Windies progressive Test summer

Fri, Jul 20, '18

by KRISSANIA YOUNG

Commentary

This past summer’s Test schedule was to mould various heroes as Windies were poised to accommodate Asian visitors for the traditional format of the game. With both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh sitting higher than the hosts in the ICC Test Rankings, the opportunity presented itself for the 9th ranked Windies to ascend. The Caribbean side was set to contest five Tests–spanning June 6 to July 16, 2018. With talent on exhibition, designated controversies and impending records, a memorable summer laid ahead.

The hosts’ bowling attack stood tall all summer, acquiring twenty wickets four times in five attempts; the same number as the Jason Holder led unit previously acquired. Windies went unbeaten when taking twenty wickets, winning three times and playing out a single draw. The hosts took 96 of a possible 100 wickets this home season; often turning back the clock with West Indian style bowling on West Indian type pitches. As a result, Windies’ seamers claimed responsibility for 88% of the 96 wickets. These impressive numbers came on the back of the formidable partnership developed between opening bowlers Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel. The two accounted for 36 wickets before Roach’s injury in the first innings of the first test versus Bangladesh in Antigua. It must also be said that throughout this summer, playing five bowlers is the most balanced Windies has looked in recent times. The subsequent partnership between captain Jason Holder and Miguel Cummins was also impressive, accounting for 37 wickets.

Gabriel, who started the season on 83 Test wickets, left destruction in his wake as he was able to step into the ‘100 Test Wickets Club’. Kemar Roach also got to a personal milestone of 150 Test wickets. The often underrated Jason Holder was majestic at times this home season with both bat and ball, leading from the front as a captain should. His tally of 28 wickets this season included three five wickets hauls; to put into perspective Holder’s performance with the ball–his total of 28 wickets equals that of Shannon Gabriel.

In regards to the batting, two batsmen caught the eye; the always reliable Kraigg Brathwaite and wicket-keeper batsman Shane Dowrich. Dowrich’s century led Windies to victory in the first Test this season. He then went on to accumulate 354 runs over the five Tests. Whilst, following a disappointing series versus Sri Lanka, by his standards, the vice-captain gave a reminder as to why he is indeed Windies’ best batsman, recording his seventh and eight Test centuries in back-to-back innings.

Finally, when batting first, Windies batted a combined 335 overs with an average of 112 overs to each 1st innings. This is not far from the 120-over mark which Holder’s men should be seeking to target. However, during the second time at the crease (having batted first), they stuck around for just over 148 over. Almost 50 overs on average to each 2nd innings. In essence, Windies have fallen short by nearly 40 overs when returning to the middle. This, as well as the still-present no-ball issue, are things the West Indies must seek to rectify if they intend to give a good account of themselves in India this October. All in all, it was a summer of progress for this Windies team.