All eyes on Walsh as WI/Zimbabwe clash in 2nd Test
By Tony Cozier in Kingston
March 24, 2000
FOR those despairing over the present state of West Indies, Jamaica is presently the place to be.
The mood prior to the second Test against Zimbabwe, starting at Sabina Park here this morning, is blatantly upbeat.
The anticipation of Courtney Walsh, the nation's most beloved sportsman, becoming Test cricket's highest wicket-taker on his home patch in front of his own people has been heightened by the extraordinary West Indies victory in the first Test in Port-of-Spain on Monday and by the presence in the eleven of five Jamaicans, among them the new captain Jimmy Adams.
Walsh admitted yesterday that being as close as five wickets to surpassing Kapil Dev's eight-year-old standard of 434 sometimes gives me goose pimples.There will be far more visible signs of emotion among the always passionate Jamaicans at Sabina when - no one is even considering if - he reaches the goal in this match.
"If it has to happen here, it would be like a dream come true, something very special, Walsh said yesterday.
"It means a lot just walking around and hearing the support I get, everyone urging me on and wanting me to do it," he added.
Walsh has endeared himself to his fellow Jamaicans and to cricket followers around the world as much by his down-to-earth modesty and his sporting decency as by his skill and his unwavering commitment to every team he has played for - Jamaica, the West Indies and the English county, Gloucestershire.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) had long since dedicated the Test to him and announced that US$1 would go to his benefit fund for every ticket sold. It was not surprising to learn yesterday that every one has been, representing a windfall of around US$30,000 for the match for Walsh.
There is also to be a dinner in his honour, one in a sequence to be held throughout the Caribbean during the coming weeks.
At 37, he declares himself as keen as ever after more than 15 years of international cricket. This will be his 113th Test. Only Kapil Dev, 131, among fast bowlers played more, only Viv Richards, 121, and Desmond Haynes, 116, of West Indians.
He, and the other fast bowlers, are unlikely to be favoured by the pitch as they were at the Queen's Park Oval. Sabina is hard and entirely devoid of grass. On the evidence of the season's Busta Cup, it should be easy for batting and, if anything, offer a little turn.
The Walsh story has, inevitably, taken precedence over the Test itself. Adams and all of the team accepts that but the match is still the main purpose of the exercise.
Now that the euphoria of Port-of-Spain has abated, it is back to reality.
To be dismissed for 187 and 147, without one batsman passing 50, by an attack with only one bowler with over 100 Test wickets to his name emphasised the woeful state of the batting. Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and the bowlers cannot, and should not, be expected to bail them out every time.
It is as much a matter of confidence as of technique, both of which are in short supply at present. Adams made the valid point yesterday that the dramatic turnaround on the last day in Port-of-Spain will have a beneficial effect on all aspects of the West Indies' game.
"That victory was really critical to the whole development of this team," he said. "It has done a lot to morale and self-belief and I expect to see that reflected in this Test."
For that reason, the selectors last night retained the same 11 from the first. But it still appears dangerously unbalanced with a preponderance of left-handers, all with similar styles, the absence of a single dominant batsman and a tail that starts at No.8.
Zimbabwean captain Andy Flower and coach David Houghton have both commented on how difficult it will be to motivate their charges, limited at the best of times. They have had only three victories in their 40 Tests to date and will hardly again have one so firmly in their grasp.
They might be heartened by two instances from the recent Queen's Park Oval past. When England were routed for 46 in 1994 and the West Indies for 51 by Australia last year, they both proceeded to win the next Test.
Such a transformation would be an immediate, and serious, setback for West Indies cricket - whether Walsh reaches his goal over the next five days or not.
Teams: West Indies- Jimmy Adams (captain), Sherwin Campbell, Adrian Griffith, Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Wavel Hinds, Ridley Jacobs, Curtly Ambrose, Franklyn Rose, Reon King and Courtney Walsh. reserves- Ricardo Powell and Nehemiah Perry.
