Windies bid to double up


Friday, February 13, 1998 [Image]

``They've shown the West Indian public they came here to win. They have awakened a lot of West Indians, including the players. We've got a serious task on our hands.''

He had not yet had the time to fully savour his team's outstanding Second Test win at the Queen's Park Oval. But West Indies captain Brian Lara was the voice of reason despite the headiness of the moment.

And it is the same soberness of mind his team will need this morning when they come out to do battle with Mike Atherton's Englishmen in the Third Cable and Wireless Test match at the Queen's Park Oval.

Today's match may only be the Third Test of the rubber. But it could seal England's fate. Another victory on a ground on which the West Indies have not lost since 1977 would all but clinch a first series win for the new WI skipper, even with three more Tests to be played.

Lara knows this, noting that while ``anything can happen, we are going to try to stay focussed and go two up.''

But he also knows that one Test win does not a series make. Especially when the opponents are some determined Englishmen, eager to prove a point.

Atherton made his disappointment over the Second Test loss plain at the end of the Second Test on Monday, saying his team ``threw the match away.''

In particular, the England captain was disappointed with the effort of his bowlers, Angus Fraser excluded, in the West Indies second innings.

But he is confident of improvement. ``All the quicker bowlers have put in match-winning performances for England over the last year,'' the England captain said.

``So what they need to do is concentrate on the previous good performances that they've had. That's what we are concentrating on. We know we can compete with the West Indies.''

Atherton will have also reminded his team of the historic Bridgetown Test victory in 1994 which came immediately after the humiliation in Port of Spain when England were dismissed for 46 in their second innings.

And the captain will take courage from Fraser's disciplined, devastating Second Test display which highlighted the fault-lines still underlying the West Indies batting.

But today's surface may not be as challenging as last week's.

Generous watering after recently scorching temperatures and then more water in the air over the last two days may leave the pitch with a bit of moisture in it this morning.

Whenever they take the crease, however, Lara's team will be aiming to build on a sound foundation. Their dramatic Second Test win brought the best out of the WI. They fought their way out of trouble to post the second-highest victory total in 70 years of WI Test cricket.

For a fledgling new captain, presiding over such a delicate phase of Caribbean cricket, the manner of the win was significant.

And it should give Lara's team the impetus to move steadily forward in this match.

Having watched Stuart Williams come up trumps, Lara would love to see a couple of others regain the consistency of old.

But most of all, after seeing Carl Hooper step up so superbly, he will be pleased with the memories of that vice-captain's knock.

And that will steel his resolve to speed up the return of vintage Lara, the most perfect signal of all in this time of renewed West Indian hope.

Source: The Express (Trinidad)

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 13 Feb1998 - 22:31