Batting let us down - Gayle
It was a familiar refrain from West Indies captain Chris Gayle, as he put the blame squarely on his team's batsmen after losing the first Test to South Africa by 163 runs at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain. "It is the batting to be honest with you," Gayle told the Trinidad and Tobago Express. "We batted poorly in the first innings and that actually cost us the game very quickly."
Despite losing in three and half days, Gayle defended the make-up of the squad. "It is definitely the right selection. We have two guys out [Adrian] Barath and [Ramnaresh] Sarwan, and [Travis] Dowlin did well for us in the last series against Australia, and Brendan Nash was outstanding for us in the Test series as well.
"We are in the rebuilding process and we asked a couple of batsmen to bat at positions they are not accustomed to, but it is something in cricket and, as batsmen, whenever you get a chance, you have to make the best use of it. But we are not going to use it as an excuse ... we have to try and make the necessary adjustments for the next Test match."
There were a couple of bright spots for West Indies in the performances of Sulieman Benn and debutant Shane Shillingford. Benn, who was ordered to leave the field by Gayle in the one-day series for refusing to bowl over the wicket, picked up eight wickets and made his highest Test score - 42 - in the second innings, while Shillingford snapped up four wickets. "It was a good effort from the spinners and we always knew it was a spinning track," Gayle said.
Gayle expected the same squad to travel to St. Kitts and said West Indies could give South Africa more of a contest as long as the batting clicked. "This was the first Test and you want to give everyone a good chance, but I think it will be the same squad. I don't know what condition Barath is in and we don't know what cricket he has played.
"Hopefully we can pick it up in the next Test match and put our best foot forward. If we can get the runs on the board ... any first innings total over 350 is good, and it will actually put us in a position to challenge for the win."
Gayle also credited South Africa for playing good cricket. "There is no doubt about it, South Africa are a more experienced team ... give credit to those guys, they kept running in hard," he said.
Meanwhile Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, was all praise for his bowlers. "Our bowlers were running on fumes there at the end, and it was not made any easier for us with them struggling with the run-ups from one end and a soft landing. It was another hot day, and we have had to work a little bit harder.
"The pitch was not conducive to really exciting Test match cricket. It was about a long, hard graft, and we did that well, and we have won in three and a half days, so I am happy."