Zimbabwe (from)- Andy Flower (captain), Heath Streak, Grant Flower, Neil Johnson, Trevor Gripper, Murray Goodwin, Alistair Campbell, Stuart Carlisle, Brian Murphy, Henry Olonga, Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Bryan Strang, Mluleki Nkala, Andy Bignaut, Craig Wishart and Tatenda Taibu.
Jamaicans ready to acclaim a hero
by Craig Cozier
Special to Stabroek News
KINGSTON – Courtney Walsh's home town fans are ready to acclaim a Jamaican world-record holder during the second cricket Test between the West Indies and Zimbabwe at Sabina Park starting here today.
The 37-year-old fast bowler's four victims in the West Indies' victory in the opening Test in Trinidad on Monday pushed him up to 430 wickets, five away from passing Kapil Dev's world Test mark of 434.
"It would be like a holiday, cheers all over, music all over from the boomboxes," said Vincent Anderson, a 67-year-old reitred engineer watching the home team's final preparation at the Kensington Cricket Club here yesterday. "Everybody will be partying day and night whenever it happens."
"It will be pandemonium. You will really see Sabina Park on fire," agreed Justic of the Peace, Alphonso Barnes, 46. "Of course, it is his home town and no one else can give him the reception that we will give him here."
One of the younger fans among dozens watching the team practise, 19-year-old Orville Williams, predicted chaotic scenes should the Kingston-born Walsh achieve the feat.
"It will be pandemonium on the field. A lot of people will be storming the field and, knowing that he deserves it, maybe it will take a while before the cricket resumes."
Pitch invasions are not uncommon in the Caribbean and last year, hundreds of Jamaicans greeted then captain Brian Lara's magnificent double century against Australia that inevitably led to victory.
Jamaicans also swarmed the field 42 years ago to proclaim another world record, Garfield Sobers' marathon, unbeaten 365 against Pakistan that eclipsed Len Hutton's 364.
Williams, a recent head boy at Excelsior High School, alma mater of Walsh in the 1980s, said Walsh has always been his hero.
"He's like a father figure, because we as youngsters look up to him to set a great example for us. I'd be the happiest person in the world to know that I'm a Jamaican and a Jamaican broke the record," Williams said.
Batsman Chris Gayle is the most recent Test team-mate of Walsh and a fellow Jamaican and Excelsior graduate.
Gayle's father, Dudley Gayle, was one of the fans at Kensington looking on and, as much as seeing his son's first Test in Jamaica, excited him, Walsh was also on his mind.
"It would be a happy, happy day when he breaks the record," the 70-year-old retired policeman said. "I am sure he'll do it on his home ground."
Walsh is the leading wicket-taker at Sabina Park, with 37 wickets at 19.91 in his nine Tests.
"For a couple of years, it has been too batsman-friendly, like most of the pitches in the Caribbean," Walsh said of the pitch. "But it's always a favourite place to play because of the way the fans come out to support cricket, the way they carry on, just the atmosphere and the buzz on the ground."
Today, Sabina will be filled to its 15,000 capacity, the home fans urging their hero to make history in front of them.
Barnes had a simple explanation as to why Walsh is so special to Jamaicans.
"He's friendly, he associates himself with the people and that's one of the reasons why people love to come and see him," Barnes said. "He's not seen himself as elevated to a point where he cannot speak to the local man he used to."
Something to prove after a lucky escape
Tony Becca, Senior Sport Editor
March 23, 2000
Courtney Walsh (right) congratulates his bowling partner Curtly Ambrose for winning the Man-of-the-match award after West Indies won the first Test against Zimbabwe at the Queens Park Oval.
THE West Indies victory over Zimbabwe in the first Test at Queen's Park Oval must be ranked among the best in the history of the game. It certainly will be remembered as one of the most exciting finishes.
Set a victory target of 99 runs on the final day after being in front from the start of the contest, Zimbabwe had a glorious opportunity to win the match. The odds of victory, even on a below-par pitch, were definitely in their favour.
