West Indies’ captain Jason Holder has called on his team-mates, particularly the batsmen, to “look in the mirror” following their heaviest defeat against New Zealand in the first Test, by an innings and 134 runs.
West Indies were bowled out for 138 and 247 on a Seddon Park surface that saw New Zealand rack up 519 for 7 despite losing the toss and being sent in. The second innings was rescued from a collapse by a 155-run stand for the seventh wicket between Jermaine Blackwood (104) and Alzarri Joseph (86), but apart from them, no West Indies batsman crossed 30 across two innings.
The top five totalled 100 runs between them across two innings and Holder didn’t mince words at the post-match presentation, saying the top order needed to stand up.
“I think it’s time we start delivering and stopped talking,” Holder said. “We’ve talked a lot, we’ve promised a lot. I think it’s a matter for us to all look ourselves in the mirror and understand that we’ve got to fight a little harder. We’re just probably throwing the towel in too easily, just being honest. We’ve just got to turn it around and only we can do it. We’ve had brilliant support from this management and staff, they’ve put everything in place. It’s just for us to live up to it.
“Credit to Jermaine Blackwood and Alazarri Joseph to bring some respectability towards our batting, but quite frankly our top order just needs to stand up.”
One of the asks Holder had of his batsmen was to be prepared to shelve certain shots early in their innings, and sell their wickets more dearly.
“In all honesty, we’re still scratching our heads,” he said. “Leading up to the first Test, I felt the preparation was good. I think our preparation has always been really good. It’s just trying to send it out into the Test circuit. We had two solid warm-up games in Queenstown. Albeit the surfaces were a little bit different to what we’ve come up against here in Hamilton, but I still think a little bit more application needs to be shown, particularly up front. I think up front we’ve got to work a little bit harder.
“We’ve seen how the New Zealand bowlers, like any other bowlers in the world, they tend to get flat as partnerships build. We just need to be able to understand that, fight a lot harder, keep them out there a little bit longer. Even if we give up one or two scoring shots that we feel as though we can count on to pounce on early. The longer you spend (at the crease) the easier it becomes. There’s a lot of things we need to look at, we need answers and we need them quickly.”
West Indies will play their second and final Test of this series from December 11 in Wellington, but they are likely to be without two men who were part of their XI for the first Test. Kemar Roach is set to fly back to West Indies, having lost his father two days before the first Test started, while Shane Dowrich is a doubtful starter. Dowrich picked up a finger injury on the first day while keeping, and didn’t bat in either innings.
“Kemar, thankfully for us he pushed through this Test match but I think he’ll be going home after this to be with his family,” Holder said. “Shane, we’re not quite sure the extent of his finger injury at the moment. He’s been complaining of a lot of pain. Looking pretty doubtful for the second Test as well, but we’ve just got to assess for the next couple of days.”
With Dowrich absent on the second day, Shamarh Brooks took the gloves for West Indies. They have the uncapped 22-year-old Joshua Da Silva in the Test squad as the reserve wicketkeeper. A left-field option they could consider is Nicholas Pooran, who is also in New Zealand with the West Indies A side. Pooran made 46 and 35 in a four-day match against New Zealand A, while Da Silva kept wickets.
Men’s Hundred – Eoin Morgan
Middle order failing to fire, absence of three members of Test squad, Maxwell’s relatively late withdrawal hurt winless London Spirit
But five games into their first season, the Spirit have been the Hundred’s weakest side. They are the only side in the men’s competition yet to win a game, and were thrashed in their fourth and final home fixture (one was a washout) by Northern Superchargers on Tuesday night. The table is still tight enough that they are mathematically in the running, but any realistic chances of qualifying for knockout stages have dissipated.
Their first three defeats were all tight, with each game going down to the final set of five balls. At Edgbaston, they were just short of par in setting Birmingham Phoenix 145 to win, and in the home losses against Trent Rockets and Southern Brave, they were two boundaries away from getting across the line.
“I think throughout tournaments, and group stages, you will be beaten by better sides. There are very few instances when sides go unbeaten throughout a tournament. Where the problem for us lies is that the previous two games we played, we played well for the majority but in clinical parts of the game, we didn’t finish the job and that’s hurt us.”
