By Brian Lara
By the time, West Indies take to the pitch against Zimbabwe tonight, a critical review of their performance against Pakistan should have been done. The way the players bounced back from their loss to Ireland was pleasing.
But every member of that team ought to know that Pakistan, much to the delight of most Caribbean fans, simply did not show up on Sunday. All West Indian fans wanted the volatile Pakistan team with the tendency to self destruct to turn up, and they got it. It is unlikely that India and South Africa or even Zimbabwe, will be as fragile or self destructing and if only for that reason, we needed to assess our performance and seek ways to improve on it.
For one thing, our batters must understand that they have to perform in line with their talent. Half centuries are one thing but you need your best batsmen to go on and lead the way with big scores.
It’s good to know that West Indies won without meaningful contributions from Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, our two most experienced batters. Chris will soon come good but Samuels’ approach was confusing. I wonder what is his role in that critical number four position? His shot selection was baffling for someone with his talent and experience. He needs to be reminded he is playing for a team.
It really is disappointing that Darren Bravo is injured. I hope he will not be absent for too long since his presence is crucial, and he looked like he was warming up to bat through the innings. Ramdin and Simmons are intelligent players and the latter’s century against Ireland has certainly boosted his confidence, and he looks assurred. Another century or two is not beyond him.
Clive Lloyd’s assessment of Andre Russell is sound. Russell has grown into one of my favourite cricketers. He can be as good with the bat or ball, and is a dynamic fieldsman. I love his spirit. Before this tournament is over, we are going to see something spectacular from him. I hope it comes against India or South Africa.
I was still a member of the team when Jerome Taylor first played, which was some time ago. He possesses a good cricketing brain and when on song, he is a handful. Injury has kept him in and out of the team, but he has the ability to move the ball around with good pace, and on these bouncy wickets, West Indies will need him to consistency bowl as well as he did against Pakistan. It’s good to see how the experienced players have rallied around young captain Jason Holder. He must feel good to have won his first World Cup match, and to his credit, his bowling has been excellent.
As young as he is, he and his management team will not want to go into tonight’s match thinking that Zimbabwe are pushovers. They certainly will not be, and if West Indies are complacent, they have a group of accomplished players who will capitalise on it. The Zimbabweans have created some of the biggest upsets in this tournament over the years, and they are quite capable of holding their own. They took some pressure in their opener against the UAE but came away with two points.
For the West Indies to beat Pakistan after losing to Ireland was commendable. Victory tonight will keep the momentum going for Friday’s big test against South Africa. For this to be achieved, however, West Indies must apply the lessons learnt from their first two matches.