Disappointing to say the least.... By Carl Hooper
Stabroek News
April 27, 2002

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Well..... The Indians won the second test after five hard days of gruelling cricket.

Since my return to international cricket this test, I would put down as my most disappointing simply, because it was a game that we NEVER should have lost!

I say this given the bowling strength of the opposition, the way the pitch played on the final two days and the runs that were needed going into the last day. The pitch played much better than any previous tracks at the Queen's Park Oval. The bounce remained for the most part fairly consistent and pace true. There were a few balls that occasionally bounced low, but then that is expected on any wearing fourth or fifth day pitch. I know that the many cricketing experts, expected this one to be difficult to bat on going into the final two days, but I was happy they were proven wrong.

The Indian team had left out Anil Kumble which I thought was good for us. Kumble might have been able to trouble our left hand batters as there were rough areas made quite close to the off stump, by the fast bowlers over the course of the game and on the final day would have been ideal to bowl into. This of course would have made 313 all the more difficult to reach. Kumble would have been difficult, given the pace that he bowls at for a spinner, coupled with his accuracy and the bounce he gets being a tall man. The fact remains that even with his exclusion the Indians were able to bowl us out twice on a relatively good bowling wicket. Support that with the returns of their most recent match winner Harbajan Singh's return of only 3 wickets in the match, one being Adam Sanford and then you will understand why I am so disappointed.

Two out of three of their known match winners did not really feature and still they won. Credit of course should be given to Srinath, Khan and Nehra on that final day.

The unavailability of Nagamootoo for the Test only strengthened my belief of going for an additional fast bowler. Options were either Ramnarine who had replaced him in the squad or Black. With the obvious moisture in the pitch from the preparation and given the heavy rain that fell continously only days prior to the test match, I thought that Black was the right choice. Over the last few years the faster bowlers here in Trinidad were also the ones who were most successful for us.

The toss was going to be important especially with four quicks in the team. Ganguly called wrong and I could see he was not happy when I asked him to take first strike.

I knew that the Indians were having a bit of trouble when I saw the new batting order, Bangar opening, Ganguly down to five, Kumble out. We bowled poorly on the first morning and lost an ideal opportunity to set the game up by bowling the Indians out for a low first innings score. We were both inconsistent in line and length and rarely did we force the batsmen to play.

In such conditions, it is so important to make the batsmen play allmost every ball. The 339 that they made in the end was way too much, at the very most they should have scored 210. We conceded a lead of 90 odd and I felt we could have batted better. Again, too many batters getting in and not carrying on to big three figure scores. That lead of 90-odd I thought was the difference in the end. The game would have been a second innings game and they might have been under a bit more pressure in the second innings. You can always look back and see areas in which you could have done some things better and too often now we are continuing to make the same mistakes again and again. This game also brought back to me the game last year against South Africa, which we should have won!! Just like on the fifth day against them we batted poorly.

Even though one-nil down I still believe that we will win this Test series. I know that we are a better team and we must have the strength, commitment and faith that we can come back from behind. It was a tough test match and the boys were very disappointed. Young Adam Sanford, broke down in tears and it has been a long time since I've seen such emotions being openly displayed in a West Indian team, a good sign!

We must prepare properly, for the third test in Barbados, especially mentally, because that is where I think we are losing these games. The Indians are now in St Lucia, playing against a Busta X1 and I know that the selectors will be there to have another closer look at the Busta X1 team as there are quite a few promising young players pushing hard for places. The squad for the third Test in Barbados will be picked sometime over the weekend. I have a few days off but, still with so much to do and so little time. The crowd support in Trinidad and Tobago was great and no doubt it would be the same in Barbados.

I expect the next time I review a test match in the current series it will be to highlight West Indian outstanding performances and the teams' success.

On a local note, our Guyana team was hosted last evening by the Guyana Cricket Board at a function. This is to show their appreciation for us being crowned 2002Busta International Shield Champions. Well done Manager, Coach and team and the support was tremendous, and I know we will do it again!!!!!

God Bless