Former Barbados and West Indies opening batsman Philo Wallace says the recent Test series between the regional team and Sri Lanka and then Bangladesh show there is light at the end of the tunnel even though it may be flickering.
The West Indies drew the three-match series with Sri Lanka, and whipped Bangladesh in the two-match Test series which began a week after. As a result of their comprehensive victory against Bangladesh, the West Indies moved up a step on the ladder from ninth to eighth place on the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings after being ousted from that position by Bangladesh earlier this year.
“I think there is light at the end of the tunnel but it may be flickering. Our problem is how to get that light illuminating over all areas of our cricket. We played a three-Test series against Sri Lanka and two Tests against Bangladesh, the team turned in some solid performances on pitches that helped our fast bowlers. We were, however, let down by our batsmen throughout both series and this is a cause for concern,” Wallace told Barbados TODAY
The former Barbados captain said while he did not think the team was improving as fast as it could, a sign of consistency has begun to creep into some aspects of West Indies’ cricket, and if this continued at all levels it should help propel their game forward.
“The bowlers have been consistent in their line and length, even though they are having a problem with no-balls, the selectors are being consistent in their policy because they have kept most of the members of the team together for a long period. The team has got to perform consistently as a unit if they are going to take the West Indies back to being a force in international cricket again. A major problem at the moment is that the batsmen are not clicking together. A batsman might score a hundred, or two batsmen score half-centuries in a match, and the others do not make a significant contribution. As a result, the team is bundled out for a low total.
“For example, when we look at the series against Sri Lanka, in the first Test at the Queen’s Park Oval where the team amassed over 400 runs in the first innings, there were contributions down the line, Dowrich (Shane) stood out with 125 and received support from Jason Holder batting at number seven and Devendra Bishoo and Kemar Roach. We were dismissed for a low score in the second innings of the third Test against Sri Lanka and again in the second innings of the second Test against Bangladesh. Cricket is a team sport, the West Indies will only reap success if all of the members of the team are making regular contributions. Our cricketers must understand this as we chart the way forward,” the former hard-hitting opening batsman said.
Wallace said he was pleased with the recent form of fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and expressed his delight at the manner he created problems for the Sri Lankan and Bangladesh batsmen with his pace, line and length which he described as an upward trend for the West Indies’ cricket.
“What I like most about Gabriel is that he is also getting the ball to swing which makes him a very dangerous bowler because he is bowling at 90 miles per hour and also swinging the ball,” Wallace said.
He was also pleased with the support Gabriel received from fellow pacers Roach, Holder and to a lesser extent, Miguel Cummins, who Wallace said bowled without luck in both series.
Wallace lauded the groundsmen for the pitches they prepared in the Test series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, describing them as “sporting and providing assistance to the fast bowlers”. He, however, raised the question about the West Indies’ batsmen ability to cope on these pitches.
“It is one thing to call for fast pitches. But can our batsmen cope on these pitches when the opposition bowlers are generating pace and bounce? One of the roles Jason will have to play as the leader of the team is to instil in the minds of the batsmen that they have the skills required to cope with the bouncing ball from fast bowlers. Some people feel this is the role of the coach and the assistant coach only but I do not share that view. The captain as the leader of the team has a key part to play in making his players believe they can cope with any situation on the field of battle,” Wallace said.
According to Wallace, even though Holder was not as aggressive a captain as he would like him to be, the young skipper was continuing to learn the art of captaincy.
“Jason at this stage of his captaincy is not as aggressive as some West Indian captains of the past but he is still learning the game. He needs to be a bit more aggressive as a captain, but in my view, he is leading the team well. I think within a couple of months we will start to see him evolving as a leader. Once he continues to do what he is doing at the moment, the results will start to come in his favour. He will undergo a stern examination of his captaincy when the team goes to India and Bangladesh later this year. Not only him, the team’s mettle as a unit away from home is going to come under inspection during their tour of the subcontinent,” Wallace said.