LONDON – Toby Radford said West Indies have little room for error, when the first Test against England resumes on Saturday.
The West Indies assistant coach said West Indies needed to make early inroads into the English batting on the third day at Lord’s, after Andrew Strauss stroked his 20th Test hundred, an undefeated 121, to lead his side to 259 for three when bad light ended the second day two deliveries into the second new ball.
“We have got to come with all ‘guns’ blazing and try to get a few early wickets to set them back,” said Radford.
“The important thing is that when we go back to bat, the lead is as small as possible. We can’t give them any slack runs and we have to make them fight for every single run.
“We probably didn’t do enough of this [on Friday], but we have to do it on [Saturday] because the bigger their lead, the more pressure we are under when we bat a second time around.”
Radford said the West Indies bowlers did not put enough balls in the right areas to create the pressure on the England batting that the opposition bowling had put on the visitors’ batting.
“We bowled overs where we got three or four balls in the right area and any pressure that we were trying to build was taken away whether we bowled a short, wide ball or a half volley and suddenly a boundary was off it,” he said.
“The batsman starts to feel confident. He’s not under pressure to play loose shots. We didn’t put enough balls clustered together in the right areas around a good length in and around off-stump. . .
He added: “And certainly the ball didn’t swing the same way it did when they bowled at us [on Thursday].
“[The English bowlers] are genuine swing bowlers and are accustomed to bowling in these conditions. Our bowlers bowl on flatter pitches at home and are more hit-the-deck sort of bowlers, so we have got to adjust and try to find the right length and get the ‘shape’ on the ball.”
Radford, whose substantive role in the coaching staff is batting coach, said the young batsmen were slowly but surely making the adjustment to the unusual conditions in England, where the ball swings through the air and moves off the pitch prodigiously.
“I was very pleased with Adrian Barath for example,” he said. “Adrian struggled a bit during the game in Northampton and with Ben Hilfenhaus at the end of the previous series at home against Australia.
“He is showing signs now of staying a little bit more side-on and playing the late, away swing and I thought he played really well to get through the whole of the first morning session.
Radford said: “I know he was disappointed he got out just after lunch after he saw himself going for a big score. . .
“. . .The other player that has really impressed me has been Darren Bravo. He looked in good form and left a lot of balls and played under his nose against good quality swing bowling.
Radford, the former head coach at the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre, said he was really pleased with the work of Test newcomer Shannon Gabriel in his first bowl for West Indies.
“I thought he coped really well with the occasion and bowled really consistently,” said Radford about the 24-year-old fast bowler.
“He conceded just over two runs an over, he was strong, bowled with good pace, and bowled with discipline, keeping it in ‘the channel’.
“He really impressed me and kept coming at the batsman and bowled with consistency and this is what you wanted from a young fast bowler playing in his first Test.”