Play­ing within your lim­i­ta­tions

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

THE WEST Indies went down by 133 runs to Pak­istan in the sec­ond Test in Abu Dhabi last Tues­day, and with one match to go in the three-match series, find them­selves in the em­bar­rass­ing po­si­tion of pos­si­bly los­ing the three-way con­test, the 20-overs, the 50-overs, and the Test series by a whop­ping 9-0 mar­gin.

And to rub salt into the wound, all the de­feats, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of the pre­vi­ous one in Dubai, which now ap­pears some­thing of a pass­ing mirage, was by huge, un­con­tested mar­gins.

The rea­son of­fered for the de­feats have been the usual ‘beat­ing horse’ of poor and care­less bat­ting by the bats­men, and with hardly any ex­cep­tion.

The bowl­ing, how­ever, has proven to be just as poor as the bat­ting, if not some­times worse. Ev­ery now and again a bowler, just like the bats­men, turns up with a per­for­mance to tickle the imag­i­na­tion or to pro­vide some sem­blance of hope.

That hope, how­ever, just like the one pre­sented by Deven­dra Bishoo and Dar­ren Bravo in Dubai re­cently, al­ways dies as soon as it ap­pears.

On that oc­ca­sion, af­ter Pak­istan had rat­tled up 579 for three de­clared, Bishoo’s eight wick­ets for 49 runs and Bravo’s in­nings of 116 took the West Indies to within 12 overs of sav­ing the game and to within 56 runs of win­ning it.

This time a first in­nings score of 452 matched by a sec­ond in­nings score of 227 for three de­clared was enough to win eas­ily, de­spite a knock of 95 by Jer­maine Black­wood and a West Indies sec­ond in­nings of 327 off 108 overs.

Once again, I am at a loss to find out what went wrong, to find the cause of the now ac­cus­tomed bat­ting and bowl­ing, and field­ing, fail­ures of the West Indies team.

This time, how­ever, Pak­istani cap­tain, Leg-spin­ner Deven­dra Bishoo.

the ex­pe­ri­enced and knowl­edge­able Mis­bah-ul-Haq, may have given the West Indies the an­swer, an an­swer which I have known, and have ex­pressed, for a long, long time, ever since the Windies plunge in world cricket at the end of the last cen­tury.

Oth­ers, in­clud­ing the late great West Indies bats­man Clyde Wal­cott, shared the same sen­ti­ments that the prob­lem with West Indies cricket, since the turn of the cen­tury, was that the ma­jor­ity of West Indies crick­eters be­lieved they were bet­ter than they were ac­tu­ally.

The In­dian com­men­ta­tors hinted of the same sit­u­a­tion when, in the last series, they spoke about West In­dian bats­men play­ing down the wrong line, play­ing for­ward when they should be play­ing back, and driv­ing when they should be block­ing.

The real prob­lem is that some­times, most times, the West Indies play as if they are re­ally bet­ter than they are, and most times they pay the penalty.

Speak­ing af­ter Tues­day’s match, Mis­bah-ul-Haq said that bowl­ing on the slow bat­ting friendly pitches in United Arab Em­rates “is dif­fi­cult” WI bats­man Dar­ren Bravo.

and “get­ting 20 wick­ets is al­ways a chal­lenge”.

Mis­bah-ul-Haq went on to say, “I be­lieve you go there and assess con­di­tions and play within your re­sources. You work out how you are go­ing to con­duct your game plan. If you stay within your lim­its and ex­e­cute your plan ac­cord­ing to your strength, then no mat­ter what the con­di­tions are, you could be suc­cess­ful.”

He also said that Pak­istan’s spin­ners are their strength, they were “ex­pect­ing a turn­ing and spin­ning wicket but this pitch had noth­ing for the bowlers. To­day it was the fifth day and it still was flat and didn’t do much.”

Pak­istan have been crit­i­cised for slow bat­ting in the UAE but their plan is to win. In their last 11 Tests played there, they have won all 11.

No­body re­ally re­mem­bers slow bat­ting, once it is not too slow, when your first three scores in one-day matches are cen­turies, when you score an un­de­feated triple cen­tury in Test cricket, when your team comes up with scores like 579 for three de­clared, 452, and 227 for two de­clared, and when you win matches com­fort­ably.

It is nice, es­pe­cially when the op­pos­ing team fails to chal­lenge these scores and lose eas­ily af­ter play­ing on the same “slow and bat­ting friendly” pitches, the pitches on which both the bats­men and the bowlers of the los­ing team al­ways com­plain.

To­day, the West Indies take on Pak­istan in Shar­jah in the last match of the series, and the hope is that they will end the con­test in style and avoid the em­bar­rass­ment of a 9-0 white­wash.

CEL­E­BRAT­ING THE CARIBBEAN

With what is hap­pen­ing in the UAE and to West Indies cricket in gen­eral, it is good to hear of some good plans for sport in Ja­maica, es­pe­cially for the cel­e­bra­tion of sports in the Caribbean.

Ja­maica, right now and for years gone by, has been a lit­tle gi­ant in the world sports arena.

From the deeds of cham­pi­ons past to cham­pi­ons present, Ja­maica is a home of cham­pi­ons.

In­deed, aided and abet­ted by Ja­maica’s great­ness in so many sports, by the great­ness of Ja­maicans domi­ciled around the globe, by the great­ness of Ja­maicans in sports for­eign to Ja­maicans, and by the pres­ence of so many world cham­pi­ons, in­clud­ing the fastest man and wo­man in the world, Ja­maica can be eas­ily de­scribed as the place for sports in the world.

Ja­maica, how­ever, needs to pa­rade be­fore the world their stars, and, un­selfishly, the stars of the Caribbean as well.

The news, there­fore, that the London-based Ja­maican Al Hamil­ton is at­tempt­ing to stage his pres­ti­gious event, the Caribbean Awards Sports Icons (CASI), in Ja­maica some­time next year is won­der­ful.

The CASI awards was first held in Ja­maica in 2008. It was then held in the Ba­hamas in 2009, and af­ter two dis­ap­point­ing at­tempts to hold it in Bar­ba­dos and in Guyana, it was held last year in An­tigua at the San­dals Grande An­tigua Re­sort.

Last year, the awards went to peo­ple like Sir Ever­ton Weekes – Bar­ba­dos, cricket; Dr Cyn­thia Thomp­son – Ja­maica, ath­let­ics; Mau­rice Hope – An­tigua, box­ing; Kim Collins – St Kitts, ath­let­ics; and to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Ja­maica, ath­let­ics.

Ja­maica has the pres­ti­gious an­nual RJR Sports­man and Sportswoman of the Year awards, but this one is for Caribbean icons. It would be nice if Ja­maica hosted it, and in do­ing so, say thanks to the likes of Sir Garry Sobers, Hasely Craw­ford, Michael Hold­ing, Brian Lara, and his good friend Dwight Yorke for their lovely con­tri­bu­tion to Caribbean sports.

Host­ing CASI would fall in line with Ja­maica’s won­der­ful im­age in sports, and help in the mar­ket­ing of sports.

Pak­istan’s cricket cap­tain Mis­bah-ul-Haq.

Tony Becca

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