The body language of the bowlers, the pacers in particular, right through the match was quite telling, writes Vivian Richards
The St. Kitt's Test completed a hat-trick of draws in this series something that is pretty rare in modern-day, result-oriented cricket. The result was a foregone conclusion the minute Brain Lara opted to bat again rather than enforce the follow-on.
Predictably, the decision has been discussed at length, and even I think that since there was no way he would have been under pressure. The only reason he might have opted to bat again was the failing fitness of his bowlers.
There was no explanation forthcoming from the captain after the Test, so we will have to keep guessing his reasons and motives.
In my last article I had mentioned the danger of cricket losing spectators, thanks to dead-as-dodo pitches. There is also a cynicism among players that 20 wickets is an impossibility and the body language of the bowlers, the pacers in particular, right through the match was quite telling.
In such conditions, the collapse India suffered on the fourth morning was all the more disappointing. There was a looseness in the technique, and Jerome Taylor was pretty impressive in the first hour. In fact, I think he will be pretty impressive when he grows stronger, and I hope he will get helpful pitches at some point in his career!
For the Indians the whole outing was disappointing. The return of Harbhajan Singh was a good sign, but even though he got five wickets, he was nowhere near his best. Having said that, I would not judge him too harshly as he has not had much bowling in the middle for almost a month. Munaf Patel was pretty good, but he did not have much assistance from the other end.
For West Indies, the Test was an improvement because they were able to dominate proceedings something that had not happened in the first two games. The good form of Darren Ganga is also good news for the side, because he now looks like a long-term prospect as Chris Gayle's opening partner. The duo averages 43 together, and while that is not spectacular, it is an improvement on the preceding opening partnerships. Ramnaresh Sarwan was fortunate to survive some pretty close LBW shouts, but once he got in he looked pretty solid.
Looking ahead to the next game, reports from Kingston suggest that the wicket there is pretty different from the ones we have seen so far in the series. There will be good bounce and the ball will go through. The change will be interesting and hopefully will bring to an end the quest for a result.