Watching cricket with Garfield Myers

West Indies better than we saw last week

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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Make no mistake about it, for those of us who still believe West Indies cricket is worth supporting, last week's performance in India was like a hammer blow to the belly.

Losing wasn't the issue. After all, West Indies are ranked eighth in Test cricket up against number one ranked India in their backyard.

However, for those of us watching from thousands of miles away, West Indies for the most part seemed unfocused, mentally scrambled, as they went down to what we are being told is India's biggest Test win ever. 'Scatter brain', is how my late father would have described the West Indies approach.

If we stop to think about it there were good reasons for the players to be in a bad place mentally.

First, there was the recent resignation announcement by coach, Stuart Law. Apparently it took not only those of us on the outside by surprise but also the administrators of Cricket West Indies. I am still struggling to wrap my head around Law's decision just before a tour of India and Bangladesh and just nine months before next year's 50-over World Cup in England.

Sure, the coach gave notice and remains with the team until his contract ends. But you are left to wonder how much moral authority he still has.

Then the classy Kemar Roach, West Indies most experienced seamer and its bowling leader had to withdraw from the first Test because of bereavement.

And as if to confirm that trouble comes in threes, captain Jason Holder withdrew just before the start of play because of an ankle injury. We are told that Holder sustained the injury during the pre-tour training camp in Dubai. How is it then that we only knew at the toss that he wouldn't be able to play?

All that said, there is a second Test which starts Thursday night Jamaica time. By whatever means necessary the West Indies must show recognisable improvement, even in defeat. Perhaps the only good thing about losing a Test match in three days is that there is more time for recovery.

Hopefully, the captain, coach, members of the support staff, and the players will have found the wherewithal to lift morale and confidence.

Just a few months ago they were playing good cricket in drawing a Test series with Sri Lanka and dominating Bangladesh in the Caribbean.

Beyond that, they should look back to last year for inspiration. They shouldremember the England tour when they were written off as 'no hopers' after heavydefeat in the first Test but struck back in the second to record one of the biggest upsetsin cricket history.

Likewise memories of their victory over Pakistan at Bridgetown last year after they had lost the first Test at Sabina Park should help. Perhaps my favourite memory of Holder's team is their stirring back to the wall fight when all seemed lost, to draw against India at Sabina in 2016.

Those performances showed that this team is far, far better than we saw last week. In their mind's eye, the players need to go back to those good places and believe in themselves.

My hope is that Holder will play. Even if he is unable to bowl and can only be there as batsman and slip fielder, he should lead the team.

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