies' poor commitment

N Hunter
It is unclear what West Indies have really learned from Kolkata. Their batsmen remain distracted. Their bowlers continue to spray the ball all round. And their captain has failed to lead by example
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Empty words. That is what Darren Sammy has delivered so far not only to the fans in the West Indies, but also the general cricketing crowd. For three innings in a row this series, the West Indies batsmen have displayed an utter lack of application and a level of patience thinner than that of a toddler. To say that West Indies would be somewhere else rather than playing the farewell series for Sachin Tendulkar would not be inaccurate.

Of course, every member of the West Indies squad has said that it is a privilege to play in Tendulkar's final series. Yet if they really understood Tendulkar, they would pay their respects with a hard fight and not the limp and lame manner in which they have fought in the four days of Test cricket played so far. In the nets, Tendulkar hates a distracted bowler. For him commitment to the game has always come first.

Seventy eight, 54.1, 55.2 are the number of overs West Indies have lasted in their three innings in Kolkata and today in Mumbai. The Kolkata Test ended in three days. Already there is talk about this one, too, not lasting the distance.

No one was a bigger culprit today than Sammy. He had just played one ball, against R Ashwin. The previous delivery Narsingh Deonarine had been caught brilliantly at short gully. West Indies had already lost all their specialist batsmen except Denesh Ramdin. They had not played even 50 overs while they were yet to reach the 170-run mark. The ball was turning big. Yet Sammy slog swept Ashwin's next delivery, another turner, with a face that declared a pre-determined intent to clear the ground, except the leading edge did not even cross the 30-yard circle. A member of the West Indies management clearly showed his frustration at the selection of the captain's shot.

What really was Sammy thinking? Did he even consider playing the situation? What happened to his statement after the Kolkata defeat about learning from the pair of Rohit Sharma and Ashwin, whose record double-century partnership, had punctured West Indies' spirits decisively.

Sammy's position in the team had already been questioned going into the match. Michael Holding, former West Indies fast bowler, speaking on ESPNcricinfo's Match Point was categorical in saying Sammy did not deserve to hold a place in the team as an allrounder. According to Holding, Sammy could not adapt to the demands of a Test batsman while as a bowler he was mediocre. Just being a cheerleader, Holding pointed out, was not helping West Indies win matches.

To defend himself Sammy might send this retort to Holding: he averages 25.4 when he comes in to bat with West Indies five down or more for less than 200 runs. This is more than his career average of 21.60. His solitary Test century and three of his four half-centuries have come in these innings. But ridiculous shot selections like today and in Kolkata just diminish the importance of those numbers.

Regardless, the question about his worth in the Test team will not die down. Sammy is an impressive leader in the shorter formats where his players like to express themselves in the manner they like - be aggressive. Sammy himself contributes in all three departments with influential performances, but in the Tests he does not have the same kind of respect, the same level of influence that he can extract the best out of his players.

West Indies' last six wickets have averaged 11.38 in this series - the lowest they have averaged for their last six wickets in any series in Tests. Sadly, all the main batsmen for West Indies, men who have the ability to have an impact on the match, have failed miserably.

Chris Gayle is playing his 99th Test. Sadly, he has sleepwalked so far on this tour. Darren Bravo once again got the start but threw it away with hanging his bat to a turning away delivery against Ashwin.

Marlon Samuels was made to look like he was walking over a bed of hot coal by Mohammed Shami today. In Kolkata it was the reverse swing that Samuels found hard to negotiate. On a hard Wankhede pitch, Samuels was at large trying hard to figure out which way Shami was moving the ball. In the end, Samuels charged two successive balls but it only turned out to be a hit-and-miss exercise.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul's 150th Test was ruined as he failed to counter the away swing and seam movement that Bhuvneshwar Kumar got off the pitch and in the air. Chanderpaul in the end was squared up and edged to slips.

Ramdin can watch himself in the mirror and get embarrassed at the moment he decided to unfurl the piece of paper on which was scribbled in capital letters: " "YEH, VIV, TALK NAH."" after scoring a century in the Edgbaston Test against England in 2011. Ramdin apologised immediately to Richards, who had been critical of the Trinidadian for being inconsistent. Ramdin has just one century after that match, against Bangladesh.

Even the tailend pair of Tino Best and Shane Shillingford today played irresponsibly to get out when they had seen Ashwin, India's No. 8, score a match-turning century.

It is unclear what West Indies have really learned from Kolkata. Their batsmen remain distracted. Their bowlers continue to spray the ball all round. Their captain is under pressure. To make matters worse, West Indies do not have a batting coach after Toby Radford joined Glamorgan recently.

Sammy and West Indies might point out that they have not played Test cricket after March. But it's the same case with India. So clearly it is a question of adapting in the mind and being ready than trying to look for reasons. After their victory in the World T20 and Test victories against New Zealand (home), Bangladesh (away) and Zimbabwe (home), there has been talk about West Indies, now No. 6 on the ICC Test rankings, being on the road to recovery. But have West Indies really turned the corner?

