Radford shores up West Indies' battered confidence
Toby Radford, the West Indies assistant coach, has denied that the confidence levels of the hosts' young batsmen are taking a battering ahead of a tour of England, in the wake of the top order struggling once again on day two in Dominica. Chief among several areas of concern for West Indies is 19-year-old opener Kraigg Brathwaite, who after starting the series with a fighting half-century in Barbados has since made three consecutive ducks.
Following Brathwaite's dismissal at Windsor Park, Adrian Barath and Kieran Powell formed the foundations of a useful stand, but once Barath went the rest fell away alarmingly, leaving Shivnarine Cahnderpaul to mount the best salvage operation he could against an Australia attack that has slowly gained a measure over their opponents across three Tests. Radford, however, argued that the series had been a difficult one for batsmen of both teams.
"I think it [this series] is difficult for both sides. I was happy with how we dealt with the new ball today. I thought Barath was good, I thought Powell was good," he said. "Having got a really good start against the new ball, suddenly spin did the damage. We've had other games where we've struggled against the new ball, we've talked a lot about it.
"How to play [Ben] Hilfenhaus, the fact he sets you up bowling away and then there's the big inswinger... We've looked at that, thought we played that really well today and then on comes an offspinner, lots of turn and bounce, and he does the damage. These are young guys, talented guys, who I think will have good careers and we've got to be patient with them. They're learning and they'll learn around people like Shiv at the other end. It's not suicide for us. You learn, you come back and are stronger. Hopefully we can go to England and then perform there."
As for Brathwaite, Radford said he and head coach Ottis Gibson would seek to remind the teenager of the character and ability he had shown in his first innings of the series. Brathwaite's ability to hang in there at the crease is a critical element of the batting line-up West Indies are seeking to build, as they sorely need batsmen capable of soaking up time and overs in the manner of the 37-year-old Chanderpaul.
"You chat with him [Brathwaite]. You talk with him. You practice with him whenever you can and you remind him how good a player he is," Radford said. "He played very well in Barbados in that first innings. Today he got out in a similar fashion to how he got out in the second innings in Barbados, just hanging the bat a little bit, but again you back him. He's a good player. He's a young player. Our job as coaches is to keep his confidence high and work on any little issues as they come along. You've got to back your young players."
Of greater concern to Radford is the way in which Australia's tail has repeatedly wagged. While the captain Darren Sammy had pointed to Michael Hussey as the major source of these rear-guards, in Dominica it was Matthew Wade shepherding the lower order, though Mitchell Starc and Ben Hilfenhaus also played a few handsome strokes of their own in building a final tally of 328.
"We've regularly got out top quality players. [Shane] Watson, [Ricky] Ponting, [Michael] Clarke. Hussey's been fantastic all the way through, didn't get any in this game, but they bat very deep," Radford said. "Guys come in at No. 9, 10 or 11 and can hold an end up. Last week it was Pattinson, today others take on that mantle. Starc played really well, he got 35 as a guy coming in lower down.
"I think if we can take anything away [from this match], it's important that we bat in the same way with the same brains, the same technique. We're always looking to develop, we're always looking to analyse and learn - that's always my message when we have bad days, that you come in tomorrow and say 'right, how we going to have a better one'. We must keep learning. I think we're a side who've done well over the last few weeks, we've fought well. This happens to be a bad day and we've got to come back with a better one tomorrow, simple as that."
Radford said the West Indies bowlers had been reminded of the importance of bowling at the tail in the same manner they had stalked Australia's top order, but admitted that fatigue after day one in the field under Roseau's sapping tropical sun may have been a factor in a flat display on the second morning.
"The message was we must bowl at those guys - Starc and Wade - as if they were Hussey and top order batters. We've got to bowl the same way. We can't think they're just going to fall over because we know Australians don't just fall over," he said. "Don't think because they're No. 9, 10 and 11 they're just going to give their wickets away, it just doesn't happen like that. I certainly think fatigue [played a part]. We had a long day in the field yesterday.
"Six hours in that heat, I think, took a bit out of the seamers and it's the physical toll [that affected them]. Someone like Kemar Roach, who has been absolutely magnificent and is a world class bowler, he's starting to get a bit fatigued. He's bowled all summer in this series and I think it was hard for him this morning to just dig that bit deeper again. You're expecting a lot [of a bowler], to do it day in and day out in these temperatures."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here