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of their struggles has been the fact that the squad they assembled does not look like it was built with the long term in mind. While some sides have openly admitted that their draft strategy was to assemble a group that could develop over a number of years rather than simply targeting success in the Hundred’s first season, the Spirit picked a number of veterans and looked – to borrow terminology from the NFL – like a ‘win-now’ team.
All three players were signed as part of the draft in October 2019, rather than through the separate Test player mechanism. None of them held a red-ball central contract at the time – Crawley and Lawrence were both uncapped – and while it was not out of the question that they might miss some games due to inclusion in a Test squad in future seasons, the Spirit were unfortunate to miss all three simultaneously for the majority of this year. To make matters worse, one of the two games for which Crawley and Lawrence were both available was washed out.
“I think every team has gone through it, losing players, particularly their Test guys,” Morgan said. “It’s been challenging, but other sides have found a way. We’ve recruited well, we just haven’t managed to get over the line.
“We haven’t done a lot of things wrong in the previous games that we’ve played. Every game we’d played had gone right down to the wire but to be up there with the pace, you’re doing a lot of positive things. Today [against the Superchargers], we were just beaten.”
But the upshot is that the Spirit are the first men’s team facing a post-mortem into a season that has represented something of a false start. Mason Crane and Blake Cullen have shown flickers of promise with the ball, but positives for future years have been relatively hard to come by. Warne, who missed their last two games after testing positive for Covid-19, tweeted from self-isolation that their defeats against the Rockets and the Brave had been “embarrassing” – his verdict on the season to date is unlikely to be any more favourable.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Bangladesh vs Australia T20Is, 2021
The 1994 tour to Pakistan was the last time a full series was not available to viewers in Australia
For the first time since 1994 a tour by the Australia men’s team will not broadcast into Australia after a last-minute deal failed to materialise for the rights to the T20I series in Bangladesh.
It had been hoped that in the absence of a traditional television deal the series would be streamed on YouTube but there was no live coverage into Australia.
While the occasional one-off limited-overs match has not been seen in Australia over the last few years, it is not since the 1994 tour of Pakistan that an entire series won’t have been shown.
The majority of Australia’s tours are broadcast by Fox Sports who secured the recent series against West Indies just a couple of days before it started but a similar outcome has not happened for Bangladesh.
The ongoing Olympics that is taking most of the attention, the 1am finish time of the matches in Bangladesh and the fact Australia are missing a host of first-choice players may also have been factors in the attractiveness of the series. However, it also highlights what is likely to become an increasingly challenging broadcast market, particularly for perceived lower-key tours.
The series will be the last chance for both sides to work on plans and assess players ahead of the T20 World Cup in October. It was confirmed on Monday that Bangladesh’s proposed series against England of three T20Is and three ODIs in late September had been postponed until March 2023.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
IPL 2021 – Eoin Morgan to return to Kolkata Knight Riders for second half of IPL
He says involvement of other England players in the tournament, scheduled in September-October in the UAE, was a matter of personal choice
England were due to play three ODIs and three T20Is in Bangladesh in September-October but the ECB and the BCB released statements on Tuesday morning confirming that they had “mutually decided” to postpone the tour until March 2023. The IPL is due to resume on September 19 after its postponement midway through the season earlier this year, with the tour’s postponement opening up the opportunity for England’s white-ball players to take part ahead of the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Speaking after his London Spirit side were beaten by Northern Superchargers in the Hundred at Lord’s on Tuesday night, Morgan confirmed that he intends to return to captain the Knight Riders in the rest of the IPL, and said that the involvement of other England players with contracts in the tournament was a matter of personal choice.
“It’s a complete individual decision,” Morgan said. “I think it was a win-win either way. If we went to Bangladesh we’d play in conditions that are foreign to us. If some guys go to the IPL, they’ll play in similar conditions [to the World Cup] or for guys that need a rest, they take a rest.
“We’ve a lot of cricket to play between now and then. We’ve planned on the tour going ahead – that’s been part of our planning for a long time now – but equally, given the nature in which we now compete and live our lives, it’s not a bad thing for guys to either take time off or go to the IPL if they feel refreshed and have enough energy.”
England’s only two remaining T20I fixtures before the World Cup starts on October 17 are due to be played in Pakistan on October 14 and 15, with the ECB and the PCB both confident that the tour will go ahead. The IPL final is also due to be played on October 15, creating a possible clash for any players whose franchises reach that stage of the tournament.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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