A test match of highs and lows
May 18, 2002
Articles on Carl Hooper
Five days of cricket and the first innings for both teams just about completed that test match that was so boring that I hope that it has not dampened the Jamaican's appetite for the fifth test match which starts today.
Looking back in hind sight I think that we might have got our selection wrong with the decision to play four fast bowlers. As a selector I was aware of the recent historic nature of the Antiguan wicket, but the flatness of the track for the last Test cannot even be compared to previous years. The decision to put India to bat first was based purely on;
1. Having four quicks in the side and wanting to give them the best opportunity of bowling on a track when it was going to be most helpful.
2. I wanted the Indians to face up to their problems immediately, because of how they batted poorly in Barbados.
3.The Antigua wicket over the years has been best to bat on the second and third days.
At the end of the day none of the three considerations were important, the wicket was just too good. Even on the fourth and fifth day as bad as the cracks on the pitch looked it still played perfectly well.
The one thing that I take from that Test is that a good leg spinner might have been interesting to bat against going into the last two days. We had Dinanath Ramnarine sitting on the bench and I thought had the game gone into a third or fourth innings he would have definitely picked up wickets. I think that is something that we must take note of for the future test matches. Anil Kumble the leg spinner in the Indian team might have posed alot of problems for us had he been available for the last two remaining days of the test. On the third evening when he came out and bowled there were enough signs there that facing him on the fourth and fifth day that it was going to be much tougher.
Anyway, I still believe we would have saved the game comfortably, but it would have made the cricket a bit more interesting. It is important for the development and confidence of our team to be tested in these situations and be able to come out of it with good strong positive\ batting.
I must single out Chanderpaul, for another extremely good knock, he continues to play like a man in total control and on the very top of his game. Sarwan and Wavell Hinds played well and of course congratulations to Ridley Jacobs he deserved his century and I could not think of a more fitting way to respond after being left out for the first two test matches.
Our bowlers stood up to the task over the the two and a half days we were in the field. They all stood up to be counted and that was good to sign. They never moaned or winged about the flatness of the track, they just toiled over by over for nearly 200 overs.
I take a lot of heart from their efforts and I compliment them.
That drawn match sets up an enthralling final test in Jamaica and I hope that it is well supported. I still think that if anything our response of 629-9 dec to theirs of 513-9, kept us with a slight edge in the mental battle as we head into the final test match. The Indians would be aware that our batting has remained solid since the Trinidad test match still with our main batter yet to fire as we all know he can. Jacobs' hundred will cause them some worry, because even if it can be argued that the game was heading for a draw it was not given to him on a platter and the innings was full of authority. This obviously is a huge plus for us, because it signals a return to form for Ridley batting at number 7.
Summing up the test match in Antigua, I am still mystified and disappointed that any groundsmen after watching the way the Indians played in the Barbados test match would want to prepare a flat feather bed as they did. I hasten to add again that Anthony Merrick who is a good friend of mine and one of the main curators at the ARG was one of the quickest and most aggressive fast bowlers around in his day. Without a doubt I had a few words to whisper in his ears during the test match, especially during the breaks as our stint in the field went on and on.... He has promised a better track next year, so lets wait and see.
We now move on to Jamaica and I cannot wait to see the sort of track that will be prepared there I know at the very worst the Sabina strip should have a bit more pace and bounce and it would be great to seal a series win there!