There were huge expectations from West Indies after their resounding victory against England in the first Test at Southampton. Fans hoped their beloved team had buried the ghosts of the past and was destined for bigger things under Jason Holder's stewardship.
However, as the series progressed, such notions were quickly dispelled. And notwithstanding their lackluster bowling returns, the Windies' batsmen deserve the fair share of the blame.
Though Jermaine Blackwood's heroics at Rose Bowl papered over the chinks in West Indies' batting armor, the consecutive drubbings at Manchester lay them bare. Much to their credit, the batsmen tried shelving their flamboyance to better adapt to the rigours of the longer format, but mending what's almost second nature to them didn't prove the easiest of tasks.
West Indies batsmen flatter to deceive
On Tuesday, with England standing on the verge of triumph, West Indies had no option but to fight tooth and nail in their bid to draw level. However, an age-old narrative played out once again.
There were few eye-pleasing twenties and thirties sprinkled here and there, but as has been the case for years on end, West Indies lacked resilience.
At first, Shai Hope looked like he'd finally discovered his groove after an insipid run of late, crunching handsome drives and backfoot punches off England's pace quartet. However, just when his reassuring presence would have barely calmed the nerves in West Indies' dressing room, he decided to take on Chris Woakes' bouncer at his own peril.
The pull shot attempted from way outside the off-stump, that too from somebody of Hope's mental fortitude, reflected West Indies' inability to play possum even when the situation demanded exactly that.
Shamarh Brooks too appeared fidgety right from the outset, nibbling aimlessly at waist-high deliveries around the fourth-stump channel. He'd miscued an ungainly boundary through the slip cordon and nearly lemon cut one back on to his timber off Jofra Archer.
It didn't take long for Woakes to slip in an in-ducker and shut the lid on Brooks' nervous stay at the crease. With the scoreboard now reading a sorry 79/5 and batsmen going about their business with reckless abandon, it was only a matter of when than how for West Indies.
Sheet-anchor Roston Chase falling prey to some terrible miscommunication opened the floodgates. And Jermaine Blackwood throwing the kitchen sink at anything and everything all but evinced that West Indies were heading full and straight into ignominy.
"Not quite sure what changed after Southampton. We didn't get the runs we were looking for. Had plenty of starts. Got 40s, 30s but didn't kick on. In contrast, when Stokes got in and some of their players got in they went big. Need our batsmen to get runs. Can't ask bowlers to do much more than what they've done so far.", Jason Holder opined at the post-match press conference.
"We're obviously disappointed to lose the series. We had quite a few positives in the series. Just probably a few more conversions from the starts we had got would have done us a lot better.", the losing captain added.
Those who might have overreacted to their Rose Bowl win, believing it heralded a new dawn in Windies' cricket, have had to reevaluate their perception. That lone performance was by no means an adequate sample to declare the side has shunned its happy-go-lucky methods and are now on an upward trajectory.
It will be some time before they'll be able to harness the resources that allow them to field an industrious batting unit capable of dealing with the ordeals of Test cricket. For the moment, West Indies must strive to attain an equilibrium where great performances are the norm rather than a flash in the pan.Published 29 Jul 2020, 01:43 IST