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Windies batting worries Davis

Saturday, July 20 2013

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THE CURRENT state of batting with the West Indies team, especially in the One-Day Internationals (ODI) format, is worrying former WI and Trinidad and Tobago cricketer Bryan Davis who, in his recent column in the Catholic News, has called for a total improvement before the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Davis wrote, “the WI selectors should be carefully observing players from now. This includes observing their attitude, skills and willingness to be winners – which is judged by how hard they play and practise and how focused they are on the goal of being the world champions.”

He continued, “they currently enjoy that status in the T20 format but they need to realise that a different approach is required for the 50-overs game.”

The Queen’s Park Cricket Club administrator admitted that he is disappointed by the struggles of the team in three departments — batting, bowling and fielding.

“It is too inconsistent, wishy-washy,” he wrote. “When one is in a position to win a match convincingly, then one should never give up that advantage carelessly. However, this is what has been happening!”

Referring to the midway stage of the recent Celkon Mobile Series, which took place in Jamaica and here in Trinidad, Davis noted that the Tri-Nation Series began mere days after the ICC Champions Trophy in England.

“India emerged winners of that tournament, beating England in the final (although the 50 overs were reduced to 20 because of bad weather), and flew out to the West Indies to the heat and bouncy wickets without much time for acclimatisation,” he wrote. “The Sri Lankans were also in England where they worked their way to the semi-finals. So, our players would have started with an advantage, having left the UK sooner than the other two teams, thereby having had an opportunity to rest and train in familiar conditions before aggressively tackling their opponents.”

Davis stressed, “but there are kinks in our armour! We seem to be shaky and not the stabilising force one would expect of a side that recently thrashed the world to become T20 champs! And this is where the problem lies as far as I am concerned. We seem to be still in the T20 mindset.

“It’s all well and good to generalise and issue statements saying that West Indians are attacking batsmen, thereby trying to excuse wild hitting which cost us too many wickets – when we ought to have crushed the opposition.”

Referring to the Windies’ June 30 win over India, he wrote, “we had India at our mercy in Jamaica, batting at 142 for 3, going at 230, only to collapse leaving ten vital runs to be scored for victory by our last pair who, thankfully, showed the right temperament in the situation.

“However, the margin of victory is important as a motivator, an inspiration, and a definite psychological advantage over one’s adversary. At the completion of the match, however, it was India that held the psychological advantage, showing the Caribbean players the ‘never-say-die’ attitude of which champions are made.”

The former radio and newspaper cricket analyst pointed out, “although we appear nervy in our chase we put ourselves in that position by fielding first on winning tosses. The reason put forward by the captains, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, is that the batsmen are better at chasing a total.”

Davis stated, “in my view, teams that prefer to bat last in ODIs are those which lack confidence in their batsmen. No cricket team should prefer to bat second unless there are really abnormal conditions. Runs on the board are a most valuable asset and on winning a toss, one should never give the other team the benefit of investing first. When chasing, the fall of two wickets in quick succession can suddenly make the score look distant and the new batsman has to adjust not only to score runs but also to the added burden of taking no risks! It’s tough!

“When batting first, the batsman’s mind is at ease since he believes that he has ample time to achieve the team’s planned target, and the fielding team is ignorant of the batting team’s goal.”

The easy-going Davis said, “I’m just concerned that there is no agreed position on something as basic as whether to bat on winning the toss, regardless of who’s the captain, hence my belief that the decision comes from the coach. And I repeat, this is a sure sign of a total lack of confidence, not only in the batsmen, but also in one’s bowlers.”

He ended, “I trust the selectors will examine the players’ consistency, the captains’ tactics and the coach’s preparation, observing closely those in the wings so that come World Cup 2015 the Windies will be ready.”

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