By Neto Baptiste
The decision to bat on a pitch that obviously offered plenty to fast bowlers was the first in a string of mistakes that eventually led to what was a humiliating innings and 63 runs defeat for the region’s senior men’s team in their first of two Tests against South Africa in St Lucia.
This is according to batting legend and one of the most successful captains in the history of West Indies cricket, Antiguan Sir Vivian Richards.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Sir Viv said that winning the toss and opting to bat “backfired” on the home team.
“Here’s a pitch that hasn’t been played on in a while, so no one would really know exactly, the behaviour of the pitch itself, and it’s nice you could have this confidence believing that winning the toss you can go and amass a huge total to put the South Africans under pressure but that didn’t materialise and from what you saw from the behaviour of the wicket in itself because it looked pretty pace friendly. The ball was dancing around a bit, a little swing, so I was a little surprised with that we won the toss, and it’s a brave move, but in a sense it backfired,” he said.
South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada took five wickets to help the visitors to victory over West Indies. The tourists carried a lead of 143 into day three and completed the job before lunch at the Daren Sammy Stadium for their first away Test victory since 2017.
Scorer of 8,540 runs in 121 Tests, Sir Viv backed a decision to include Shai Hope in the squad for the opening Test, but said the team batted poorly overall.
“He’s one of the better players in the team and even though he may not be scoring that heavily at Test match level, I don’t think he could have done any worse than maybe a [John] Campbell who was there at that time, so all that I think was a positive move in my opinion. It really didn’t work out in the first Test match but that I think was pretty solid in that decision making,” he said.
“This South African pace attack, they are good users of the seam with consistency in terms of the length, the line and so there is no easing up and I think we’ve got to work a little bit harder because we are going to be under pressure playing a lot of deliveries at times in the area which batsmen don’t quite enjoy,” he added.
The former captain, who never lost a series, said the players must “dig deep” and win the second and final Test if they are to restore pride.
“You have to dig deep. We are at home and I think we are a good enough team that can bat and regardless of what you may hear folks say, I will always be in the corner of the maroons. There are times when you are disappointed and you want them to do better and this is an opportunity for us to get behind this team 120 percent,” Sir Viv said.
The second Test is scheduled to start on Friday, June 18, at the same venue. The teams will then travel to Grenada where they will play a five-match T20 series.