The perennial inability of West Indies teams at all levels to enforce strong positions has cost the A team two likely victories in the first three matches of their England tour. But Tony Howard, the team manager, said on Monday that he was generally pleased with the way things have gone.
He acknowledged that he was disappointed with the way the team was beaten by Worcestershire by nine runs in a 50-over match on Sunday, but said he was encouraged by the overall attitude of the team and by several individual performances.However, he was more concerned that the players learn and improve during the tour that comprises four first-class and four one-day matches against the counties and a two-day match against the touring Pakistanis.
"Apart from the matches themselves, everyone has been at daily net practice," he said. "They are all keen to make the best use of the opportunity."
Howard was also keen that the team should uphold the image of West Indies cricket on the first A tour to England in 2002 when, according to Wisden, "their behaviour made more impact than their cricket".
"It's a point we've spoken about and emphasised," Howard said. "The players seem to appreciate their role. After the Durham match, the umpires came to me to compliment the team for its demeanour on the field." Howard identified Runako Morton's 105 against Durham as "an innings of the highest class, in any company" and Lendl Simmons' even 100 against Leicestershire as confirming his potential and his progress.
He reported that Daren Powell had bowled with pace, swing and consistency that had previously eluded him and noted that Dwayne Smith had an excellent allround game, especially with the ball.
The manner of Sunday's loss to Worcestershire was a let-down, Howard admitted. "Yes, we held the advantage both in the field and then batting but we let it slip," he said. "We discussed it at length after the match to determine where we went wrong and how to ensure we don't let it happen again."
Worcestershire were reduced to 70 for 7 by the pace and swing of Powell and the medium pace of Darren Sammy and Dwayne Smith but recovered to reach 213 all out in 49 overs. The West Indies appeared headed for victory at 183 for 4 but the last six wickets collapsed for 21 runs.