West Indies v SA, 2nd Test, St Kitts, 4th day June 21, 2010

Draw looms after Windies adopt go-slow tactics


South Africa 543 for 6 dec and 23 for 0 lead West Indies 546 (Chanderpaul 166, Nash 114, Deonarine 65, Bravo 53) by 20 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

It took a bit of struggle and a lot of waiting but West Indies finally succeeded in matching South Africa's total of 543 in what was largely an excruciatingly slow day of Test cricket. The hosts were well-set at the end of the third day to press forward and possibly gain a lead of 100-150 to set up a sporting declaration. But the overnight pair of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo instead settled for negative and defensive tactics, the kind which would give Test-cricket bashers a field day.

The result was a slender three-run first innings lead which gave West Indies a moral victory. But such is the state of West Indies cricket right now that even a draw is considered as good as a win. Clearly, they were not willing to throw anything away and instead focussed on tiring out the South Africans. The play-safe approach, combined with the unhelpful pitch, made this game a poor advertisement for Test cricket. The 90-minute rain delay after tea was more a welcome break than an interruption.

West Indies' tactics in the morning were mysterious. Trailing by 119 runs, the well-set Bravo and Chanderpaul batted like they were injected with tranquilisers. They played out the session without being separated but added just 39 runs - one less than their output after two hours of play yesterday. The attritional cricket spilled over to the afternoon session before Paul Harris, who did his bit in contributing to the dullness with negative tactics, got rid of the pair.

The stodgy resistance by Chanderpaul and Bravo drew parallels with the only other Test at this venue, four years ago. Coincidentally, Chanderpaul was at the forefront then and viewers, commentators and the opposition, India, were all equally baffled at the tactics. West Indies had set themselves up for an unassailable first-innings score, but Chanderpaul and his partner Marlon Samuels batted for almost an entire session like they had resigned themselves to a draw. Not surprisingly, the game had no result.

While Chanderpaul has been known to switch off and play the waiting game, it was unusual seeing Bravo so subdued. Like Samuels did four years ago, Bravo was singing from the same hymn sheet as Chanderpaul, refusing to indulge in any kind of risk.

The bowlers kept it simple, maintained a consistent line outside the off stump, and at times threw the bait with fuller deliveries, inviting the drive. Harris didn't make scoring any easier with his negative line from over the wicket, hoping to get some turn from the rough outside leg stump, but Bravo was happy to pad them away.

In one over, Harris bowled three wides down the leg side, unheard of in Test cricket. There were four men close to the bat - a slip, forward short leg, silly mid-off and short fine leg - but they were made redundant. At one point, Chanderpaul had three fielders deep on the on side, but he too regularly went forward to smother the spin or defend with soft hands. The pace of the game prompted Jeff Dujon to joke on commentary: "Oh boy, two runs off the over. They're hammering it."

Though there were boundary balls on offer, only two boundaries were scored in the morning session, both by Bravo off Dale Steyn. He spanked Lonwabo Tsotsobe past point after lunch to bring up one of his slower half-centuries, off 176 balls. Chanderpaul added only 15 to his overnight score, off 93 balls, when he spooned a catch back to Harris. The muted reception was in contrast to the previous evening when he reached three figures.

Bravo's marathon ended with a thin edge to the wicketkeeper off Harris. A sudden spurt of wickets enlivened the proceedings, and the smattering of spectators who showed up were treated to some entertainment from Ravi Rampaul and Sulieman Benn, who carted the third new ball around with some spanking shots through the off side. They weren't afraid to make room and punch the ball through the covers and carve it over the slips. Morne Morkel, who suffered the most in that brief surge, claimed both with rising deliveries. Mark Boucher in the process added to his illustrious tally by claiming his 500th dismissal.

The South African openers came out in fading light to put on 23 without incident. With the pitch good enough to last another five days, the only thing left to gain on the final day is batting practice. Unless something dramatic happens, a draw seems certain.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 23, 2010, 8:08 GMT

    People who are equating 'attractive cricket' to rapid pace in scoring are taking a one-dimensional perspective of Test cricket. Test cricket has many more dimensions and nuances. Michael Atherton defying Allan Donald or Garry Sobers (~70) in the company of Charlie Griffith (~40) defying Indian spin in a Chennai Test in 1966 are savored stories even today. Test cricket is a rainbow. If we focus only one color we miss the essence of its allure.

