West Indies v Sri Lanka, World T20, Group F, Barbados May 7, 2010

Costly spills hurt West Indies

It will take something special to match the mix-up between Wavell Hinds and Andre Fletcher

There has been a yawning gap between the highlight-reel fielding at this tournament and those moments destined for the blooper video. The good has sometimes been spectacular but the bad has often been embarrassing. Saeed Ajmal laid a high marker to top the list after his three drops against England, but it will take something special to match the mix-up between Wavell Hinds and Andre Fletcher, which left both players starring at each other as the ball landed between them.

Mahela Jayawardene, well set on 66, went for a sweep off Sulieman Benn and got a top edge which looped high towards short third man. Fletcher looked at the chance but barely moved from his position behind the stumps, while Hinds took a couple of steps in from the fielding circle before stopping. It was a keeper's catch - if the man with the gloves can get near a chance he should go for it - but there appeared a complete breakdown in communication.

It summed up a West Indies performance that quickly disintegrated after a promising start with the new ball by Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach as six chances were missed. The hosts qualified with two group wins but momentum is fragile in Twenty20. Take your eye off the ball for a moment (and that happened in every sense) and a team can be on the back foot.

"It's a disappointing start but we had our chances and we let it slip away," Chris Gayle said. "They must be given credit for the way they batted after those chances. We were bowling at a guy in fine form and to give a guy like [Kumar] Sangakkara a chance, those guys can hurt you, which they did."

After seeing the bounce generated by Australia's quicks, Roach and Taylor also made life uncomfortable, but that was about as close as the comparison got to Michael Clarke's team. Taylor suffered most from fielding lapses as Sanath Jayasuriya was spilled at backward point in the second over by Kieron Pollard. Although that only cost a single, a much bigger error soon followed.

Taylor found the edge of Sangakkara's bat and Gayle, normally very safe at slip, couldn't take a low chance diving to his left. By the time Sangakkara eventually fell for 68 the partnership was worth 166. In between there had been other let-offs, too, and one brought the spotlight on West Indies' selection policy.

Fletcher has been given the keeping gloves in place of Denesh Ramdin after the specialist keeper was dropped following the opening game against Ireland. Four balls before the horrendous non-catch, Fletcher fluffed a stumping opportunity off Jayawardene. He isn't a complete novice behind the stumps, having kept extensively for Grenada and done the job during the Stanford tournament, but here he didn't look international quality.

Having your specialist wicketkeeper sat in the dug out seems an expensive luxury. Ramdin's form hadn't been good leading into the tournament, but once selected in the 15 it seems wasteful not to play him. If the selectors were so concerned they should have taken a drastic call before the event and dropped him in favour of another specialist. A part-time keeper is always a risk.

It has been done so West Indies can play an extra batsman, but the runs that keeping errors cost (and Jaywardene's missed stumped was worth 33) means it defeats the object of strengthening the line-up. Fletcher's case wasn't improved by his own painful innings of 16 from 18 balls, but by then the match was already lost.

"Ramdin has been struggling with the bat for the last couple of series and we want to play the extra batter," Gayle said. "So to try and balance the team we have given Fletcher the gloves and he's done well for us before."

It's a conundrum many sides have had, but quality keepers regularly show their worth in Twenty20. Most teams in this tournament are fortunate that their gloveman is also a frontline batsman - Sangakkara, MS Dhoni, Craig Kieswetter and Brad Haddin being top of the list - and it seems West Indies are trying to muddle their way there.

West Indies' fielding of recent times has always had the capacity to fall apart in dramatic style and unless they sharpen up their chances of progressing are slim, although they can take heart that Pakistan won last year despite, not because of, their fielding. However, West Indian heads collectively went down quickly as Jayawardene and Sangakkara produced a masterful partnership and now they must rise to beat India on Sunday.

"We'll discuss what happened today and it's back to the drawing board," Gayle said. "It is must-win for both teams and it should be a good game. We are still confident we can win the two games and move onto the semi-final."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muthuvel on May 9, 2010, 0:05 GMT

    hope WI dont take this frustration out on India.

  • Dinidu on May 8, 2010, 14:31 GMT

    West indies pay for XXL mistakes , but we cant take out all the credit from the Sri lankan player they are superb and dont forget we are lion tooo. MY SRI LANKA TEAM THEY GONNA WIN THIS T20 TOURMENT No doubt in that , they wil kick out Aussie in next game . Sri Lanka jaya Wewwaaaaaaa

  • Aboofiras on May 8, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    many teams, except West Indies have got good wicket keeper.Ramdin has been given more chances.He didnot perform well with the bat.His batting average in Test- 23.26, ODI- 19.65 and T20- 17.83.So West Indies have to find another young wicket keeper for future series.

  • Tajal on May 8, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    Ramdin is by far the best keeper we have in this region, BUT its so darn frustrating that his batting has digressed consistently as his career goes on. This man had a test fifty on debut against Sri Lanka, and a well crafted 70 against the Aussies. Since those innings he has never looked like more than a little schoolboy at the crease. His batting is pathetic, he does not look like he has any clue on what to do when he's batting. He has not performed so he got dropped, I have no problem with that. It's just that we have more extremely frustrating situations with this boy Fletcher and every other keeper in West Indies. Fletcher looked like a gem when he came unto the scene, smacking England around in the Stanford 2020, and then pounding the Aussies some time ago. Now he look just as lost as Ramdin, as teams have exploited his weakness against spin and slow pitches. Doesn't help that he can't keep as good as Ramdin. So I say, go with Ramdin and hope he learns to bat someda

  • John on May 8, 2010, 10:45 GMT

    What a hell of a mental mistake to make......w-keeper should always go for the catch when ever possible plus the stumping chance.... something that i have seen other good wk making that same mistake. Nevertheless , Ramdin needs to learn to bat to maintain his play at that level (trying to cut every ball is not batting) and gail should try to stay at the wicket as long as possible ...that`s exactly what he did in the IPL games in India. To be honest , when i saw Pollard dropped the first catch i had a strong feeling that it was all over for W I

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2010, 5:00 GMT

    On a magnificent pitch, Sri Lanka's accurate bowling and excellent fielding was a huge difference. At this point I don't think W.I. are interested in winning this tournament. Yet, who could make accurate predictions with this game? W.I. might yet reach the semi-finals.....I hope.

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2010, 3:24 GMT

    Well, it was written just after the the Sri Lankans innins, it would have taken something more than speacal for the West Indies to make such a total. As a West Indian I was disappointed but wasn't suprise at all. I'm use to this, that's my mentality. Unfortuneately that seems to be the mentality of the West Indies team. We both need to have some quality counceling.

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    We saw a lot of teams in the IPL forgo a propper keeper for a better batsman. I thought it was bad then & it is still bad now. A missed chance off the opposition's best batsman is probably going to decide more matches than the difference in batting between a specialist keeper & a part timer.

  • Hitesh on May 8, 2010, 2:35 GMT

    I think Ramdin should be in the lineup. Fletcher hasn't contributed much with the bat and his keeping is in fact costing the team. Sure Ramdin isn't the best batsmen, and West Indies shabby fielding will probably continue, but with a specialist keeper behind the stumps at least that part of the fielding is a guaranteed effort. And who knows, Ramdin might just find his batting form too.

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2010, 0:48 GMT


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