Windies lack appetite for fight
By Jonathan Agnew BBC cricket correspondent
August 12, 2004
A MISSIVE from the West Indies team last week expressing support for Brian Lara's captaincy might have kept the critics at bay for a while but an impartial observation of the West Indies' fielding routine the day before the Test, revealed a depressing lack of enthusiasm for a match they have to win to keep the series alive.
The slip catching practice lacked any sparkle, and was little more than what you would see on a primary school playground.
The throws from the fielders taking catches in the deep were wildly inaccurate, lazy lobs to the wicketkeeper.
The players dawdled about, hands on hips. Any diehard West Indian supporter who is upset at the current slump would have wept at the sight of this shambles.
A coach will tell you that the first area on which you work when times are hard is fielding, because every team starts, more or less, on level terms.
It is only through hard work and commitment that the standard is then raised and, for a team struggling to compete with bat and ball, it forms a crucial aspect of the game.
A brilliant catch here or a magical run-out there makes all the difference.
But the effort at this particular display was negligible, slovenly and thoroughly unprofessional. The coach, Gus Logie, must take responsibility for this.
To make it even more outrageous is the fact that up to four players might lose their places in this match.
Fidel Edwards is among the wickets again, Dave Mohamed could replace Omari Banks, Sylvester Joseph threatens Devon Smith's opening position and Carlton Baugh might keep wicket.
But not even this competition inspired the West Indians to press their individual claims by shining at practice, either to earn a reprieve or to ram home a point.
On this evidence, only a miracle - or an inspired individual performance - will disrupt England's domination.
They have now beaten the West Indies five times out of six, and are in no mood to lose their grip.
They worked furiously in the sunshine, determined to keep their success in the forefront, despite competition from the Olympics and the start of the football season.
Having released Gareth Batty, England have only one choice to make - either to play Simon Jones or retain James Anderson.
With the forecast of more rain this week, Anderson would be the more confident of the two.