Mission Incomplete : WI in Aus
29 Nov 2005
By: Liam Camps
No one expected glory from this bunch of West Indians. At best, the goal was to avoid a seemingly inevitable whitewash and avoid utter embarrassment in the same stride. Mission... incomplete.
As epitomized by the form and general impact of captain Chanderpaul throughout the series, the West Indies served only to breast feed the Australians back to form as they prepare to face the quality of South Africa. That, from an Australian perspective, but an objective or West Indian view would see the series not as a tragic failure, but as a learning experience.
Too often tossed around, the term 'learning experience' may have lost meaning for the typical West Indies fan, but controlled emotions and a keen view of the series proves that it is not yet futile.
What must be noted, before getting completely carried away by the scoreline, is that when the positives did show, they were extremely significant. Too little too late, but glimmers of priceless courage and perseverance must have caught the eye of any cricket fan.
Perhaps not graceful in defeat, there were moments in the series when the West Indies proved that they can tussle with the big boys. Too few. Too distant. Too late.
It may be a safe bet to suggest that Dwayne Bravo emerged over the course of his time in Australia. A brilliant second innings century at Hobart left all wondering why Bravo was left out of the first Test, especially in favour of an unfit and under-prepared "fast" bowler (Lawson). The innings served as an immediate injection of confidence into the game of the young allrounder, and he responded with a 6-wicket haul and a classy half-century in the final Test.
Maturity, confidence and thoughtful cricket - 9 out of 10.
Entering the tour, Ramdin's reputation did not extend much further than the quality of his glovework. Eager not to disappoint, the young wicketkeeper continued to apply his main trade outstandingly, whilst bolstering his worth with brave batting. A rearguard 71 at Hobart left some nostalgic for his unbeaten 37 in the first Test, as wickets tumbled around him.
Composure, maturity and reliability - 8 out of 10.
No West Indian fought harder than Brian Lara in the series. Lara knew he was both chasing history and combating bad form, and continued to fight bravely, even in the face of substandard umpiring. He claimed the world record dramatically in his second-to-last innings of the series - 226 - small compensation for a titanic effort.
Heart, determination and grace - 7.5 out of 10.
One of just two West Indian bowlers who consistently exercised a significant amount of control, Corey Collymore was never as incisive as he promised to be. He started the series with a fantastic burst which saw him single-handedly collapse the Australian top order from a position of strength, but a lack of support and generally dominant batting blocked out such outstanding success for the remainder of the series.
Despite a lack of wickets, always a cool head and solid operator - 6.5 out of 10.
It's difficult to give a bad score to a man with a heart condition. Chris Gayle missed the final Test of the series due to heart surgery, but never truly imposed himself at any point before. An interrupted half-century (had to retire hurt due to an irregular heartbeat) at Hobart ended with a poor umpiring decision, but Gayle made little other impact.
Mediocre at best, but not enough opportunity to prove a total failure - 5 out of 10.
As always, Edwards was never faulted for effort. The unfortunate aspect of his series was that the effort never truly transpired as effectiveness. Aside from brief bursts at various points throughout the series, Edwards never achieved the potency of his opposite numbers. However, a tendency to fetch reverse swing and look more genuinely dangerous than the other West Indian bowlers works in his favour.
Tireless effort in a learning experience - 4 out of 10.
A bold start to his tour saw Devon Smith itching for runs. With a century in the bag in the first Tour Match, Smith started with 88 in the Test series. The innings was a lone vigil as the other batsmen capitulated around him. Sadly, a few loose drives and a couple of good balls later, and Devon Smith never again reached double figures.
Promise never fulfilled - 4 out of 10.
Having entered the series in a rich vein of domestic form, the vice-captain procured to gift his wicket to a variety of loose shots, culminating with a familiar top-edged hook in the first innings at Adelaide. He attempted to redeem himself with a classy half-century in the second innings, but poor umpiring cut his aspiration short.
A general lack of maturity and care - 3 out of 10.
Powell continued to try throughout the series. He tried to maintain a consistent line and length, but conceded an economy rate of 4.06. He tried to add penetration to the bowling attack, but averaged 76.40 per wicket.
Never short of effort, but generally short of success - 3 out of 10.
Samuels had his tour cut short but a recurrence of a knee ailment, but while he was on the field he struggled to live up to his promise. After starting the tour with an innings of 257 and a 5-wicket haul against Queensland, the young allrounder could not find Test form in either discipline.
Deceptively talented; flattered to deceive - 3 out of 10.
Smith's only notable contributions of the series came in the field. As a substitute fielder in the second Test match, he caught exceptionally, and helped the West Indies fight back to a less embarrassing defeat. Smith was then drafted into the first XI for the final Test. He smashed a four and a six, then carelessly disposed of his wicket in typical fashion. A second innings duck, albeit to a poor decision, further justifies a low rating.
A lack of understanding of the value of spending time at the crease with an in-form Brian Lara, and a total lack of awareness of game-time situations - 2 out of 10.
Due to injury, Hinds waited all tour for his first involvement. He was injured on the first day of the first Tour match, and returned for the final Test when Gayle and Samuels were excluded for health reasons. A couple of sub-20 scores are all he takes away from the series, the second of which ended with a senseless charge down the wicket and a humiliating stumping.
Opportunities are few and far between - 2 out of 10.
Utter disappointment. There can be no more appropriate phrase to describe the series which the West Indies captain endured. His woeful batting was matched only by predictable, sometimes woeful, and most times ineffective captaincy. Why do you give a fast bowler one slip, a gully, and no third man?
Chanderpaul never had world-beating tools at his disposal, but that cannot mask the fact that he fell tragically short of the grade - 2 out of 10.
Just one Test match and an endless procession of questions as to the reasoning for Lawson's selection to the West Indies touring party.
A distinct lack of fitness and match practice, but he did show up at the ground - 1 out 10.
Though admittedly not a major series in typical considerations, the umpiring throughout was largely poor. Most notably, Brian Lara was adjudged out questionably on three occasions in his first four innings of the series. He was not alone, however, as the umpiring continued to hover about mediocrity up until the final Test, when Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Smith, and Denesh Ramdin were given out controversially, then Sarwan was denied two wickets later in the contest.
There is not much to suggest that the umpiring had any profound effect on the end result of the series, barring the potency of Lara, yet it left so much to be desired. In an era where umpires are under closer scrutiny than ever, the quality of decisions in the series tended to further state a pro-technology argument.
Bruised but not broken, and still reasons to smile.
Another series whitewash, and where to from here? Dwayne Bravo, 22, pointed the way when the selectors finally deemed him worthy. Denesh Ramdin, 20, never lost sight of the path. The occasional glance by Fidel Edwards, 23, and the direction is clear.
Rarely has a 3-0 defeat spawned such reason for excitement. If these are the cricketers who inherit the mantle of Calypso cricket, it is not too far-fetched to suggest that a revival will come sooner, rather than never.