The West Indies, however, turned up like tigers, they bowled and fielded brilliantly, they were led by a captain whose nature is to fight to the end and, once they got on top, there was no stopping them. They never eased up, and in a super effort, they destroyed Zimbabwe for 63.
The celebration which followed was not because the West Indies beat Zimbabwe. That, after all, was expected.
The celebration was a reaction to a great recovery, a response to a super effort when everything appeared lost and, after the manner in which the West Indies surrendered in South Africa a year or so ago and in New Zealand recently, the euphoria around the region is understandable. The fans are happy the fighting spirit is back - that the Windies had it in them to comeback from the grave and win in style.
There is no question about it. A victory like that is worth celebrating - especially as the West Indies believed it was possible, that they planned for it and that with pacers Franklyn Rose and Reon King playing a part in it, it was not left to veterans Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose to once again work their magic.
Walsh, dependable as usual, rocked Zimbabwe early when he handed the Windies their first wicket, he stung them again when he removed top scorer Grant Flower at 51 for five and Ambrose, in his usual devastating style, wrapped it up with the last three wickets.
The great escape may not have been possible, however, but for King and Rose.
King bowled well when he replaced Walsh. Unlike the first innings, he kept things tight and he mounted the pressure on Zimbabwe when, with Trevor Gripper going leg before wicket, he took the important second wicket at 20 for two; and it was Rose who knocked the visitors off balance by removing the number four, number five, number seven and number eight batsmen and sent them reeling towards defeat at 62 for six.
In the euphoria, however, the players should remember they were in jail against Zimbabwe, and as great as their escape was, they were probably aided and abetted by a team which probably could not believe it was in such a wonderful position against the once mighty West Indies and by a set of batsmen who probably spent the previous night pinching themselves.
It may not have mattered how they approached the task of getting 99 runs to win the match, but Zimbabwe certainly made it easy for the West Indies. Their batsmen stifled themselves to death.
One school of thought is Zimbabwe wanted to go for it, but were forced to abandon their plan when Walsh cut down Neil Johnson, their main attacking batsman, at four for one.
Another school of thought is that they decided to see off Walsh and Ambrose, wait for Rose and King, and win the match off them. If that was it, Zimbabwe were unfortunate. Rose and King rose to the occasion.
But for the excitement of the last day, and despite the pitch, the first Test match was a disappointing affair. While Zimbabwe must still be kicking themselves for wasting an opportunity to defeat one of the big names of cricket, the West Indies, as brilliant as they were in the trench, as happy as they have made the fans, should be thanking their lucky stars for escaping the embarrassment of losing to the cinderellas of the game.
Both teams, therefore, have something to prove in the second and final Test starting at Sabina Park tomorrow.
In going for a victory which would leave the series a draw, Zimbabwe will certainly want to prove that they can bat better than they did in their second innings at Queen's Park Oval. Apart from convincing the fans that there is a new spirit in the team, the West Indies will certainly want to show they can bat better than they did in both innings.
Saluting the spirit
Trinidad Internet Express
March 22, 2000
MORE than anything else, it is the fighting spirit that flashed forth so arrestingly on Monday at the Queen's Park Oval that we must celebrate.
We give thanks for the victory it strode resolutely towards, and we dare to believe that the reservoir from which it was drawn holds a supply that can only have been replenished by that utterly magnificent performance by the West Indies cricket team.
For our newly-appointed captain, Jimmy Adams and coach, Roger Harper, it must go down as one of their most memorable moments in cricket. It is, however, only the first step toward rebuilding the team confidence.
We take it as a symbol of hope, even as we are mindful that the batting was still too tentative to provide anything seriously challenging to even a fledgling team such as Zimbabwe. We prefer to concentrate instead on the infectious nature of self-confidence and the addictive allure of winning, and to urge our batsmen to rise to the stature of their teammates with faith and commitment.
We have seen the effect of a highly charged bowling attack; what we need now is to see the corresponding electricity crackling out of the willow.
