West Indies players, particularly the batsmen, must do whatever it takes to stick around at the crease and give a good account of themselves, says former Barbados and England cricketer Roland Butcher.
A veteran cricket commentator, Butcher said the regional side made lots of errors that they must correct if they are to stand a chance of saving the series. The second and final match bowls off on Friday at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St. Lucia.
“I want to see a little more fight when we bat. Do whatever it takes to hang around and give a good account of themselves. For the batsmen, it is not going to be easy. Test cricket is not designed to be easy.
“You are going to have to overcome many challenges, you are going to have to overcome the pace of the bowlers, the swing, and the movements and you are going to have to be prepared to take a few knocks here and there to stay at the crease,” Butcher told Barbados TODAY.
During the telephone interview, Butcher who is part of the Barbados Cricket Association’s selection committee, said that the Kraigg Brathwaite-led West Indies side needs to show more composure. The West Indies lost by an innings and 63 runs in the opening Test match in just over two days.
“I think the batters now have to show a lot more composure at the crease. I think they need to sum up the conditions a bit quicker and it is not going to be easy by any means because you are up against a world-class attack.
“But they are going to have to find a way to survive the South African attack because I expect conditions to remain the same. West Indies have to do all the work because South Africa are one-nil up and it will be interesting to see who wins the toss and what they do,” he explained.
Butcher added: “If you don’t score runs you don’t put the opposition under pressure so they would just build more pressure and eventually you will crack under the pressure. West Indies have got to balance between defence and attack and more important and I think they have to make the right decisions when to do either.
“I think players who get a start – because it is not going to be easy to get a start on the pitch – but players who get a start have to try and bat deep into the innings and give the team a chance of getting a good first innings score. First innings total is always very important.”
If the conditions remain the same in St. Lucia, Butcher believes that West Indies management should look at another alternative pacer.
“If conditions remain the same, we need to have another fast bowler. I think West Indies would have missed a fit Shannon Gabriel in that first Test because he is the premier fast bowler in terms of pace. He would have made it quite uncomfortable for the South African batsmen.
“Maybe if Gabriel had played that might have influenced West Indies to put South Africa in if Gabriel was fit and firing. But the chances are that he might not be fit enough for this Test. If he is fit, he will be short of match bowling. So, he is a risk and we will be gambling on his fitness. If Gabriel is not fit then I think Alzarri Joseph is ready for the opportunity,” Butcher stated.
He also commended 19-year-old Trinidad and Tobago fast bowler Jayden Seales for his bowling performance on debut and said the young man showed a lot of promise. But he has a long way to go.
“I think Seales showed promise but he also showed inexperience. He is only in his second first-class game so he is not expected to perform like an old head. There was some promise there but I think by the end of the Test match he would have learned that Test cricket is not going to be easy and it is not easy.
“He is going to have much tougher days than he had the first time he bowled. So, while promising, he has to learn the game and have a long way to go before he is a bowler or not. Right now, it is a promise and he has got to learn the game and he is going to get a chance to learn. South Africa is going to be fired up for this next Test match,” he said.
Butcher also addressed team selection and strategy.
“We made lots of errors in the first game. I think we didn’t quite get the team selection right, bearing in mind that the conditions (in St. Lucia) historically are helpful for the fast bowlers. We invited two spinners instead of an additional fast bowler. So, that was something we didn’t quite get right.
“I think the other thing we did not get right, which was more important than the selection, was the fact that we won the toss and elected to bat in overcast and friendly bowling conditions. My thinking behind batting (first) would be to get a good first innings score and then put the opposition under pressure.
“Instead, it left you open to exactly what happened, getting bowled out cheaply on a wicket that is very helpful for fast bowlers. Bearing in mind South Africa has a very good fast bowling attack that is used to playing on these types of pitches. The South Africans in their regional and international cricket use these types of surfaces to play on which are green, hard and bouncy. They also have some skilled performers. So, by deciding to bat I think we threw the initiative to South Africa,” Butcher stressed.