Twice during the second session in Bridgetown on Monday, West Indies were denied the wicket of Ahmed Shehzad on account of a bowler overstepping. In the first instance, Shannon Gabriel struck Shehzad plumb in front of the stumps, only for a review to show it was a no-ball. Shehzad was on 21 at the time and that delivery was Gabriel’s sixth no-ball of the innings. A few overs later, Roston Chase, bowling off spin, would have had Shehzad out stumped for 32 had he not overstepped. Overall, West Indies conceded nine runs in no-balls in Pakistan’s innings on the second day, eight from Gabriel.
It was the kind of performance that West Indies’ bowling coach Roddy Estwick said was a sign of “ill-discipline”, and prompted him to suggest some sort of penalty so that bowlers would start taking responsibility for these mistakes on the field.
“We have to make sure there is some kind of action starting from the nets, people have to be penalized for it,” Estwick said. “Because you can’t continue at the international level to be bowling no-balls. For me, it’s ill-disciplined because you can go through ODIs and T20Is and not bowl no-balls, and then you come into Test matches and you are bowling a cluster of them. To make it even worse, the spinners are bowling no-balls and that is not acceptable at all.
“They could be fines, they could be any punishments – for every no-ball that you bowl, you have to do 10 sprints, whatever. But there must be some way that people will take accountability for what’s happening. You have to accept the responsibility, it’s you bowling no-balls. I can only help you prepare but when you go out in the middle you have to be as disciplined as possible.
“Just like, if a person plays a bad shot, there is nothing a batting coach can do about it. If someone drops a catch, they blame the fielding coach but I think it’s all down to discipline, everybody making sure that on the field of play he is as disciplined as possible. I will try and correct it in the nets but it is up to the players to take ownership when they walk out on the field.”
The no-ball issue isn’t a new one facing the side. In the first Test in Jamaica, West Indies gave away 12 runs in no-balls in Pakistan’s first innings, six from Gabriel. Although there were no wicket-taking chances squandered because of overstepping in that innings, West Indies still ended up conceding 27 runs in extras in Pakistan’s total of 407.
West Indies did fight back in the final session in Bridgetown on Monday, taking three wickets in a space of five overs, but Estwick said the team would have to lift their game considerably given the lack of assistance for seamers on the track and Pakistan’s score of 172 for 3 at the end of the day, 140 runs behind West Indies’ first-innings total of 312. Estwick stressed they couldn’t allow Pakistan to run away with a big first-innings lead.
“We were very sloppy between lunch and tea,” he said. “That’s the area that we have got to improve. We dropped one or two catches. We got wickets off no-balls. That’s the focus we have to try and improve on because you can’t afford, on an unresponsive pitch like this for seam bowlers, to make the kind of mistakes we did during lunch and tea. We came back nicely between tea and close of play but before tea it was disheartening to see the performance.
“We have to correct it and correct it quickly because we can’t allow Pakistan to get a lead. Because once they get a lead, going into day three or four, that is going to be very, very difficult.”