  • Rohan on June 22, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    Never mind the detractors..... I think see wher Otis Gibson is going with this.... this test match represents a watershed in WI cricket..... the poor results and bad beatings stop here... wipe the slate clean.. stop the rot.... I agree with this , this draw represents the new direction of wi cricket.. we will no longer be whipping boys for anybody... no matter who... if we cant win u will not win either... I've heard that an english PM once said that he'd rather lose a battle ship than to lose a test match... maybe it's time we put some value on our test matches and by extension our wickets.... well done guys keep fighting.

  • Michael on June 22, 2010, 15:23 GMT

    Time to stop singing for the return of Ganga. Look at the mans average. That is not even enough to make his national team. If we are looking for a captain with consistency then let us look at the Jamaican captain Lambert with an average of 30 in first class cricket, who has led the winning team for the last three years sweeping competition in the Caribbean. Speaking of Gayle he has one of the best all time averages of any West Indian opener including Hunte, Walcott, Haynes etc. He is playing with a second eleven that is given to him by a selection panel that seems to be always out to lunch!! He also has most of his front line players injured!! Give us a break and face reality, Ganga will never again make WI team...he is just a club PLayer.

  • Michael on June 22, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    With SA posting 450 there can only be a draw or a loss for WI. Good decision from the skipper. Remember that after Brave there are no other batsmen on the team as we saw in the collapse afterward . Ridiculing of Gayle wont help he can only play the team he is given. He played with a lot of restrain in the opening slot to provide a solid lead. Not sure who is responsible for picking the final 11 but some changes have to be made for the last match. Dowlin is not ready, also so is Rampaul. Ramdin has got to go unless his godfather is still one of the selectors. Time to bring in Baugh , Bernard ( allrounder), Tonge (can do better than Rampaul), and give young Bravo a shot. Best of luck for the next game as this game will end in a tame draw.

  • Paul on June 22, 2010, 14:13 GMT

    On that pitch with those bowlers there was no way the West Indies were going to be able to bowl out South Africa. What West Indies did on Day 4 was the smart play, to avoid the possibility of another loss, the only realistic outcome besides the draw. I applaud their effort on Day 3 and 4.

    And it is ironic with the usual criticism of the West Indies that they are rash, impatient, and do not use good judgment that they are also criticized when they show the opposite qualities.

    Now prove me wrong fellas and bowl out SA before Tea!

  • Byron on June 22, 2010, 13:29 GMT

    I have a SOLUTION to these boring test matches. Here it is: Each side will be allowed to bat only 80 overs per innings, if a side is bowled out before their alloted 80 overs ( lets say in 60 overs) the remaining 20 overs is given to the fielding side so they will have 100 overs to bat in their second innings. By doing this you will ensure a result ( unless there is rain) and make it more interesting.

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2010, 12:47 GMT

    good to see the performance of west indies as in last test they do not played well .happy to see the performance of chandarpaul as in this age they are also playing good cricket.i think only one best cricketer of W I i.e. chandarpaul

  • Allan on June 22, 2010, 12:24 GMT

    With a couple exceptions (Dowlin & Ramdin), that was a good overall batting performance by the Windies. Through all these dismal years, I have never doubted the talent on the Windies team; what was frustrating was the inconsistency with which that talent expressed itself. There has always been that nagging feeling that they were punching below their weight, which is why a lot of teams above in the rankings are fearful of them in a way that they are not fearful of NZ, ZM and BANG. Windies when fully fit, have the talent to take out the best teams.

  • pratheek on June 22, 2010, 12:01 GMT

    tests like these totally ruin the future of cricket. i'm a fan of test cricket, but then just looking at the defensive play is so "disturbing". when CA is looking towards implementing a split 50 over ODI, matches like these are the final nails in the coffin of "cricket"..t20 isn't cricket at all...just bad baseball with a fancy term. really hopw to see very few games such as these.

  • Gerald on June 22, 2010, 11:21 GMT

    I am very sorry, but that pitch is just not good enough for a Test match. There needs to be something in it for the bowlers. Why even play the Test if a draw is inevitable unless a team collapses. If a team collapses the game can end on day 3 or 4 but on a decent pitch with 40/60 bowl/bat the game should end on day 5 after a decent contest between the teams. When will hosts be fined for unacceptably flat pitches?

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