When the Jason Holder-led West Indians took on Australia in Nottingham yesterday, the five-times World Cup winners emerged victorious by a margin of 15 runs. Recovering from 58 for 4 and then 79 for 5, Aaron Finch’s Aussies went on to post a challenging 288.
In reply, the West Indies got to 217 for 5 with just about 10 overs left. They then fell away to be 273 for 9 at the end.
Steve Smith, in at #3, was the mainstay of the Aussie innings, scoring 73 off 103 balls before being seventh man out at 249. When he reached his half-century, Harsha Bogle described it as “a hard-fought, hardworking 50.” He was eventually sent back by a sensational catch by Sheldon Cottrell.
Running at full tilt on the boundary’s edge at backward square-leg, the Jamaican stuck out a left hand, plucked the ball out of the air, tossed it back into the playing area as he stepped temporarily out of it and then came back in to pouch the ball again.
Smith’s disbelief was totally understandable.
Smith had earlier got a life when Cottrell inopportunely lost his footing as he sprinted in from the same boundary at full tilt attempting to catch a skier.
On 61, Man-of-the-Match Nathan Coulter-Nile (92 off 60), also benefited from a life, Shimron Hetmyer failing to hold on at deep midwicket. The number eight had scarcely played a convincing shot before he got to 50 but he was able to add 31 off another 16 balls before being finally dismissed.
Asked by Michael Slater in the post-match interview why his team had lost, Holder said his “batters need to take the responsibility. (…) We have to be more consistent.”
Pressed to identify the key moment when the game slipped away from his team, he responded that Aussie top-scorer Coulter-Nile had been “dropped (…) when he was 60-odd.”
The armchair pundits on social media had a different view. They concluded that the game was up long before the West Indies were dismissed, indeed, long before Australia even got to 150.
Having employed his pacemen to great effect in Friday’s 7–wicket win over Pakistan, Holder opted to walk the same route today. And once more the quicks delivered.
Thanks to the opening attack of Oshane Thomas (2/63) and Sheldon Cottrell (2/56), Aussie skipper Aaron Finch (6), the dangerous David Warner (3) and Usman Khawaja (13) were back in the hutch before you could say Jack Warner. And before you could say ANR Robinson, Glen Maxwell (0) had joined them and the Aussies were on the skids at 38 for 4.
Enter Carlos Brathwaite.
Need to see that again? Enter Carlos Brathwaite.
With his foot on Australia’s neck and Cottrell and Thomas baying for blood, Holder called off the dogs and, in over #7, gave the ball to Andre Russell, which is understandable, and to Carlos Brathwaite in over #10, which utterly defies explanation.
Here, offered without comment, is an extract from a Facebook comment, made before the Aussie score was 100:
“…any reasonable captain would have at least kept on either of the two men who were pressurising the Australians.”
Smith batted, as he so often does, for his side and for his country as if for his life. But Marcus Stoinis, coming in at 38 for 4, offered a nondescript defensive push at the first delivery he received from Russell and the ball missed his stumps by a kn.
But against Brathwaite and Holder—Russell had to leave the field after a mere three overs—Stoinis survived until the 17th over when he tried to pull Holder and Nicholas Pooran at midwicket swallowed the catch.
From 79 for 5 to 147 for 6, Alex Carey (45 off 55) contrived somehow to keep his wicket intact until Russell accounted for him in the 31st over. Then came the Smith/Coulter-Nile 102-run stand, which allowed the lower order to add a further 39 runs off the last six overs.
When the West Indies batted Evin Lewis (1 off 5) perished early. Chris Gayle was given out three times by New Zealand Umpire Chris Gaffaney. Twice he was reprieved, the third time, Australia got the benefit of an umpire’s call.
Replays showed that the ball before the one that accounted for Gayle was a clear no-ball so that Gayle’s ‘dismissal,’ LBW Mitchell Starc (10-1-46-5), should have been off a free hit and therefore not cost him his wicket.
Sri Lanka’s Ruchira Palliyaguruge, Gaffaney’s partner in crime at the other end, was twice corrected by the review mechanism, leading Michael Holding to condemn the umpiring as ‘atrocious’. He wisely refrained from commenting on the umpires.
Shai Hope (68 off 105) put on 68 for the third wicket with Nicholas Pooran (40 off 36) and exactly 50 for the fourth with Hetmyer (21 off 28) before the latter was unnecessarily run out. Hope then surrendered his hand tamely, spooning a catch to midwicket, leaving Holder to try to get the remaining 99 runs from 15 overs with the rest of the batting. That included the hard-hitting Russell (15 off 11) and 2016 T20 hero Brathwaite, who once more had little to contribute.
With 68 balls left to get 73 runs, the Jamaican all-rounder gave his hand away and made Australia’s task easier. Trying to force the issue, Holder (51 off 57) lost his wicket with 25 balls left to get 37.
And the West Indies lost their way.
Holder’s men may not see this defeat as a setback; realistically, a victory against Australia, India or England is a bonus. The resolve must be to ensure that no losses come in the matches against the seven teams which are not in the top three.
The planning and the practising must continue apace over this weekend since assignment number three comes up on Monday when WI take on the struggling South Africans.
One social media comment suggested that a piece of paper with bowling formulae would have been as good a WI captain as today’s. Another advised that the way forward for the Holder-led West Indies is to ensure that they are not henceforth Holder-misled.
A little harsh perhaps? But if South Africa recover from anything like 37 for 4 on Monday and the skipper blames his batsmen or his fieldsmen, a multitude of that kind of comment may migrate to the mainstream media.