West Indies v South Africa, 3rd ODI, Dominica May 30, 2010

West Indies gave up too easily

It is now impossible to see the West Indies recovering the spirit and confidence needed to challenge these South Africans in the remaining two ODIs and three Tests

As West Indies head coach, the latest in the wheel from which eight have spun off in the past 14 years, Ottis Gibson is more intimately involved with the players on a day to day basis than anyone else.

In the post for three months, he would have already come to appreciate the depressingly candid points made during a panel discussion in Barbados last week by West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) chief executive Ernest Hilaire on the state of our cricket and the attitude of those who represent it on the field. No doubt he had heard about them from others even before his appointment that, as Hilaire put it, "the whole notion of being a West Indian and for what they are playing has no meaning at all" to the players and that money and "instant gratification is all that matters".

Perhaps he was challenged to prove Hilaire wrong on his warning to fans to prepare for at least three more years of embarrassment, but he has certainly not been encouraged by the results so far. Prior to Friday's third ODI against South Africa in Dominica, Gibson said that the team had not "thought through well enough".

He used as an example Dwayne Bravo's dismissal in the defeat in the second match in Antigua. The allrounder batted superbly for 70 yet Gibson regarded his loss as the turning point in the game. "Bravo got out to the last ball of an over that had conceded 13 runs and it was the last ball of a bowler's (Dale Steyn) spell," he noted. "Those little things we need to get better at."

There was no improvement in Friday's match. If anything, it was worse.

It was a spirited effort to limit South Africa to 224, securing the last five wickets for 18, the last seven for 71. Against determined, mentally tough opponents strong in bowling, the target was not straight-forward but certainly within range. This is where the relevance of Gibson's pre-match comment became clear. "Talent-wise we're not far behind South Africa, thinking-wise, we're showing that we're very far behind," he had said.

Suddenly, as West Indies responded, wickets were falling to unnecessary shots, not least the two most crucial. Captain Chris Gayle launched one ball for six, slashed wildly at the next and edged to slip. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, seduced by the absence of slips, aimed to steer the energised Jacques Kallis to third man only to deflect to the keeper.

When the revved-up Steyn, generating more than 90 mph every ball, despatched Bravo to a bouncer that stirred memories of the heyday of West Indies fast bowling and Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy followed, 118 for 7 meant certain defeat.

Or so Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn and Ravi Rampaul conceded. Another 106 were required but 20.2 overs remained. The required run-rate was still just five runs an over. Denesh Ramdin was still in. Anything can happen in this game, as Sammy had demonstrated with his stunning 20-ball 50 in Antigua in the second match and as the West Indies had shown in similar situations in the past.

In the first round of the first World Cup in 1975, they were 203 for 9 against Pakistan, with wicketkeeper Deryck Murray batting and Andy Roberts, then a genuine rabbit, as the last man. With another 64 to win, Murray and Roberts never gave up, as the current tailenders did on Friday, calmly seeing them home with two balls to spare.

Even if that was too far back for the modern players to remember, the final of the 2004 Champions Trophy at The Oval in London should still be fresh enough in their minds for them to appreciate that no cause is ever completely lost. At 147 for 8 with the light fast closing in, the West Indies required another 71 to beat England and claim their first trophy since the 1979 World Cup. Another 16.2 overs remained and Courtney Browne (a wicketkeeper again) and Ian Bradshaw with level-headed common sense and without a six, and even an attempt at one, gathered the runs with seven balls to spare without the mindless running of Taylor or the slogging that Benn and Rampaul indulged in at Windsor Park on Friday.

Taylor should be a key component of this team, especially in the absence of Fidel Edwards but, at present, he seems either injured or uninterested or both. His bowling is well short of his best and he has been slack in the field. There was no reason for him to push the ball to mid-on and chase for the run that he didn't make. The selectors must soon make a decision on his place.

Benn might argue that he has already put in his effort. He had dismissed two key batsmen, Hashim Amla and Kallis, in his ten overs and run out another, AB deVilliers, with a direct hit from the deep. But he is in the team as a professional cricketer, expected to contribute in every department. Too often, not least with his batting and fielding, he sells himself and his team short. His wild swings on Friday spoke of his conviction that the match was already lost, not that, even in such a predicament, it would still be won.