West Indians everywhere are elated but we are still aware that we entered Monday dreading yet another defeat because we had given Zimbabwe less than a hundred runs to make. Zimbabwe is one of the weakest teams on the Test circuit, and that their ordinary bowling created so much discomfort for our batsmen demands that we pay attention to this frailty.
Perhaps it was the absence of spectators at the Oval which helped to bring home to the players just how dispirited the public had become; perhaps it was the feeling of a new beginning which ignited their spirits. Whatever motivating combination it was, we applaud its response from the bottom of our hearts.
The next match begins on Friday at Sabina Park, and this win will surely guarantee larger crowds than the faithful who carried out their vigil in the first Test. As the team flies off to Jamaica, we offer our congratulations and our lifted spirits as companions along the journey.
March 21, 2000
AGAINST all odds, the West Indies’ battery of fast bowlers shot down lightweights Zimbabwe for 63 to provide their team with one of the most amazing victories in modern day Test cricket at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad yesterday. Zimbabwe, the newest and weakest of the nine Test- playing nations, were given just 99 to win but unbelievably folded under the West Indian bowling barrage led by veterans Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.
The remarkable 35-run victory would have been especially sweet for Jamaican Jimmy Adams, who was leading the team for the first time.
After crawling to 47 for three, Zimbabwe fell apart, their last seven wickets tumbling for 16 runs.
Frankyn Rose orchestrated the collapse with a magnificent spell in which he took three for eight in six overs. He finished with four for 19 off 13 overs.
Ambrose cleans up
Ambrose applied the coup de grace by taking the last three wickets without conceding a run, while the durable Walsh collected the key scalps of much-touted Neil Johnson and the obdurate Grant Flower to inch nearer to Kapil Dev’s world record haul of 434 wickets.
Flower, who battled his way to 26, was the only Zimbabwean to reach double figures. Inexperience, a wearing pitch and poor batting were the primary reasons Zimbabwe lost a match they were poised to win.
It was only the second time in Test history that a team had successfully defended a winning target of less than 100.
The previous lowest target was 85 which England were given to defeat Australia at The Oval in 1882. They were all out for 77.
Only about 100 spectators were in the ground at the start of play but the crowd swelled as West Indies closed in on victory after nine defeats in their previous 11 Tests.
Adams celebrated his side’s unexpected victory by ripping a stump out of the ground and cavorting around the pitch after Ambrose bowled last man Mpumelelo Mbwanga.
Adams said his quartet of pacemen had “bowled fantastically”.
“Rose and [Reon] King did as much as anyone could have asked of them. I’m really happy for them. They’re two for the future.”
West Indies v Zimbabwe: Immediate Reactions after first Test match
Colin Croft - 22 March 2000
David Houghton - Zimbabwe's Cricket Coach:
"We led for four days and about one session, and in the last two hours, got bowled out brilliantly. Remember, it is never over until the fat lady sings. She tuned up well today. The West Indies fast bowlers, Walsh, Ambrose, King and Rose were magnificent. They bowled 47 overs, and there was hardly a ball to be hit anywhere off the square. The fact that we are all out was one thing, but we only scored 63 runs.
It was a great example of disciplined line and length bowling from the West Indian fast bowlers. There was not much I could do today. Today was all about the players on the field being able to control their nerves well and see the game through. It was a very nervous time for me. I actually went and took a walk around the block as the tension was getting to me. I simply could not watch at one stage. At the end of the day, we simply were not strong enough mentally. We simply did not seem to have that belief in our ability to win. We have only won 3 Tests in our short history.
We did not have that belief today. The more the pressure mounted, the more the effort flowed into the West Indies and the more it ebbed out of us. I hope that this does not keep us down for too long. At least we are a young side, and we do try and learn from our results. I am just hoping that in Jamaica, we get on to a pitch which is more fluent in runs.
