Assistant coach Stuart Williams said the third day of the second Test against New Zealand will be very crucial for West Indies.
Kirk Edwards scored his second straight half-century of the series and Marlon Samuels his first in six innings, but another top-order batting slump left the Windies under a cloud after the rain-marred second day at the Basin Reserve here.
Edwards, once more opening the batting, hit 55 and Samuels was unbeaten on an even 50, as the visitors, replying to the New Zealanders’ first innings total of 441, reached 158 for four at the close on Thursday, a day when 28 overs were lost due to the weather.
“What we did in Dunedin gives us confidence that we can turn this game around,” said Williams. “Remember, we had a short period to prepare for the series, after coming from India, so we are still trying to get acclimatise a bit.
“Playing New Zealand in New Zealand was always going to be tough. They have the bowling attack to suit the pitch conditions, so we knew they were always going to be a challenge. As the tour progresses however, I think we will get better. We still have another Test to play, we are in the middle of this one and there are One-day and Twenty20 Internationals to come.”
On the performance of young batsmen like Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo in the series, Williams said: “Kirk has been around in the game for a while, but he was out of line-up. He lost his place during the tour of England last year, but it is nice to see that he has worked his way back into the team and scored two half-centuries – batting at an unusual position.
“I think our young brigade of batsmen – Kirk, Darren Bravo and Kieran Powell – is looking good. Hopefully, they will keep supporting and batting around the senior guys like Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Marlon. They are coming through nicely. They are a work-in-progress. They may not set the World on fire in one or two games, but they are the guys for the future.”
Williams, a former West Indies opener, said: “We started slowly, but we picked up towards the end of the day. We lost a couple of wickets more than we wanted. The runs we have on the board, we would take that for two wickets down, but such is cricket and we will have to live with it.
“We didn’t bowl well at all. We were not consistent enough, especially with the new ball, and it has cost us by putting us in the position in which we find ourselves. Hopefully, we can pull things back.”
Inconsistent bowling and sloppy fielding undermined the Windies during the New Zealand first innings over the first two days.
The bowlers failed to make effective use of a green-top pitch and they dropped century-maker Ross Taylor before he had scored, allowing him to set the stage for a strong first innings for the Black Caps.
Williams said his side should not begin to panic. He felt the remaining batsmen had a job to do, taking things session by session and giving the side the best chance of being competitive for the rest of the match.
“It’s always frustrating when you drop catches,” he said. “The good thing is between this game and the previous Test is that we have created a number of chances – but our fielding this time has not been up to international standard.
“This is a work-in-progress and you will have these kind of days at times playing international cricket. . .It is frustrating, but you still have to create a good environment. We can’t press the panic button. There are still three days to go. We are still in it. We still have an opportunity, so it’s about creating a good environment and saying positive things to reinforce this.”
Williams was a member of the last West Indies side to win a Test – and a series – in New Zealand almost two decades ago at the Basin Reserve under Courtney Walsh.
He identified fast bowler Shannon Gabriel for the preparatory work he put in ahead of the Test to turn his performance around from the first Test as a positive sign that the young players were willing to work hard and learn.
“Shannon has a very good work ethic,” he said. “He did some work with head coach Ottis Gibson over the last few days and is very eager to learn. His grouping of deliveries for this game was good, maybe just a touch short, but it was good.
“He was consistent. He was also unlucky, but this is cricket, and you never know, one of these days he will bowl worse and get five wickets, but I think he bowled well in this game and this is a good sign.”
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