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April 11, 2012
Kensington Oval's dressing rooms are close together, only a clear glass partition separating the viewing areas of the two competing teams. Upon leaving the field in the aftermath of a three-wicket defeat, West Indies captain Darren Sammy had an eyeful of what it means to win a great Test match. On the other side of the glass Australia's players had dissolved into a huddle of embraces, whoops and back-slaps, while the disconsolate hosts looked on.
Sammy's team is developing slowly, but must learn the hard lessons of how to keep fighting over five days of a Test. And how to resort to more than cynical delaying tactics when the result of a match is in dispute. But Sammy said the sight of Australia rejoicing would stay with him, until he has the chance to do it himself.
"We dominated a top side with some good players and the way I heard them celebrating on the balcony means a lot to me," Sammy said. "We'll take that to heart and look to come back strong in Trinidad. I told the guys at the end of the Test match to keep their heads up. We did a lot of good things. I can remember in the pre-match interview both captains said one bad hour could turn the game around and that's exactly what happened in this Test match. We dominated Australia for three and a half days and even today when we bowled, we made them fight for that 190."
Since becoming captain and forming his alliance with the coach Ottis Gibson, Sammy has taken West Indies closer to earning respect as a battling, striving team. However the lessons of past matches, including two keenly fought series against India at home and away in 2011, are as yet not fully learned.
However Sammy also pointed to the gains of the first innings, in which Kraigg Brathwaite and Kirk Edwards showed the way before Shivnarine Chanderpaul maintained his command of Caribbean batting. West Indies' bowling was steadfast, augmented usefully in the second innings by Narsingh Deonarine's off breaks - though the more mysterious finger spin of Sunil Narine was missed.
"We've learned a lot of lessons. Remember Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi [where West Indies played last November]. Basically similar things keep happening," Sammy said. "We keep getting close but we just need to find a way to get over that hurdle. That last hurdle. We've just got to come back strong. I think the bowlers stuck to the plan most of the time. The way the batters batted in the first innings, leaving alone a lot of balls and stuff like that and Shiv again, showing his experience, the two young openers - Kraigg and Barath - at the top. We did some good stuff, we just lost it in the second innings there.
If Sammy's tactics lurched towards the defensive for too much of Australia's chase, he said he had been trying to keep a balance between searching for wickets and trying to tease the visitors out by withholding runs. Australia's captain Michael Clarke refused to criticise his opposite number for tactics that the tourists would have been unlikely to employ, and offered supportive words for the vanquished.
"I think they're probably in a tough position because they haven't got a full-strength team, do they? That must be hard for them," Clarke said. "I want to give West Indies a lot of credit. I thought the way they batted in their first innings was outstanding. I think their bowlers knew the conditions well and they bowled pretty well.
"I want to take nothing away from the guys in our change room. I thought a lot of credit needs to go to them to be able to get a win out of 450 [by the opposition] on the board on the first two days and our backs against the wall, but I'll take nothing away from West Indies. I thought they fought really hard, I think it was a fantastic Test match. "I know everybody at the ground enjoyed it, and hopefully the people back home and all around the world that watch continue to enjoy Test cricket. For me as captain, it's very important we continue to make this great game very enjoyable and we want people to come out and support us and watch, and hopefully we get a great crowd in Trinidad as well."
A memorable match will live long in Clarke's memory. As for Sammy, it will burn deeply into his.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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