West Indies v India, 1st Test, Kingston, 1st day June 21, 2011

Ottis Gibson rues another batting failure


A comment from Suresh Raina explained West Indies' batting effort on the second day. "There were 15 balls in between where I didn't score," Raina had said at the end of the first day, after he played an innings that rescued India. "I told myself just hang in there. Be patient." He did that and played a fine hand, West Indies didn't and slipped.

For batsmen from the previous decade, 15 scoreless deliveries wouldn't have triggered much self-motivating talk. It wouldn't have invoked words like "hang in there". It's a new world these days. Patience is thin and concentration levels can sag too quickly. West Indies are a perfect example of that problem.

Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, nailed it when he said, "Batting has been our real problem. We play six batsmen and they are preparing hard for the game but it's about going out there and having the mindset to bat for a long period of time." They haven't done it for a while now. "We managed to get 20 wickets to win a Test match against Pakistan but we haven't been able to put [up] big scores."

For West Indies, another factor has been the lack of match practice for cricketers. Batsmen like Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendon Nash hadn't played many practice games before this Test. Nash had three practice sessions and went straight into this Test. Gibson said it's the system at fault. "It's very challenging. We are not like England who have long county season. They play cricket five months. We are not that fortunate. You make a good point about Shiv and the amount of cricket. We have the High Performance Centre and stuff like that. People are playing club cricket. We are just trying to give people a lot more opportunities to keep their game in shape."

Adrian Barath hit a fighting fifty on his comeback but no one else coped with the pitch and the attack. "The surface was disappointing," Gibson said. "It seems to be that the surface continues to favour the opposition more than us."

Yet, when India were 85 for 6, West Indies had a great chance to pull down the blinds on the visitors. Perhaps they missed the firepower of Kemar Roach. "In the recent past Kemar has been keeping out Fidel who was our best bowler in the last 4-5 years. Selectors decided that we want to be aggressive against Indian players; they believe Fidel showed more aggression than Kemar and they went for it. And he justified that selection by bowling well and hostile."

Edwards has done that. Today offered more proof. The final over of the day made for a fascinating viewing experience. Edwards bounced, Virat Kohli hopped. Edwards bounced again. Kohli hopped again. One ball flew off the shoulder of the bat, another screamed over his head, and yet another reared over the shoulder. Rahul Dravid repeatedly walked down the track to have a chat with Kohli. Edwards stared. There was aggression in the air.

That aggression was missing on the afternoon of the first day when Raina and Harbhajan Singh got away. The concern for many, though, is not the presence of Edwards, but that of captain Darren Sammy, in the Test line-up. Gibson didn't hide his irritation when that question came up again. "It's becoming a little annoying that people talk about Sammy all the time. He keeps taking wickets; he is not getting runs. I would like him to make runs but he certainly does a great job for the team with the ball. Hopefully, people will start focussing about something else apart from Sammy not bowling at 100 mph."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Maxwell on June 22, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    I have been a lover of West Indies cricket and cricket since my childhood, but more and more the forces that be are pushing me into a state of grave dislike.

    1. The WICB seems to be unware as to the way forward for West Indies cricket, its developmental policies merely scratch the surface and the current policy for the West Indies team is lack purpose and clear objectives.

    2. The Christopher Gayle issue: I must declare that I'm a big fan of Mr. Gayle who I've enjoyed watching over the many years and would have seen him grow into the Gayle known and loved the world over. With his sucesses however, he has grown beyond the game and the West Indies team into a conceited, self seeking individual who is never satified until his desires are met in full and sadly the board is not helping. I still love forward to watching him play, just not for the West Indies.

  • Mohamed on June 22, 2011, 14:48 GMT

    Yes, Sammy has taken a few wickets, but does he merit selection based on his bowling only? I don't think so. If they want a bowler who is a real threat, then bring in Roach. If the need is an all-rounder, then wouldn't Gayle be a a lot better?