Those runs tended to dry up here at Trinidad. The last 16-17 wickets fell for about 90 runs. It was not exactly a high-scoring game. Our positives were that we actually bowled and batted with some discipline too, for about three-quarters of the game. Our bowlers were particularly impressive in both innings, and Andy Flower innings was very gutsy indeed. We have got to work on our batting a bit, to be quite honest, but I hope that we can get a pitch in Jamaica which would allow us to play a few more shots."
David Rudder - Calysonian & Composer/Singer of the West Indies Cricket Team anthem `Rally 'round the West Indies':
"We finally woke up and started the battle today. If we can continue to play the way we played this morning, then I think that we are halfway there. History helped us today. We tend to fight when our backs are against the wall. I remember that one-off game against South Africa in 1992 in Barbados. It was a similar situation. I think that, mentally, some of the old hands who played in that game remembered the effort and passed it on to the youths of the team.
The old guys led the way. Look, I know that (Curtly) Ambrose, psychologically, knows the (Queens Park) Oval is his ground, in a sense. (Franklyn) Rose, in the meantime, really rose to the occasion. Forgive the pun. That was the difference. The outfielding was way ahead of what we have been doing for a long time. If a man is good and he is 45 years old, and he is performing, and the others cannot come up to standard, you keep that man. With all the joy of victory, I think that we still need to look seriously at our batting. We still have to correct a lot of things there. Although I have the anthem for Westr Indies cricket, for which I feel pretty honored, I feel pretty good about this win, so I would want to dedicate my new song "It does not get any better than this" to the West Indies team."
Roger Harper - New cricket coach of the West Indies cricket team:
"Look, I am very delighted at this win, but this is not about me. The focus should not be on me. I am just one of the support team behind the team on the field. They went out there and they got the job done. All along, these guys wanted to show everyone that they loved playing for the West Indies, and are committed to turning things around. They did just that today. On that last night, instead of focussing on the fact that we did not get as many runs as we may have wanted, we decided that whatever score we had on the scoreboard, they (Zimbabwe) still had to make them to win.
Whatever we had, had to be enough. We could not add any more to it. Whatever we ended up with, we were prepared to go out there and defend it. The guys stuck to the plan and were very disciplined. They bowled magnificently as a unit and we fielded with great enthusiasm and passion. You could not ask for anything better. I am not really worried about the batting, but, yes, I think that we must pay a lot of attention to the batting.
We need to get some more runs on the scoreboard. We can see improvements in certain areas. The players are giving us, the new management team, their full support and the players are responding very well. They have been showing a lot of commitment and effort and we really cannot fault them. In the recent past, we just were not getting the results and sometimes the production we wanted in the run department, buy we also believe that with the continued disciplined approach with the batting, it will come."
Curtly Ambrose - Veteran West Indian Fast Bowler and `Man of the Match':
"We knew that we did not have as many runs as we would have liked. It should always be very difficult to defend 98 runs at Test level or any kind of cricket and it was here too. We came out this morning, knowing within ourselves that if we get a good start, get a couple of early wickets, we could put pressure on the Zimbabweans and then anything could happen. In the end, we prevailed.
I have had some good success over the years at the Queens Park Oval. It is one of my favorite grounds, really. I have normally done well here. It was a uphill struggle. When Franklyn Rose came in and got four wickets, that turned the game. We were then able to capitalize and come out winners. Winning by 35 runs was much too close for comfort, actually. They showed that they have some fight in them and that if they have the right discipline, then they could give us a run for our money. We have not been scoring much runs lately, and we have to go back to the drawing board and to find a way to scoring more runs.
What happened at the end here will not happen every day. The bowlers especially hope that we can get more runs in Jamaica. Lots of people think that at 36 and 37, that both Courtney Walsh and myself are way past it. I do not think so. We may not be bowling as quickly as we used to, but we are very experienced, and I believe that we still have very much cricket left in us and we do not want to leave West Indian cricket without knowing that the youngsters can carry on the job. We want to make sure that when we leave, they would be fully ready. I do not know when I will stop playing.
