CRICKET DIARY: DAY 4 – WEST INDIES VS AUSTRALIA AT SABINA PARK

Jah know star…..I am getting ready to go to cricket with a heavy heart. The emotional roller coaster that the West Indies players take spectators on is not a thrilling ride. I picked up a media colleague who was visiting from another island. We discussed the possibility of how long the match would last. It was on everybody’s mind.

There was no traffic on our way to Sabina Park. The Sunday worshipers were at church. Some would have already determined that it was not worth hurrying up after the service to head to the cricket ground. Better to spend the day at leisure.

At the ground on the way upstairs (on foot….getting well needed exercise after yesterday’s lunch and dessert of bread pudding), my colleague stopped to see who was in the practice nets. Coach Phil Simmons and Darren Bravo. He was left not out on Day 3 on 8. He was due for a big score after some inconsistent performances which many attribute to distractions of the mental variety. Could the story line at the end of Day read “Bravo scores double ton to defy the Aussies”?

Inside the media centre, I had a short discussion with another media colleague about what accounts for such poor performances. We all have many thoughts. Ultimately, the money is not being spent on the things that matter – the pitches and grounds from the school and club level, the mental aspects, the coaching competence. You could offer many more solutions and wonder why those at the top do not have the will to make the changes that will bear fruit at the international level.

At the start of the day’s play, Coach Simmons said that the first hour would determine the rest of the day. Here is how that went.

12.3

Starc to Dowrich, OUT, inswinger from Starc, Dowrich is gone. Pitched up and curves back in rather late, Dowrich does not connect with the attempted across-the-line flick. The ball rips through and cannons into off. Replays show that the ball kissed the back pad and then hit the furniture. Poor shot selection from Dowrich, though

SO Dowrich b Starc 4 (45m 31b 0x4 0x6) SR: 12.90

And then…

15.5

Hazlewood to Bravo, OUT, Hazlewood reaps reward for disciplined bowling. Good length and straightens around off, Bravo pushes at it with rather firm hands and edges it to gully, where Marsh holds onto a nice, low catch. West Indies stumble to 27 for 4

DM Bravo c Marsh b Hazlewood 11 (67m 49b 0x4 1×6) SR: 22.44

The second hour was not much different.

17.4

Hazlewood to Blackwood, OUT, Fifty in the first innings, duck in the second. Hazlewood gets Blackwood. Pitched further up on off, teasing line. Blackwood is lured into a meek push, he doesn’t move his feet either. All he can do is to chop it back onto the leg stump off a bottom edge. West Indies are sliding quickly

J Blackwood b Hazlewood 0 (9m 5b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

26.5

Johnson to Hope, OUT, Johnson leaps for joy. He is mobbed by his team-mates. After a few short balls, Johnson hits the fuller length. This one tails in from outside off. Hope inches forward to block but StarcJohnson shoots through the gate and nails off. Hopes did not account for the sharp inward movement and plays the penalty.

SD Hope b Johnson 16 (36b 2×4 0x6) SR: 44.44

and…

29.3

Watson to Holder, OUT, Soft, soft dismissal. Starc pouches it at short midwicket, definition of a dolly. Fullish and on middle and leg, Holder seeks to flick it away. This one sticks in the pitch and Holder plays a touch early, ends up chipping it limply to Starc.

JO Holder c Starc b Watson 1 (9b 0x4 0x6) SR: 11.11

West Indies eventually went to Lunch on 72 for 7. Imagine, we were now asking if they can reach 100! Their target is 392. That has long been forgotten. There is no Brian Lara on the team.

While packing up the essentials for the trek from the North Stand to my lunch spot in George Headley, I was of two minds. Do I turn off my laptop and pack up everything because the 3 wickets would go soon after lunch, or should I be positive and think that I would have time to palava with my family and others, including past Jamaica and West Indies players, after lunch? I chose the latter…..then had to scramble back to Level 4 in the North Stand as the wickets continued to tumble to the final close. Press conference is usually approximately 15 minutes after the close of play. Can’t be late.

40.2  D Ramdin c Clarke b Johnson 29 (104m 74b 3×4 0x6) SR: 39.18

41.5   KAJ Roach c Smith b Lyon 3 (5m 9b 0x4 0x6) SR: 33.33

41.6   JE Taylor b Lyon 0 (1m 1b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

Let’s take the lift instead of the stairs. I hadn’t eaten too much today 🙂

The lift stopped on Level 3 and when the door opened, I saw a lady talking with a man. The doors stayed open long enough for me to gather that she had arrived not too long before and was in disbelief that the match had ended.

Final score – West Indies 114/10. Well in actuality, the team was 87 all out, since Extras scored 27. Captain Ramdin ‘top scored’ with 29. After the presentation ceremony,  he spoke to the media (thanks to WICB media team for making these available soon after the close of play).

Yay….we are back on the field for a presser! High point of my day! :+1:

Ramdin said their plan was to see out the first hour and bat deep into the afternoon session and come back on Day 5. He singled out Jerome Taylor. Fantastic performance in the first innings of 6 for 47. He said they kept coming at them and they took their chances. In response to my question about his thoughts at the moment he got out, he said “I knew I got a start. Getting starts in International cricket is very hard and against one of these top teams. I got a start. I would have liked to have gone on and bat deeper.” He said he would call it a “decent ball” which got him out and felt he could have negotiated better, if he looks back on it.

With three key players not available for this match, the West Indies was behind the 8th ball even before they started. The young’uns, fed to the wolves, were gobbled up. I hope that players new to International cricket like Chandrika, Hope and Dowrich do not settle for mediocrity. If they have the technical competence to eventually succeed at this level, then they must understand that they and only they alone have control to do whatever is necessary to develop the mental strength required to reach the pinnacle. If they create a personal vision for their cricketing life, it should guide all the choices they make. Choose wisely fellas. Make the opportunity count.