England in West Indies 2015 April 19, 2015

'Mediocre' jibe motivates West Indies


Devon Smith faced 175 balls in the second innings in Antigua to play his part in earning a draw © Getty Images

Devon Smith has said a desire to "prove England wrong" provided extra motivation for West Indies. He was among the players surprised to hear Colin Graves, the incoming ECB chairman, describe West Indies as a "mediocre" side ahead of the series.

And now, buoyed by their escape in Antigua, after Jason Holder hit an unbeaten hundred, Smith claimed the entire squad was looking to punish England for their arrogance.

"They said in the press they would win three love," Smith said. "We've had the first Test and we're looking forward to the next two to come. It motivates me - it motivates the whole team - to go out there and prove them wrong for whatever they said.

"The guys are pumped up and looking forward to it. To bat a whole day and save a Test is amazing. A lot of fans expected us to lose but we delivered and we earned the draw."

While the perception of arrogance is unfair to England - nobody in the touring party claimed West Indies were "mediocre" and nobody in the touring party suggested a 3-0 victory - it is still a useful motivational tool. It allows West Indies to think of themselves as underdogs, freed of expectation and pressure.

"We have no pressure now," Smith said. "England have the pressure because they are looking for the victory. Sometimes it's good to be underdogs. At least you have nothing to lose and something to prove."

Smith will become the first Grenadian to play a Test on home soil when this match starts on Tuesday. One of only four men from the island have represented West Indies in Test cricket - Junior Murray, Nelson Pascal, Rawl Lewis are the others - he can anticipate vociferous local support at the impressive National Stadium. Bearing in mind that even Lewis (Test batting average 8.90; Test bowling average 114) has a stand named after him, Smith can probably expect the same at some stage.

He expects the pitch to be "great" for batting, though he also anticipates that "there may be more than Antigua." Devendra Bishoo's legspin is sure to come into play following the omission of Sulieman Benn.

Smith enjoyed a pretty good first Test. While the manner of his second innings dismissal - caught at mid-on - was, in his words "unfortunate" he had by then compiled his highest Test score since November 2005. He put the improvement down to a more confident approach and some work against spin bowling.

"I used to put myself under unnecessary pressure," he said. "Now I just want to go out and express myself. I'm approaching the game with a lot more confidence.

"I had an issue for a short while that I was out to the arm-ball. It was a simple mistake and I have worked on it. It was not a major thing.

"But this match - at home - will be a dream for me. My whole family will be here to support me. The people will be here to support not just me but the whole West Indies team. It will be a great occasion."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Blessing on April 21, 2015, 12:40 GMT

    With all due respect to Devon Smith i find it very ironic that a player who averages 25 in both formats in international cricket is upset by being labeled mediocre

  • Paul on April 21, 2015, 12:06 GMT

    The West Indies have a proud tradition of great attacking cricket being played by some of the game's very best. I saw Sobers score his double hundred at the MCG in the Rest of The World series, and as Bradman himself said, no better innings has ever been played. I was just 14 when I saw that knock, but even now - 43 years on - I can still see the way his back foot drives bounced back 10 yards from the pickets, so hard were they hit, and not with outsized tree trunks, as they use now, but with a proper, slim profile, cricket bat. He was a true master, and a gentleman. It is disrespectful, to call any team mediocre. The WI have been through hard times, but they have not lost their spirit. I believe that the words of the ECB chairman will now come back to haunt England. Go Windies! All Australians love and respect your cricket. May you now begin your great Test renaissance, by defeating England, yet again! and may you soon make our bats duck and weave, as well.

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2015, 9:44 GMT

    West indies may be the Underdogs, but must be under pressure as well, if their current players know the history of West Indian cricket, a pedigree that will always haunt the present generation

  • Keith on April 21, 2015, 9:11 GMT

    What bothers me the most is that England have chosen to put in charge someone who does not seem to understand the impact of his words on others. Good on WI for proving him (partly) wrong.

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2015, 5:55 GMT

    What about England team , when they can not take four or five wickets when more than two hours of play left ? Can we call England team as rag tag team and it is .Knocked out world cupin in league stages itself and what beauty it was.

  • anthony on April 21, 2015, 0:04 GMT

    Man so many of these talented yet underachieving unmotivated Windies very young cricketers from 2000-2005 still dominate the Windies team set up in 2015.....it's high time they were discarded the gayles,bravo snrs smiths,bests,edwards,samuels ,ramdin etc .my team would be braithwaite,Blackwood,bravo jnr,chanderpaul jnr, chanderpaul snr,holder,Sammy (converted wk) braithwaite,roach,taylor,narine

  • sap on April 20, 2015, 19:24 GMT

    now a days "mediocre" is actually a praise cause top two individual scores in ODIs is now hold by "mediocre" batsmens..

  • Vivek on April 20, 2015, 16:51 GMT

    Its again the big hearted Holder who holed West Indies out from trouble. Devon Smith should consider himself lucky for playing for WI with an average of 25 in both forms. But don't worry too much, this English side is also mediocre, so keep playing. Who knows you can even win the series.

  • K on April 20, 2015, 16:11 GMT

    Tony Greg's "make the WI grovel", James Faulkner don't "particularly like" the WI players in 2012 T20 WC semi, motivated the WI players to perform. I hope the "mediocre" comment will motivate this bunch of WI players to perform better. I would encourage the English players to get on board to "mouth-off" at the WI players; just to send them some motivational signals. We need competitive WI cricket !!!

  • Rahul on April 20, 2015, 16:10 GMT

    You're playing for your country, so you should need anything to spur you on to play with some fight.

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