Tie a “sickening blow” but West Indies on the improve

— says Gibson

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson has labeled Tuesday’s dramatic tie with Australia in the third One-Day International as “a sickening blow” but says the team’s valiant fightback from a near hopeless position was testimony to their growing character.

West Indies skipper Darren Sammy celebrates but in the end the celebration proved premature. (WindiesCricket.com/Brooks La Touche photo)

Chasing 221 for victory, West Indies rebounded from 78 for five in the 21st over and then 117 for six in the 29th, to miraculously level the scores with three balls left in the game at Arnos Vale.

However, the last-wicket pair of captain Darren Sammy and Kemar Roach were then involved in a horrible mix-up over a quick single off the next ball, with Sammy eventually being run out.

“Sometimes they’re no words. Having said that, we’re very disappointed not to have won but at the same time we didn’t lose so the series is still very much still alive going into St Lucia with two games to play but everyone in the dressing room I can tell you are hurting quite badly,” Gibson told reporters.

“From 78 for five – I think we were – to get it down to the last over and for the captain to play so well in that last over and then for that run out to happen at that time, is a sickening blow for us but we’ll pick ourselves up knowing that we didn’t lose the game.

“We know we’ve given the Aussies a good fight over the last three games and I’m sure they will have a little bit of respect for what they’ve seen on the field as well.”

Starting the last over needing seven runs, Sammy and Roach scrambled singles off the first two deliveries before Sammy blasted the third ball to the wide long-on boundary, to bring the Windies to within one run of victory.

Sammy squirted the fourth ball to point and Roach set off for a near impossible run, only for the fielder to throw to the non-striker’s end, leaving Sammy quarter of the way down the pitch.

Ironically, Gibson said the squad had rehearsed similar scenarios during the recent two-week training camp in Barbados, in preparation for the series.

“We practiced a lot of … scenarios and interestingly the last one was [batting] in the last five, six overs when we only needed about six an over … and it came down to that,” Gibson explained.

“And the one thing we said we didn’t want to happen in the last over was a run out and the run out is exactly what happened.”

He added: “But again, people panic under pressure sometimes and you need cool heads. Unfortunately, Kemar and Sammy weren’t able to keep cool heads at that moment … the big focus for us in the fact that from 75 for five, many West Indies teams in the recent past and even when I first got here, would have folded for 120, 130.

“So for us to bat that well … and get the game down to the last over is a credit to our lower order.”

Gibson said the team’s self belief was continuing to grow and he was seeing several players beginning to take responsibility for their performances.

Pointing to last Friday’s 64-run loss in the opening ODI, Gibson said the fact the team had rebounded from that poor performance to play so well in the games following, was a sign of their character.

“We were very disappointed on Friday because coming out of the camp we had in Barbados – the sort of conversations that we had and the way we prepared for the series – we didn’t see Friday coming, we didn’t expect that performance, we didn’t expect our batters to freeze in the spotlight the way that they did,” Gibson contended.

“And to bounce back with a victory on Sunday and then with this effort again (on Tuesday) shows that the team is gaining strength all the time and there are a few characters who are starting to come to the fore.

“(Kieron) Pollard is playing very well for us. He was a little irresponsible [on Tuesday] but he was playing very well for us and the guys are starting to believe a lot more in themselves and what they can do collectively as a team.”

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