PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Fast bowling legends Michael Holding and Colin Croft believe West Indies still have a long way to go before they can safely say they have “turned the corner”.
West Indies held on grimly for a draw in the fifth and final Test on Tuesday at Queen’s Park Oval to win the five-Test series 1-0, following an innings and 23-run victory in the opening Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica, where they bowled England out for their third-lowest total in Tests of 51.
This was followed by the aborted second Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua, and drawn Tests at the Antigua Recreation Ground and Kensington Oval.
But Holding thinks they have made a great start to achieving that ultimate goal, but there are some things they need to work on.
“West Indies could not have turned the corner when you look at the bowling attack that we have got,” he told CMC Sports Wire.
“We have to take 20 wickets to win Test matches, and West Indies have struggled to bowl England out in this Test series, except for Jamaica. Look at the totals England posted in the last three Tests.
“When we start taking 20 wickets and bowling oppositions out and winning Test matches on a regular basis, we can then say we have ‘turned the corner’.
“This is a good start! Whatever method we used to beat them, once it is fair and above board, and we played proper cricket, it was a good start. We now need to learn from this, look at where things went wrong, and develop from there.”
Holding praised the side the spunk they have shown in this series every time their fortunes seemed to have been flagging.
“They have fought well in this series which is something about which we are all very proud,” he said.
“Their backs were up against the wall on so many occasions in this series, and not too long ago, everybody would have expected them to just fall apart. “But they battled very hard, particularly in the last three Tests, which is something people in the Caribbean have wanted to see from them.
“We are not trying to tell anybody that this is the best side in the World, or the most talented group of cricketers in the World, but we wanted to see them fight and give everything that they can for the region. And they have done it in this series.”
The result also meant West Indies secured a series victory over England for the first time in 11 years and regained the Wisden Trophy which symbolises excellence in Tests between the two sides.
It was also West Indies’ first victory in a Test series over a side above them in the World rankings for six years.
But Croft was not sure if West Indies had even seen the corner yet to begin talking about having gone around it.
“They are still on the straight road getting to the corner,” he quipped. “We should not get too excited. We beat England because there was a crazy two sessions of cricket in the game in Jamaica. It was an anomaly.
“If West Indies can build on this victory – yes. But we are going to lose a few cricketers very soon, someone like Chanderpaul for instance, and we need to find at least two more genuinely quick and quality fast bowlers, and two spinners, so we are going to see some changes.
“But I think if they can be consistent, look good, win a few Test matches and Test series, in between losing a few, I think everybody would be satisfied. I think what everybody wants is for the team to represent themselves and, most importantly, the region properly.”
Croft also praised Chris Gayle for the cool, calm demeanour he has brought to the captaincy, following some internal upheavals in the recent years.
“I think in his own quiet way Chris has brought these guys together as a unit,” he said. “He does not get enough for credit, but some how or the other, they are playing differently with him as captain.”