By Cosmo Hamilton
So the post-Sammy era has begun but as the aging New York Yankees Baseball catcher Yogi Berra used to say – ‘its like déjà vu all over again’ – with the West Indies capitulating meekly in the First Test match against New Zealand at Sabina Park in Jamaica in less than four days, losing by a whopping 186 runs to go one down in the three Test series. And it really did seem like nothing has changed except for the new man at the helm – wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin who got 39 and 34 respectively in the match, if only to show some measure of responsibility at his new position.
Nursing a bad back in his 100th Test match coincidentally on his home ground opening batsman hit man Chris Gayle managed a workman-like 64 in the first innings, as Shivnarine Chanderpaul in typical fashion with relative ease gathered 84 not out as he ran out of partners, pushing the West Indies first innings total to 262 in reply to the Kiwis’ 508 for 8 declared.
There was precious little else to write home about except for the impressive return of pacer Jerome Taylor to Test cricket after a long layoff. The Jamaican quickie would have been pleased with his returns of 26 overs, 11 maidens, 37 runs and 1 wicket in the first innings and 12 overs, 4 maidens, 28 runs and 3 wickets in the second innings. Notably despite the sizeable and ultimately match winning first innings New Zealand total, the supporting cast of West Indies bowlers turned in a creditable performance with the return of Sulieman Benn from exile, Kemar Roach from injury, and Shane Shillingford from ICC suspension for illegal bowling action.
As it were the Windies attack conceded 664 runs in the match while capturing 16 wickets but it was the team’s anemic batting on a reasonably good pitch that doomed them to defeat. Chasing an unlikely 403 for victory, West Indies in the second innings sank to 134 for 9 before Shillingford 53 not out and Benn 25 put on 82 for the last wicket to push their total to 216. Of that score it would have been noteworthy that the contribution of the four specialist bowlers was 115 runs while the top seven batsmen produced a paltry 101 with 34 runs coming from skipper Ramdin.
The disciplined New Zealand attack spearheaded by pacer Tim Southee and debutant off-spinner Mark Craig in both innings went through the Windies batting line-up like a hot knife through butter. The chief culprits in the woeful batting display were Marlon Samuels who did not trouble the scorers in either innings with double duck while facing four balls. The Jamaican who seems to have completely lost his way batting-wise appeared out of sorts on a pitch where one would have thought that he would have had some familiarity. Not much better were Kieran Powell with 28 with one chance and nought, Kirk Edwards nought and 14, and Darren Bravo – nought and 12.
For their complete lack of application and any semblance of mental toughness in my view the aforementioned flawed foursome ought to be dropped for the remainder of the series and summoned back to the drawing board. Their replacements should be Lendl Simmons, Jermaine Blackwood, Leon Johnson, and Dwayne Bravo or Kieron Pollard, whomever is fit, but preferably the former as a legitimate all-rounder, a much needed component in this West Indies 11 to bolster the four-man bowling attack.
(Sports Editor’s note: This article was written before the West Indies 13 for today’s second test was named)