If I can maintain my health and my form, and continue to help West Indies win matches, then I will go on for a while. I cannot say when I will leave. I will take it game by game."
Zimbabwe's captain - Andy Flower:
"I am very disappointed at this result. That's the way it goes sometimes. We knew when we won the toss and fielded first that we were leaving ourselves open to batting last on a wearing pitch, a pitch that was going to keep somewhat low. I thought that the West Indian fast bowlers bowled superbly. They did not give the batsmen anything to score from and built pressure that way. The variation of the pitch caught people in front of the stumps and occasionally went under the bat. But we probably got a bit too defensive and we should have tried to reverse the pressure somewhat.
We should have gotten that 99 runs though, no doubt of that. We won most of the first four days and then capitulated on the last. We have got to be stronger than that. We must be better than that under pressure. We have heard that the pitch at Sabina Park in Jamaica helps the faster bowlers even more but I reckon that we can compete with these guys.
We should have won this one. We now have to put this result behind us and most importantly, learn from it. We certainly can take wickets against these guys and if we show a bit of guts, then we can make big runs against these guys. I would have loved to have taken the winner's trophy from here, but there are lots of lessons you learn when you are playing Test cricket or even One Day Internationals, when you are playing against quality opposition. Hopefully the guys will take lessons away from this game for the next."
West Indies' captain - Jimmy Adams:
"I am very happy indeed to win this game. I am particularly happy for the effort put in by the guys to win the game. Sometimes, we put in the effort and do not always get the results. This time, the result paralleled the effort and we are all very delighted. Sometimes when you are facing the situation which we were facing this morning, sometimes it draws the best out of players. This was one of those times.
Brian Lara has always been a great influence and will always be. His presence in the dressing room was important and very welcomed. We need to start putting more runs on the score board, but I am confident that we have the players to do it and I am confident that the runs will be coming. It is too early to get into that 2nd Test match now. Right now, we are on 'Cloud 9', so we need a couple of hours to come down a little bit. I have not even thought that far. In the next few days, we will go over this game very objectively, analyze it well, and see what we come up with, but it is a bit too early to get into that. The four fast bowlers bowled really well.
With all respects to Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, I cannot have enough praise for Reon King and Franklyn Rose. In the end, they maintained the same amount of pressure that the two old guys did, and I think that it is a wonderful sign for the future. I think that the team is doing very well under the circumstances. We have not been together that long, but I think that everyone is learning fast and everyone is committed to improving in every area. Most of that improvement is teamwork.
Once every player buys into the putting in the effort, then we cannot ask any more. Definitely, we are very positive. The bottom line is that we always want to win, irrespective of what team or what management structure or what captain we have, we want to win. I went to a specialist this morning and the knee structure is intact. It will be sore, but it is sound. Barring anything unfortunate, the specialist was very confident that everything will be okay. Winning always eases the pain (laugh)."
Dr. Rudi Webster - Newly appointed sports psychologist/performance enhancer of the West Indies cricket team:
"It was a fabulous victory, almost as good as the Barbados victory last year against Australia. Last night, the chaps were a little bit down, but we said to them that we had done this several times before, and we then went through the history of the times when we had come back and won. By the end of the meeting, they genuinely started to believe in themselves. Somehow, the feeling was there.
There was no real rational reason for it, but we felt as though we were going to win. This team has improved in a lot of ways. Of course they did not bat as well as they should have, but at least they have been patient. What we have been preaching to them, particularly Roger Harper, at the camp, was that patience, persistence and sticking to the basics were important to get the best out of the camp and the players.
Most teams probably would have given in on this last day. We had a full commitment from the players. All of the players suggested that whatever we had on the score board, was enough. When you heard that from Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and then you heard Franklyn Rose exclaim 'We did this against India last year, so we can do it again,' and even Reon King, who is so very "quiet", put up his hand and said, simply, 'We are going to beat these people', you had the feeling that something would happen.
