Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, has revealed that some harsh words were spoken in the dressing room after his team’s innings-and-73-run drubbing in Wellington and called on his players to “man up” as they aim to level the Test series next week.
Phrases such as “embarrassed” and “lack of fight” were at the forefront of some home truths after the Test had finished shortly after tea on the third day, with 16 wickets falling on Friday. West Indies had a behind-closeddoors training session back at Basin Reserve yesterday, which included middle practice between the squad, as Gibson tried to repair some confidence before travelling to Hamilton tomorrow. “‘Embarrassed’ was mentioned. ‘Lack of fight’ was mentioned. Those are things you don’t want to be hearing too often in your dressing room,” Gibson said. “We haven’t heard those things too often in our dressing room recently. We have played some pretty good cricket. India was tough for us, but we are making it tough for ourselves here.
“New Zealand are playing very well but we’re not standing up to what they’re offering. That’s the disappointing thing. When you play away from home you expect it to be tough and we just have to man up and face up to the challenge that New Zealand present to us.”
Normally coaches and captains try to “take the positives” even in defeat, but there was little that Gibson could cling to. The die was cast early when they shelled Ross Taylor at slip before he had scored. He went onto make 129 in New Zealand’s 441, a dominant total on a wellgrassed surface that Darren Sammy had been able to give his bowlers first use of. “Sometimes when things are going wrong, everything goes wrong at the same time,” Gibson said. “When things are going well, everything goes well together. We’ve always been a nation of fighters, our backs are against the wall here and we just have to ride it out.”
Gibson accepted that his pace bowlers—Tino Best and Shannon Gabriel—had let their chance slip away on the opening day after taking out the New Zealand openers cheaply—albeit noting the impact of the Taylor drop— but he was not ready to lose faith in the ones at his disposal on this trip. In truth, though, he can’t do much else. His options are limited with Sheldon Cottrell, the left-armer, the only other frontline quick in the squad. West Indies were keen to play Sunil Narine in Wellington but the pitch was so green as to halt that move, and although Sammy had indicated it may be the only route left for West Indies, Gibson was more reticent to throw his lot in with a spin approach for Hamilton.
“Any time you see a wicket with grass on like we have here, especially this one where the ball swung as well, of course you expect better from your attack when you win the toss and put the opposition in. You don’t expect them to make 441,” Gibson said. “What it’s teaching us is a certain set of skills we have to acquire, which we haven’t nailed down yet. In the Caribbean the ball swings for two overs then you have to make it move off the surface. In New Zealand it swings for much longer. It’s evident from what you see on the TV that we aren’t getting it to swing.
“Looking at New Zealand, if I was in their camp, it would probably be another green seamer which nullifies the two spin option. The pitches haven’t spun, New Zealand’s spinner [Ish Sodhi] bowled three overs in the match here. They’ve got three seamers who are swinging it and causing us problems so I don’t see why they’d change the format. Two spinners is a consideration, but we’ll have to look at what is the best format to win the Test.”