SHORT BALL? NO THANK YOU.
Wickets in the middle overs proved to be the difference between the sides. © AFP
West Indies couldn’t have started their World Cup campaign on a better note. A neurotic opposition in Pakistan that kept them on their heels; intimidation with the short ball, which was a nice little throwback to the good ol’ days; and more importantly a victory to begin the tourney with. But that West Indies were a far cry from the team that turned up against England in Southampton.
Bouncer was the buzzword against Australia, and it was again against England – just that this time, West Indies bowled it, sometimes just for the sake of it. They were bowling with the sun out, on a deck slower than Nottingham, where their short balls looked worth much more. But West Indies captain Jason Holder said that he had “no regrets” that his bowlers bowled way too many short balls. “No regrets?” he’s asked again in follow-up. Holder shakes his head. In a way, there was never going to be another option against England.
“It was just one of those days. I felt the sun came out in the second half and the wicket flattened out. We just didn’t get new-ball wickets today and it is one out of four games that we have played and we haven’t got new-ball wickets,” Holder said after West Indies’s eight-wicket loss to England.
“I think the bowlers tried. Chasing, well defending 213 isn’t easy. We needed to pick up wickets. We didn’t get any new-ball wickets for the first time in the competition but we tried. It wasn’t for the lack of trying. It just didn’t happen for us today.”
Even though West Indies collapsed to 212 all out in 44.4 overs, it wasn’t for the lack of application at the top. Sent in to bat in bowler-friendly conditions, West Indies were 41 for 1 at the end of ten overs, which was an outright win after having to bat in seaming condition, but they lost track trying to catch up in the middle overs.
“I thought we lost the game in the middle,” Holder said. “Every time we got something going, we lost a wicket. We lost wickets at crucial stages. I just think looking back in hindsight you have to build a few more partnerships and go deeper. I thought Pooran played extremely well and he is an example of how we need to play on that pitch.”
The most interesting aspect was that even at the halfway mark, when England had to chase a modest 213-run target, you couldn’t rule the West Indies out. You knew they would come out attacking, bowling short, testing England on a ground with big square boundaries.
“We felt we had a really good chance at the halfway stage even though we felt we were still a few runs short,” Holder said. Having said that, the way we have been bowling, we have been backing ourselves to get new-ball wickets. It didn’t happen for us today, well played England.
“We were showing glimpses of what we can produce here in this tournament so far and also in the recent past and in the past generally. First, it is just a matter of bringing it together for long periods, stringing together a complete game and being consistent. I have always spoken about consistency whenever I speak to you guys, so it’s a matter for us to find it.
“We have to dig deep within to make sure we take responsibility as batters, and as bowlers we keep being aggressive.”