Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Updated: Monday, May 17, 2004
From the Michael Findlay Terrace

G. M. Bashar

Another ?moral victory?. That I can safely say is the general verdict from both sides of the fence. Squatting in the Michael Findlay stand I had the pleasure of making some new and warm Vincentian friends. Among them, Eddie was gold. An elderly but sprightly man in his sixties, he had the history and ins and outs of his team in the back of his hands. With decades of experience and insight he was a treasure trove in a sea of a wild and raucous crowd. Together we scrutinized, dissected and occasionally scowled at two teams that seemed to be polar opposites of each other.

I will be very brief and lay out the main points of the observations:

The toss: It was a toss to win. No doubt about it. The windies won the toss amidst a clear morning and promptly decided to field. It had rained heavily the night before and the outfield was slow. It didn?t get unnoticed by Sarwan and he capitalized. Early on in that morning and away from the prying eyes of the press, Bashar had repeatedly fingered the outfield. And walking back to the player?s pavilion he was a very reluctant man being asked to bat. To make matters worse, the whole situation was compounded by the questionable state of the pitch. As such, I will not harp too much on our usual batting debacle.

Facing Pace: Bidyut did not hesitate to demonstrate our weakness for pace. I was expecting a careful stance against any of these windies bowlers. The cherry was new, hard and best left alone and he could and should have waited at least a few overs to test things out. Amazingly, after Best had clearly showed how much bounce and lift he could generate, I was hapless to see Bashar?s odd body language and stance. In short, I believe he is incorrigible and a compulsive hooker. So what did Eddie have to say? Well, they actually love that spirit and expect cricket to be played this way. It took a while for me to explain the concept of cricket suicide to him. It?s fine to go attacking ala Viv Richards if you have 8 or 9 blokes after you ready and willing (and above all capable), to hook, drive and send the ball to the terraces. Bashar and Bidyut are my main worries.

Fielding: What a transformation. This is not the same team I saw a few years ago in BNS. Our fielding was better than the West Indians. Yes, this is true and all credit goes to a wonderful coach. All the Aussie trademark fielding tactics were put to play. Amazing coordination. For example, Tapash dashes to stop the boundary in lightning speed. While still lying down he lobs the ball to Babu, who is a few feet away, ensuring that it is properly and accurately dispatched to Pilot. Delightful athleticism and coordination between 3 players that I failed to see in a pre-Whatmore team. The Windies were taken aback by our aggressive fielding and the silence in the crowds was palpable.

Bowlers: I am still looking for a pacer to swing the ball and bounce the batsmen out on these wickets. Tapash needs to do some homework. His line and length were good but compared to Best he needs to generate enough of the bounce with a bite to bag those crucial early wickets. Having said that, we are getting some results from our seamers and spinners. Mahmud was swinging the ball enough by mid afternoon to look like getting more than his 2-wicket haul. The West Indians duly noted that and were mentally closing shop every time they saw this man. But it was Rana and Pilot that could have decided the match. The West Indians will have problems with our spin strategy and again were caught red handed by the speed of Pilot.

Wicketkeeper: Off and on the field he has the most relaxed, stylish body language I have seen of all the players. Pilot is on a rocket track. If he continues with batting improvements he is good candidate to enter the list of all time wicketkeepers. All the talent is there and he just needs to significantly boost his batting average to compare on an even par with the likes of Sangakarra and Ponting.

A few minutes after defeat the team was back on the ground doing their warm ups with Gloster closely watching each and every man. Overall, this team put my faith back on track. I like this attitude and they played positively. What gives me most comfort, however, is that most of the earlier mistakes are being attended to and above all we are playing to win and not just save face. I will finish with one last quote by a rattled West Indian, this after Babu caught Sarwan a few feet away from us, ? When does Whatmore?s term end??