“Their ability to pivot on the back foot earlier helped them to weather the storm well. England tried their level best to bring West Indian batters forward, but it was a day where they won’t commit a silly mistake frequently like before”
You may become nostalgic after watching the current West Indian pace attack in full flow, but sadly, their batsmen may not trigger the same. Arunabha Sengupta said it right in his article “The West Indian fast bowlers make one nostalgic, but the batting has miles to go”. Indeed, the likes of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell or Roston Chase are not extraordinary talents like a Sir Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge or Brian Charles Lara. They are the batters with limited abilities and it is always sensible enough to bat according to that considering the demand of situation.
A Viv or a Greenidge were known for their attacking intent with the bat. They were not to hang around and bore everyone, but murder the best of bowling attacks mercilessly to entertain the fans. Such players are born once in a generation. Their attacking intent left a legacy, which the next generation failed to emulate except few. But those who possessed that swagger with the bat either faded or gave earning cash the more priority.
After the 90s, West Indian batting has been a butt of joke for many. Occasionally they would shine, but in most of the times, their intention to revive the past by playing attacking strokes only crushed them in 5-day matches. It paid rich dividends in circus shows like T20 Leagues, sadly, in longer-formats; it failed to create an impact.
What West Indies batting lacked in 5-day matches is resolve. They were disinterested about spending time at the crease and trusting the defence. After executing some flashy strokes, they would throw away their wickets by attempting something adventurous. Last year in Bangladesh, one could witness, how whimsically West Indies batted, whereas, a bit more patience could have helped them to avoid disgrace.
Thankfully, this West Indies team is eager to learn from mistakes.
On Day 2 of second Test against England at Antigua, you may develop sore eyes and your mood might be irritated while watching Braithwaite, John Campbell or Darren Bravo’s grinding nature. But one needs to bear in mind, batting positively does not always mean playing shots and each and every batsman in this globe is not a Virat Kohli or Kane Williamson. At times, playing with a defensive mindset may be required according to demand of situation.
John Campbell can be a strokeful batter, but there always remains an element of risk with his aggressive intent. Like in the morning session, against Stuart Broad’s relentless accuracy, Campbell tried to attack, which led to 42% of false shots, according to CricViz. He decided to cut short the risk factor and finally when he was dismissed, his percentage of playing false shots reduced to 36%.
The English bowlers bowled fuller than Day 1 – 39% in comparison to 29%, but could not extract enough movement. They decided to pile up the pressure by bowling an accurate line-and-length. But West Indies batting line up did not lose patience and committed lesser mistakes by not executing enough false shots.
Their ability to pivot on the back foot earlier helped them to weather the storm well. England tried their level best to bring West Indian batters forward, but it was a day where they won’t commit a silly mistake frequently like before.
Bravo could be spectacular to watch when on song, but on Day 2 he would curb his attacking instincts. His strokes contained 7% of attacking strokes and concentrated on spending time at the crease. He was more of a sheet-anchor who would help to arrest a collapse, when West Indies lost a few wickets quickly in a crucial passage of play.
Of course, going forward against Broad was never a good idea, but Chase and Dowrich thought otherwise, while Shimron Hetmyer’s “galloped to the pitch, didn’t quite get there, aimed a wild hack out to cover” attempt against Moeen Ali did not benefit either.
What matters more is West Indies have taken a very important lead with still four wickets in hand. Moreover, one must not forget, the track at Antigua is not ideal to bat freely. The unpredictable bounce always made batting tough, and for which, resolve was needed to counter the demons. The West Indian batters did just that.