Windies pace attack harkens back to days of old

By Karunya Keshav for ICC Cricket June 10, 2019

West Indies' pacers have shown sparks of the old Caribbean fire, but it needs to translate into more consistency, and wins for the team, before they can be truly compared to the greats of that era. 

There is a moment in the 32nd over of Australia's innings, when Steve Smith, fending off one of Oshane Thomas' rockets, is scorched on the hand and needs Australia's physio to run out. Andre Russell, he of the original X-factor in a tournament full of prospects, is down as well, nursing the knees on which he’s been limping all day. Thomas, all young, pacy and hungry, waits for his turn with the physio. Then, they are all at it again.

Against the background of Trent Bridge, if ever there could be a poster of the chaos that this West Indies pace attack could cause – and be consumed by – it is this pause in play. And it is a theme that plays out all day.

The West Indies pace fivesome of Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell, Russell, Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite accounted for all 10 Australian wickets, and all but five overs on Thursday, June 6. In the process, they gave away 24 runs through wides.

Thomas’ delivery that Finch feathered to the 'keeper was a peach. It was perfectly bowled: good length, angled in towards off, drawing the batsman forward, and just a little away movement off the seam. This, after his first ball of the day flew for five wides, and three balls later, he overstepped.

Russell was exhilarating every time he came on. The set-up of Usman Khawaja was perfect: short, short, then full and wide. But between those game-changing spells, he limped off like a soldier worthy of a Cottrell salute, his knee protesting a fast bowler’s unforgiving grind.

Cottrell and Thomas had bounced Pakistan out in West Indies' opening game, and they set out to do it again against Australia. If not with the rising ball itself, then with the rising fear it sparked. Australia, with a glamorous top order of Finch, Warner, Khawaja, Maxwell – batsmen hardened on the country's bouncy pitches – were reduced to 38/4, then 79/5. But they finished on 288 and West Indies went on to lose by 15 runs.

For a while there – and for the second time in this tournament – West Indies sparked the imagination of the romantics, for most of whom cricket was a Caribbean fast-bowling machine of four parts whirring in tandem. As was evident by their struggle for consistency and control, this lot isn’t at the same level as the masters whose names are being invoked — but, ah, the potential! Even as two of their best, Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach, are on the bench.

“They’re quick. And they like the short ball – my chest still hurts a bit,” was the wry assessment of Australia’s left-arm speedster, Mitchell Starc, of his opposing bowlers.

“It’s much more enjoyable catching it than batting it.” Shai Hope, the Caribbean wicket-keeper said. “It’s very exciting seeing those guys charging in with the brand new ball, putting the batsmen under pressure. It’s a sight to see from behind the stumps.”

Thomas, 22, had played just nine ODIs before the World Cup; Cottrell had featured in 14. This isn’t an experienced line-up. Yet, they have enlivened West Indies’ campaign.

"[The pace attack] is going to be a huge weapon for them going forward in this World Cup,” declared Starc, and captain Holder has left little doubt around his strategy. At the risk of slow over-rates and being wayward, he wants more aggression – “smart aggression” – to get them the crucial early wickets.

They know they need to tighten up. Adjust quickly. Find discipline. Be near the standards of greatness that they've reminded everyone of. The world has only now taken notice, but they have been backing themselves.

“We don’t want to send messages, we want to win games,” said a vehement Brathwaite. “We scored 421 against New Zealand, everyone said we sent a message. We shot Pakistan out for 105, everyone said we sent a message.

“And today we lost. The dressing room is gutted. We thought we had Australia on the ropes. Regardless of whether the message is sent or not, we want to win.”

Related items

  • Pollard blames extras for defeat to India Pollard blames extras for defeat to India

    West Indies limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard has placed the blame for a six-wicket defeat to India in the first T20 international of their tour of India squarely at the feet of the bowlers.

    The West Indies, sent into bat in the first game of a three-match series, batted well to score 207-4 from their 20 overs, but found the big total not enough, as India romped to 209-4 in 18.4 overs.

