THE FIRST One-Day International (ODI) between West Indies and Australia was a disaster for the home team.
However, they made amends in the second game to set the stage for a grand finale in the third and last game of the three-match series. After some adjustments to the dates this final game has been scheduled for July 26.
Australia won the first match convincingly by 134 runs. The Aussie bowling attack mesmerised their opponents.
A shocking collapse of WI batting occurred with the unexpected suddenness of a rude awakening. Evin Lewis, who played so well in the T20s, was dismissed with the first ball of the innings, delivered by Mitchell Starc.
Jason Mohammed was comprehensively bowled by the same destroyer with a beauty that found the gap left by the batsman between his bat and pad.
Before one could digest this quick removal, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Darren Bravo and Jason Holder all slunk back into the pavilion cloaked in woeful misery – 27 runs on the board for the loss of six wickets!
Then the skipper, Kieron Pollard, stepped up and played with the expertise he has developed over the years, to gradually take away some, if not all, of the humiliation, with a polished and well played 56 which was a little less than half of what was the eventual total of 123 in 26.2 overs.
However, there were errors that stood out, faults that a more discerning look would have perceived rather than taking the victory in the T20s as a sign of superiority over the Aussies.
Let’s take Starc, for example, and his bowling mate, Josh Hazlewood. In the 20-over games they bowled a shorter length and more defensively, at a slower pace. Then, when they moved up to the 50-over format, they increased their speed and bowled a fuller length.
Bowling well-pitched-up deliveries created some confusion in the minds of batsmen who grew accustomed to them in the shorter version. WI batsmen were caught unawares as the ball swung a lot more and was bowled at a faster pace. Starc thus collected five for 48 and Hazlewood three for 11. WI batsmen did not know what hit them.
However, they are not entirely to blame. Lewis was completely flummoxed. Hetmyer was hard done by, being asked to open the batting. He is a middle-order batsman. One can tell by his style and approach.
In the second game Holder and Pooran showed a strong mental approach. Although the latter was loose, taking risky chances, he fought along well. His concentration needs improvement. That can only be developed with practice.
Mohammed had not been playing any worthwhile cricket, as all club cricket and inter-island rivalry had ceased because of the pandemic. Nonetheless, he is placed at No 3 in the batting order, a position usually reserved for your best or most in-form batsman.
He had no chance against the aggressiveness of the attacking Starc. The left-handed quickie is an experienced bowler in all formats, one of the best in the world, if not the best.
Switching places with Bravo in the second game didn’t work. Of course, both are short of match practice and do not seem to have done much in the nets.
Bravo was very slow in his footwork and is a shadow of the batsman he once was. He is obviously a player who is out of form as a result of insufficient practice. I couldn’t help but wonder just what sort of practice these players had done to face the rampaging Aussies in ODIs.
It’s a different brand of cricket and diverse formats require separate approaches. The Aussie bowlers are aware of what is necessary; are WI bowlers aware? Their coaches?
Long, hard sessions are needed in the nets and not meetings, one after the other, talking about plans to put innings together.Waste of time!
What's needed is plenty of hard work in the nets with batsmen and bowlers improving their skills by practising for hours upon hours. Repetition – that’s the road to success. WI either want it or not.
In both games the batsmanship on the two sides has been weak. The standard of cricket has been low.
Maybe the third ODI will have produced cricket of higher quality with better batting from both teams for a more enjoyable contest – hopefully. It is surprising to witness the ability of the Australian second-string batsmen. They are quite disappointing – Aussie reserves are slim.