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West Indies batting goes from sublime to mediocre

By Colin Croft

22 February 1998

WHAT is wrong with West Indian batting? So far in this series the home side have managed scores of 191, 282, 159 and 210. The heady days of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Viv Richards seem a long way away.

The career Test averages of the first six West Indian batsmen are impressive but recent statistics give little inspiration to supporters or to the team's bowlers - and this despite having the world's best batsman in Brian Lara and the most stylish in Carl Hooper.

Indeed, during the third Test at the Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad, Lara was reported to have begged the fast bowlers for one last Herculean effort after the West Indies had made only 159 in the first innings.

They complied, getting England out for 145. Lara, in return, promised that the batsmen would bat properly for the second innings - and the remainder of the series. Empty words. It is more likely that someone will balloon non-stop around the world.

In the 1990 series, which the West Indies won 2-1, they made a top score of 446 with only two innings falling below 200. Even then the younger and fitter Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, augmented by Ian Bishop, Malcolm Marshall and Ezra Moseley, needed runs to bowl at.

That was probably a better bowling line-up than the team has now in Ambrose and Walsh supported by Kenny Benjamin and Nixon McLean. They cannot be expected to keep salvaging games as they did in the second Test in Trinidad.

It is a remarkable situation when you think that Sherwin Campbell, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jimmy Adams and Lara all average around 40 or more in Test cricket. In this series they have all struggled to dominate the bowling. All have reached at least 30 in an innings but unlike Hooper, who made that exceptional 94 not out in the second Test, none has seemed able to take control of a game.

Stuart Williams falls into the same category. He has been described as ``the best batsman in the world when making his first 20 runs''. The trouble is he seldom gets past 20.

Geoffrey Boycott was probably the hardest and most prized wicket to claim in the 1970s and 80s and he said: ``The hardest work a batsman does is to get the first 20 or 30 runs. If he gets there then his sights should be on a century.''

Sadly the West Indian target seems to be 30 and the batting is so mediocre that 30 is enough to retain your place in the side. Oh, for my Carlisle Best and Gus Logie of long ago.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 22 Feb1998 - 18:19