November 25, 2012

Doing it the old West Indies way

Their batsmen impressed, but it was their fast bowlers, Tino Best and Fidel Edwards, who were instrumental in undoing Bangladesh

Scoreboard pressure is a term you hear in the game these days. When Bangladesh's openers went out to start their second innings knowing they were already 261 runs in deficit, that pressure must have been heavy upon them. And the West Indies fast bowlers did not ease up.

For all the runs the West Indian batsmen scored in the two Test matches, it's the performance of their pace bowlers that has been striking. Tino Best's five-wicket second-innings burst won the Mirpur Test for his team, and in Khulna, he was joined by Fidel Edwards in wiping away Bangladesh's resistance.

While competent against spin, the Bangladesh batsmen find good fast bowling unsettling. Even on the placid pitches they know well, they were unable to deal with what the West Indian quicks served up.

Two bowlers who started this tour on the fringes of the first team had ensured that for the second series in succession, and for the first time overseas in ten years, West Indies achieved a clean sweep. Darren Sammy's team did it the old West Indian way.

Best and Edwards are anything but fresh new finds. Plucked from the nets by Brian Lara and thrown into Test cricket in 2003, Edwards was playing his 55th Test in Khulna, and now with 165 wickets has proved the most durable bowler since the era of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose ended 11 years ago. Best, afflicted more by his mercurial nature and form rather than injury as in the case of Edwards, also started in 2003, but was playing only his 18th Test in Khulna.

Had Kemar Roach been fit for the series and Ravi Rampaul not suffered groin problems, neither Edwards nor Best would have been on the field. But they seized their chances.

Edwards, sometimes inconsistent and expensive with his slinging action, but always a bowler of great heart and aggression, took six wickets in the first innings in Khulna, with his quick, full-pitched style, making up for the absence of the hamstrung Best after lunch on the first day. Despite Abul Hasan's startling debut century, Bangladesh had been contained to what proved to be an inadequate 387 in the conditions.

The relentless scoring of Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo gave Sammy and his fellow bowlers a substantial lead to defend. They could bowl with freedom.

Even though he could not go flat out, Best was amazingly effective. The fact that he took to the field at all was a surprise, but used as the fourth bowler, he was the one who sent Bangladesh into decline. He proved once more that, first and foremost, fast bowling is a state of mind.

Like the great Essequibo River in his native Guyana, there seems no stopping Chanderpaul's flow these days

Sheer pace and a loose technique removed Tamim Iqbal, inswing deceived Naeem Islam, and a pinpoint bouncer had Shahriar Nafees fending to the slips - all in Best's first three overs. His stump-to-stump accuracy brought him three more wickets on the final day and produced a new career-best - 6 for 40.

The new maturity of Best, the way he has harnessed himself since returning to international cricket this year, has been refreshing. His contribution and Edwards' better form have meant that the West Indies bench has not been just making up the numbers, as has often been the case.

Their success counterbalanced the failure of Sunil Narine to have an impact on the series. Good teams get contributions when needed. Veerasammy Permaul played his part with eight useful wickets in the two Tests, the biggest one being Shakib Al Hasan's in the final over on the penultimate afternoon in Khulna.

The batsmen also shared the workload. Samuels, so driven to succeed, so steady in concentration and excellent in his strokeplay, took over from Kieran Powell - who scored two hundreds in Mirpur - with his 260. Then Chanderpaul and Bravo's tons gave their bowlers a platform from which to win the game.

Grinding out runs is Chanderpaul's stock in trade. And he was as resolute and as immovable as ever in getting single and double-centuries in consecutive Tests and averaging over 350 in the series. Like the great Essequibo River in his native Guyana, there seems no stopping his flow these days.

But the patience that Chanderpaul's more naturally flamboyant team-mates showed in building their innings in this series was even more impressive.

So Sammy's side did what was expected, but they did so in convincing style. Making sweeping statements based on a single series or even two is risky, especially on behalf of West Indies. Those rubbers have been against the two teams below them in the rankings. But it is fair to say that West Indies' cricket since the England tour in July has been increasingly confident and cohesive, even when bad habits resurfaced.