It is now impossible to see the West Indies recovering the spirit and confidence needed to challenge these South Africans in the remaining two ODIs and three Tests. Just as Sammy's blitz temporarily lifted them and the rejoicing supporters at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in the second match, so did the defeat, and the manner of it, at Windsor Park three days later deepen the despair and give credence to Hilaire's dire forecast. But, as with Murray and Roberts in 1975 and Browne and Bradshaw in 2004, there must always be a sliver of hope.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for nearly 50 years

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 31, 2010, 16:30 GMT

    We need to stop blaming the selectors and the coach. Our cricketers must carry out a self examination and recognise there purpose for representing the people of the caribbean. Players lack of ability in technique, ability and knowledge of the game are very evident. We are as a people are destroying cricket because of being too individual, being again as in the past presenting only our own eg Trinidad for Trinidad etc. Lets be more objective and give more constructive criticism and not be negative. Some players has past there best when considering playing at this high level for so long. What have happened with the under 19 team and potential shown on the last tour recently. The promising tall fast bowler Holder and wicketkeeper. We can not look towards the future with the present players tried and not going forward. England and India just include new players and being successful. As expressed by the coach our present crop of cricketers does lack commonsense.

  • K on May 31, 2010, 13:04 GMT

    Well said Tony!! The current WI team must value their wicket and BELIEVE they can win till the last ball is bowled (thats an Aussie mentality). Besides improving their batting, bowling and fielding they should also improve their mental side of the game; the WICB should also put systems in place to support the players in improving, not just talk about the players improving.

  • ERROL on May 31, 2010, 3:08 GMT

    These players need to play and defend their wickets as if their lives depends on it. To me it's all about heart and pride. With this insurlarity from some of these supporters I will very much like to see Trinidad lose the 20/20 in the WI and not be invited to India so some will SHUT-UP about Ganga Ganga Ganga

  • John on May 31, 2010, 1:49 GMT

    All those from trinidad including BUTEE who think that Ganga should be the captain of the w.i. team because pollard and bravo would perform better are also suggesting that ganga should be the captain of the Mumbai Indians instead of Sachin Tendulkar....Ganga would have prevented them from failing in India. What a load of crap. Let me repeat, GANGA Cannot keep his place it the W.I team. Have a look at his average.

  • John on May 31, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    Up to this point OTTIS has not shown that he is capable of managing this W.I team. He has allowed Gayle to put down his players publicly and that is causing dissention in the team. Things have gotten out of hand .So far he has not don`t anything to help W.I cricket. Tony Cozier it`s not the players fault....the best way to get rid of house full of WOODANTS is to burn it down. I happen to know a few people who could not read and write but they had common sense. Clyde Butts should be the first one to go and then Hillarie followed by the incompetent coach. Ganga has no place in W.I cricket ...he had too many chances. If Pollard and Bravo are failing they should be dropped as well. The captain should not have to tell the professionals what they have to do! Yes, at this point I am also asking for GAYLES head. He should be replaced by someone who can maintain his or her play.

  • John on May 30, 2010, 19:04 GMT

    Butee are you still on this Ganga for WI captain scene. Ramdin and Pollard need to take resposibility for their own performances and stop blaming others. I have heard Andre Baptiste on his radio program in Trinidad blaming Gayle for the poor performance of Pollard in a particular 50 over game, a game in which Gayle scored 80 odd and took 2 for 25 in his 10 overs. I would think that the performance of the captain leading from the front with both bat and ball should be motivation enough for a so called "professional" cricketer like Pollard.

  • Ambrose on May 30, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    How many times has Jerome Taylor run himself out again in the last year? It just seems to be recurring. He just seems to be mindlessly running down the pitch. Somebody has to speak to him about this because he just seems to take off once the ball touches the bat. I didn't see the last match but he seemed to just be jogging the single when he was run out. As the radio commentators were saying, Ben should be dropped for a game or two to understandt that he is playing international cricket. Afther he was given a word he continued to swing as if he were on the beach. Most of the other test playing teams don't meagrely surrender games as the WI do. Even the match where Sammy scored the half century, there were about 11 balls left. The suicidal run(second) shouldn't have been attempted. As the coach said, guys need to use their head in the middle and the WI lose most of their matches because the players are not using their brains at all. Also the BEST players need selection 4 different forms

  • GORDON on May 30, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    I agree with Mr. Tonys comment, however the Selection Chief of the West Indies Clyde Butts seems to have no clue on selecting players. I've read an article in the T'dad Express dated May 29th "Issues keeping Lendl Simmoms out of selection frame" I would like to ask what was the basis on selecting Wevell Hinds for the 20/20. The WI selectors needs to have a benchmark that can be used to select the best from the Caribbean.

    Secondly i think that Gayle is not the type of captain that is needed to get the best out of players. Why is it that Ramdin, Pollard and others perform so well under Darren Ganga? You need a captain that is vibrant, in control and RESPECTED.

    As for Mr. Gibbson, i know you are doing your best but you need to take a stand.

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