Concerns remain after win

Tony Becca , Senior Sport Editor

4 March 1998

CRICKET: Georgetown: Brian Lara was all smiles on Monday afternoon following the West Indies crushing victory over England.

He jumped about in utmost glee when Shivnarine Chanderpaul took the catch which buried England, and hours later he was still in seventh heaven when he joined the members of the press at a dinner party hosted by the famous Palm Court restaurant in their honour.

Lara had every right to be happy. After winning the second Test and losing the third, the West Indies were back in the lead and looked a safe bet to stay there and to restore some of the pride which leaked away in Pakistan.

``The bowlers did well, the batsmen for once came good. At the end of the day I think we played better and we are looking to improve,'' said Lara.

On the evidence of a victory by 242 runs with a day to spare, the batsmen did bat better and the bowlers did bowl better. There is no doubt however, that there needs to be improvement for the simple reason that only two of the batsmen batted better, too much still depends on the performance of two bowlers, and as Lara himself confessed, winning the toss was important.

Carl Hooper played some elegant strokes in the first innings, and right-arm leg-spinner Dinanath Ramnarine enjoyed a good first innings. The flashes of the brilliance which had burned their opponents during the great years between the late 1970s and the early 1990s however, came from Lara and Chanderpaul, and from Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.

As captain Lara and the selectors prepare for the fifth Test, smile or no smile, they must be concerned. Their thoughts, despite the poor performance of wicketkeeper David Williams against the spinners at Bourda, must be on what to do with the opening positions, how to get Hooper to produce consistently to go on after starting well, how to get James Adams to be a bit more positive and look for runs and what to do with an attack which depends so much on their ageing warriors.

The concern over the opening positions must be the greatest of all - for the simple reason that hardly anyone is knocking at the door.

One of the two however, should go, and although Sherwin Campbell almost lost his place for the fourth Test to middle-order batsman Roland Holder, it could be Stuart Williams. The question is who should come in?

If they thought about it for the fourth Test, the selectors may well convert Holder as a short term measure. It would be better however, if as they should, they are thinking about tomorrow, to bite the bullet and call in young Leon Garrick - a player with great potential.

The concern over the fast bowlers is not so great. Franklyn Rose has already demonstrated his class in the Test arena, so too Mervyn Dillon, and although they tend to fade too quickly and need to get stronger, Nixon McLean and Reon King are quality prospects. There are also Cameron Cuffy who is now coming back from an injury and Casper Davis who is better than his lack of recognition suggests.

As it should be with the opening batsmen, so should it be with the fast bowlers. The captain and the selectors should be looking ahead, not behind

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 04 Mar1998 - 18:25