Despite the sudden slump in the second innings in Mirpur, they came up with the appropriate response to win by 77 runs. When Bangladesh rallied from 193 for 8 to make 387 in this second Test, the bowling response was emphatic.

Coach Ottis Gibson, a former seamer himself, must be a fairly contented man these days. His boys are picking up the pace.

Garth Wattley is a writer with the Trinidad Express

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    It is sad that people speak out against sammy every time without any stats to back up. he consistently gets wickets, and usually the big ones.. if a test bowling average of 34 along with his batting and fielding prowess is not enough to be selected in the team, I don't know what is sufficient. Rampaul, edwards, best, bravo and other fringe bowlers all have a higher bowling average.. just because he is not express pace, doesn't mean he is ineffective..

  • charlie on November 28, 2012, 1:39 GMT

    Some comments here leaves one to wonder ! Doesn't matter that a player does well [Best ,Edwards ,Sammy and Ramadin ] just drop them and try others !! Why ? Because we do not like them .Try to Be reasonable guys .

  • Abhishek on November 27, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    Apart from Narine's performance, this was a good series for WI. They struck to their guns and came out blazing. Bangladesh at home is a potential banana skin and it's always good to win. As for Bangladesh, they had their moment but again blew it away. Perhaps, the structure of their domestic cricket is not good? I hear they put a lot of emphasis on T20. However, a cricketer learns his trade only in FC and test matches.

  • Alex on November 27, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    Everyone forgot that Ramdin also contributed an unbeaten century in the first test and a patient 31 in the second test. It is nothing to shout about, and we are looking for more consistency from him, but it is worth the recognition.

  • ROLAND on November 26, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    @ avmd,why can't we simply congratulate the team, wish them continued success, and spur them on to improve continually. The attacks on Sammy does nothing for the team. And by the way, he does take wickets and is not an expensive bowler - in fact, dare to say economical - look at his stats.

  • Thamara on November 26, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    I have been delighted by the WI's recent performances both in T20 and tests. I feel like they are getting back into their usual way of playing, which was playing aggressive cricket. Despite being a Sri Lankan, I was not disappointed one bit having seen WI beating Sri Lanka in T20 final. I think WI needed such an inspiration to be confident about their cricket. Although Bangladesh is not the best team in the world, the way they played those two test matches was incredible. I think WI is showing signs of developing into a major cricket nation again. They can definitely become so, if their administrators make intelligent decisions on their cricket. West Indian cricketers are not short of talent any way. what they only need is proper guidance and encouragement from their cricket authorities.

  • Dummy4 on November 26, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    Love the performance by the team, the captincy by Sammy was good but i dont think he deserves his place is the squad based on his captincy alone. We have very good all rounders like Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, Dwayne Smith and other that could be even more effective in Sammys position. but well played boys keep it up

  • Carl on November 25, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    Good observation JH, if younger players such as DB Bravo, Powell and Permaul continue to develop their skills, it will take a lot of pressure off the more experienced guys like Gayle, Chanderpaul, Samuels and Roach.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    For once West Indies got it right. The right team balance. They played as a team and that's why Bangladesh was so badly beaten. It is good to have two specialist spinners and two genuine fast bowlers. When one is down the others stepped up. They should keep playing Narine and Best.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    I am loving the work ethic and body language of this team with the batting which has been putting alot more thought into it,but the fast bowling has been fantastic,especially the efforts of Best and Edwards,when Roach gets back,wonder what is going to happen to the balance of the team,who drops out?,does Rampaul 'own" a starting spot?,when one spinner is needed,at test level does Narine demand that stating spot,are we fully convinced about him at test level so far especially on non conducive pitches,does he have the neccessary X factor for 5 day cricket as he does for T20 or ODI cricket?At test level,how much of a run will Narine get,how long will Shillingford be discarded after only 1 day game while Narine had 2 ordinary games,against top 5 opposition,can we really play only 5 specialist batsmen?,to the doubters,dont dare tell me it is only against New Zealand or Bangladesh,because a win is a win,point blank. '

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