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SAMMOS on November 16, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    WI selectors are doing the same things over and over and are expecting different results.Team selection leaves a lot to be desired and the coach,manager and selectors appear to be clueless.Drastic changes need to be made at every level and non performing personnel need to be axed,sending the signal that only excellence would be accepted.Viv tried to instill this culture in his short stint as coach but he was quickly replaced.Sammy and Ramdin need to go.Permaul and Deonarine are not quality spinners.Changes are needed to save our cricket from total demise.It is perilously close to that state as we speak!

  • dummy4fb on November 15, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    The demeanor of Sammy clearly show that he is not Captain material. On field he does not exert influence on other players, lacking in clear approach and short of tactical thinking. Holding is absolutely right. When you are 5 or so down, you do not expect captain to play such a shot. Responsibility is not there in him, and his bowling is not test match material. Time WI looked for a better captain. Hope Sammy will redeem in the second innings

  • himanshu.team on November 15, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    A lot has been said about WI approach to this test match. However, they were never really known for their patience, barring Chanders. Fact of the matter is that there are four top team in tests today: SA, England, India and Australia. After these SL play well in their own backyard. Rest are all pretty much below average test playing teams. So when WI came here, they could not adapt to good swing or spin bowling. their bowlers did give them a session in Kolkata, but the batsmen clearly are not good enough. The shot selection is only a matter of limited defensive abilities against quality bowling. I am afraid if it was any other team, except SA, Australia or England, the outcome would have been the same. But then again, how much can the four of us play against one another? Somewhere down the line rest of the teams have to rise up to the challenge. I am afraid that is not happening at the moment and if there is no brilliance shown by WI bowlers, we may again have a 3-day test.

  • dummy4fb on November 15, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Blaim the WI selectors too....they strip Sammy of the ODI captaincy instead of the Test captaincy.

    Sarwan made a ODI 100 vs Zim but was dropped from the next series.

  • dummy4fb on November 15, 2013, 2:08 GMT

    Indian fans can comment whatever they like. Please remember, This is just a series arranged just to boost the Indians record and give a fitting farewell to Sachin. If Indians can influence to ask WI to come for a tour, how tough it is for them to ask them to drop Roach and Rampaul, proabably the best pair after Steyn/Morkel, Anderson/Broad? Please refrain from using words such as "pathetic". To give you a statistic about great Indian bowlers, Ashwin and Ojha have 208 wickets together and 200 of them have come in India. and they forget bowling when they fly over Indian skies.

  • CapeKolpak on November 15, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    Same story for the Windies lack of discipline, Sammy needs to go and the batters need to show some grit. Powell and Bravo have showed class but lack the experience to go on to get big scores WI XI: Gayle, Powell, K.Edwards, Bravo, Chanderpaul, Samuels, Ramdin, Narine, Best, Shillingford, Roach

  • maddy20 on November 14, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    @Ranjit_sourav An utterly disgraceful comment. How can you say this about the great man? For 24 years he did not achieve what he did due to favors granted by other nations. He did it through hardwork, longevity and perseverance. WI came here with 5 batsmen, and played as if they are playing a T20! NO wonder they are always ranked in the bottom half, atleast for the past 2 decades or so. Their bowling is not great either. Barring shillingford, no other bowler looked threatening. Things would have been better for them had they picked Narine. Ramdin, is a joke as well. I mean how did he even make it to the side with such a bad temperament? Gayle, Sammy, Powell are all guilty of throwing away their wickets to rash strokes.

  • dummy4fb on November 14, 2013, 23:46 GMT

    after i saw sammy's dismissal i sat and looked and looked i wonder what in the world was he thinking. WEST INDIES SELECTORS too many talent are being ignored, kraigg brathwaite, asad fudadin nikita miller miguel cummins delorn johnson :( u have chadwick walton omg so many talent in the windies side johnathan carter leon johnson they are all in form ashely nurse too he is in form as well whats wrong with u guys

  • Alexk400 on November 14, 2013, 23:27 GMT

    I know sammy is not at fault with that shot. I would have done the same..i probably hit it on the ground not to to hit out of the park. Aggressive but risk free one thing , careless throw away shot is bad. But he disgusted with his team mates not saving his captaincy. :)

  • warneford on November 14, 2013, 23:16 GMT

    I just cant fathom any one justifying Sammys place on the team. Sammy is an abject failure. This team needs restructuring. Gayle should not be playing test cricket. Ramdin should be gone. Best is a total waste. Why is Holder sitting the west indies, can Beaton learn any thing watching Best bowl? If we are looking for an all rounder then where is Andre Russel? Why cant Narine bowl in tests again? Please repeat. Where is Kirk Edwards? In the absence of a captain why cant Kirk or Powel who are being groomed not take over? Simmonds is a glove man who makes runs, so is Charles and Walton.What about them? Did I suggest Braithwaite at the top with Powell? I forgot.It makes no more sense for me to call for the departure of the coach and the captain.No one is listening.