The four fast bowlers were fantastic. They backed up their word. I was very proud of "Kingy", "Rosey", "Amby" and "Walshy". Whereas in the first innings, when the two vintage bowlers had done so well, the two younger ones let themselves and the team down, the second innings was different. On the final day, Rose and King probably bowled better than the two front line bowlers. Let us look at the entire picture. The team spirit is fantastic.
We have a highly motivated team. One might say that the ability might not be as it was perhaps ten years ago, but I believe that if we can marshal what ability we have and really have the players working at optimum, then we can give a great account of ourselves. In New Zealand, they played well below their potential. Overall, the West Indies have been playing well below what they are capable of. We may not have brilliant players in our batting line-up, but if we can get each one of those guys to play and bat near to his potential, give us a regular half century at least, then I think that we will be very competitive.
However, we are not deluding ourselves with this win. We know that at the end of every contest, there is another one starting, and everyone has to start from that point again. We now have to prepare all over again for the 2nd Test."
Courtney Walsh - Veteran West Indian fast bowler:
"It is just good to get a Test match win under our belts. I think it was a great way to welcome Curtly back into the team. I had not played with him for a while, so it was nice for him to come in and to start winning again. I am a bit disappointed that he got so many wickets instead of me, but, on a serious note, it was great to see him back.
Yes, we, the old veterans held our own well. Even more pleasing was that young Franklyn Rose and Reon King came through. In New Zealand, "Kingy" bowled magnificently. He bowled just as well here, even though the wickets did not show for his tremendous efforts. I think that it shows well for the future to see that our young fast bowlers are still so committed to the effort. Rose did not bowl so well in New Zealand, but he has come back well. I am happy that we are still around while these guys are coming through. We know now that we have enough guys to take our places. We definitely will have better things for the future.
It was really good for the team to win this game. With Brian (Lara) not around, our best batsman, many people were suggesting that we would not do well. Obviously, we have not been scoring enough runs recently, but to win a Test match without Brian is a great feeling. Whenever he comes back, he will add a bit more depth to our batting. This win will give the youngsters some confidence, I am sure. Young Wavell Hinds have done well under pressure here and did not do too badly.
We really have to support the youngsters and given the opportunity, with some competition for places, our batting will come and dominate as it used to. It was not a plan, but it would be a "dream come through" for me to break that record in Jamaica. I wanted to get some more wickets here so that it would not be so difficult in Jamaica. I now have to work a lot harder to get that record. It would be wonderful to achieve that in front of my home crowd and supporters.
I hope that Sabina Park will be full and that I can achieve the record there. We went to bed last night with the exact feeling that we can and will win the game. Once we did the basics right, those 99 that Zimbabwe needed would always have been difficult. I actually told the coach that if Zimbabwe are to get this total, then they will have to bat and bat like hell.
The runs were already on the score board, so all we had to do was work and work hard, and we should win. We did not know much of the Zimbabweans in the 1st innings, but we learned quickly in the 2nd to get stuck into them. We discussed it at length and it worked. We talked to each other in the field of play and we are all working together.
Being the senior guy, I tend to look out for most of the signs where I can help the youngsters. Everyone is listening and trying to do the right thing. The youngsters are very willing to try something. The fitness was not a problem. I had a bit of flu in the camp, so I had to really work hard, with lots of liquids, to get through the hot afternoon.
It was really good for us to have those rain breaks so that I could recover somewhat. It seems that we play better under pressure, but to be honest, we do not want it. We would prefer that we have no pressure but still win. We, the bowlers, would really like to see some more runs on the board, so that the bowlers do not have to work so damned hard. The team was totally committed.
It was really a moral booster for us, after New Zealand. The crowds' support, on every day, was fantastic. The crowds did not have to come out to support us. We had not done so well in New Zealand and no Trinidadian was playing here, but they came and supported anyway, about 4000 per day. We are very grateful for the help of the crowds."
These West Indian players did well. They need all of the support that they can get. Let us give it to them, please.