    For the West Indies, Evin Lewis scored 40 from 17 deliveries, Brandon King announced himself with 31 from 23 balls, and Shimron Hetmyer notched his first half-century in international T20s with 56 from 41. Pollard scored 37 from 19, Jason Holder had a worldwind 24 not out from nine balls, while Denesh Ramdin ended unbeaten on 11 from seven.

    In reply, KL Rahul slammed 62 from 40 deliveries, while India captain Virat Kohli was imperious with 94 not out from 50 deliveries.

    “Batters had a good effort. You'd take 208 ten out of 10 times,” said Pollard after the game.

    “We lost due to the extras column,” said Pollard.

    In a bowling innings where Kesrick Williams had none for 60 in 3.4 overs, and Holder struggled, going wicketless for 46 runs, it was still the extras column that was problematic for the skipper. While Sheldon Cottrell was good, taking 1-24 from his four overs, and Khary Pierre took two wickets for 44, the 23 extras, stemming from 11 illegal deliveries, the West Indies racked up was too much.

    “Nearly two and a half overs of extra deliveries. Yes, it was a batting wicket, but if we executed our plans better, it could've been a different story,” said Pollard.

    Despite the loss and the manner of defeat, Pollard believes the outing was good for the West Indies and showed they were not far away from being a very good T20 side.

    “There are only two areas where we lost the game in. Usually we tend to focus on negatives, but a lot of positives to take away today. King and Hetmyer showed great intent. Fielders did well. In the end, we need to improve, and we will win if we learn to tick more boxes. Can't fault the effort of the guys."

    The West Indies will look to get the formula right on Sunday when they again go up against India in a bid to even the series at The Greenfield Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram.

  • Hurricanes' spinner Jason Campbell suspended for illegal action Hurricanes' spinner Jason Campbell suspended for illegal action

    Cricket West Indies has confirmed that an Opinion Report by an Independent Assessor at Loughborough University has found the bowling action of Leeward Islands Hurricanes’ left-arm spinner Jason Campbell to be illegal and, as such, he has been suspended from bowling in domestic West Indies matches with immediate effect.

  • Kohli stars again in run chase as India ease to victory over West Indies Kohli stars again in run chase as India ease to victory over West Indies

    Captain Virat Kohli led from the front, hitting an unbeaten 94, as India overhauled West Indies' total of 207-5 with ease to record a six-wicket win in the Twenty20 series opener.

    While not at his fluent best in the early stages, Kohli picked up the pace in the second half of India’s impressive run chase, rushing his side over the line with eight balls to spare in Hyderabad.

    The right-hander was afforded time to get his eye in by the efforts of team-mate KL Rahul, who passed 1,000 runs in the format at international level during his knock of 62.

    West Indies had cleared the boundary 15 times to set what appeared to be a stiff target at the halfway stage, Shimron Hetmyer leading the onslaught with 56. His maiden international T20 half-century was not without the odd slice of luck, however, as India missed a number of opportunities in the field.

    The home team failed to take three successive chances at the start of the 17th over, allowing West Indies to post the second highest total by a touring team in a T20 fixture on Indian soil.

    Evin Lewis (40) and Brandon King (31) added 51 for the second wicket, while captain Kieron Pollard weighed in with 37 from 19 deliveries, matching Hetmyer’s tally of four sixes.

    Jason Holder managed two maximums himself in the final over as he contributed 24 not out, though he was on the receiving end of some heavy hitting during an India reply that overcame the early setback of losing Rohit Sharma for eight.

    Rahul - back at the top of the order in place of the injured Shikhar Dhawan - helped put on a century stand with his skipper before becoming the second batsman to fall to left-arm spinner Khary Pierre (2-44).

    Still, by that stage Kohli had moved through the gears as he motored towards the target. Kesrick Williams came in for some particularly heavy punishment, leaking 60 runs from his 3.4 overs, as India prevailed in the first of three T20 matches between the sides.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.