  • Nick on June 22, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    To me, and apparently over 97% of others with keen interest for WI, Sammy is not only tactically inept, but also not of test cricket class. I'm trying not to blame him, but he really is a square peg in a round hole. The bigger clowns are the ones who actually nominated him and place him in such a position which is a head scratcher

  • Carson on June 22, 2011, 14:36 GMT

    Kemar Roach must feel used by the WICB. Not too long ago they over worked him as the lone strike bowler. It was so bad that Sammy was opening the bowling with Roach. Yet, with a decent start to test cricket averaging 29.90 runs per wicket, the 22 year old speedster is left out of the team. And the reason given by the coach, who averaged over 91 runs per wicket in test matches for the WI, is that he was dropped for a more aggressive bowler in Fidel Edwards. So what is Sammy doing in the team as a bowler if u are going to drop Roach for lack of aggression. Gayle was right.... Gibson seems to be a user. And Roach seems to have used and now put on the bench.

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    There are six (6) batsmen in the side and they can't make 300 runs and all you guys can do is BASH Sammy….How about the fact that Sammy has led this team to 6 wins this year without support from his batsmen… I don't hear you guys talk about how bad the batting is….About Chanderpaul and Sarwan, where is their patience, concentration and application these are supposed to be (except for Gayle) the best in the WI. The other thing is who wants to be WI Captain these days anyhow "NOBODY". You guys pound the crap out of Sammy but give the likes of Gayle and Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo a free ride... Leave Sammy Alone!!!!!!!

  • giovaughn on June 22, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    Sammy's wickets are far to few & far between. yes he gets lucky every now & again when a batsman feels like throwing his wicket e.g. laxman yesterday or vs poor batsmen of Pakistan & Bangladesh but the fact remains that he is not producing runs in tests & yet has gifted plenty of runs to the opposition's batsmen by dropping simple catches. Tactically he has shown himself very weak as again he has failed to finish of the opposition after having them up against the wall. he saw how Harbajhan took on the bowlers yesterday & he is better @ slogging than batting. y did he send Sarwan to bat @ end of the 1st day instead of going himself to score sum quick runs? that could have put the Indians further on the back foot. He may be an Asset to Hillaire Gibson & co but he is more of a liability to West Indies cricket Gayle may not be WICB favorite player but at least he took his catches & his batting average improved since he became captain. who can dispute that?

  • Carson on June 22, 2011, 14:25 GMT

    What bothers me in West Indies cricket is the hypocrisy involved. Gibson said Roach was dropped for Fidel because they needed more aggression yet he defends Sammy's place in the team as a bowler. Gibson did not say Roach was dropped because they consider Fidel to be a better wicket taking option. It was all about aggression. So are u then telling me that Sammy is more aggressive than Roach? Is Gibson also trying to say that Sammy is a better wicket taking option than Roach? I also heard Sammy say before one of the matches that the Board will come up with the best 11. Further illustrates my point as Sammy being there as a puppet captain. He doesn't seem to even have a say in how the 11 is selected. What a shame!!!!

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    Gibson should go - he was not an "excellent player" as the poster with no cricketing knowledge seems to think - if he was he would have played more tests for West Indies, and he is an average bowling coach. It is noticeable that since Saker took over as his replacement for England, the England bowling attack has improved at a quicker rate. Just take a look at Gibson's results compared with John Dyson's and they will tell you all you need to know. Sammy will be next to go I hope - the specialist captain who's bowling figures have been window dressed by performances against Bangladesh.

  • giovaughn on June 22, 2011, 13:55 GMT

    @ Chandau Benn Has five fors against South Africa & Australia so he definitely is test class & if not he is more test class than Darren Sammy

  • Karan on June 22, 2011, 13:55 GMT

    @Chris Bennett: 'Congratulations Barath, you were our best batsman in this innings, now get lost!' Yes, that sounds like a brilliant way to build a West Indies team and encourage newer players.

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