'Celebrate the win'


'Celebrate the win'

Sir Clive urges Windies to use triumph to instill belief for rest of series

Monday, July 13, 2020

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WHEN West Indies opener John Campbell and Captain Jason Holder scampered through for a single against hosts England in late afternoon yesterday, it sent many cricket followers rushing to the statisticians.

That run gave the visitors a four-wicket win, their first in an opening Test away to higher-ranked opposition since beating South Africa by 128 runs in Port Elizabeth in 2007.

West Indies are holders of the Wisden Trophy after defeating England in the Caribbean 2-1 last year. But entering the three-Test series as the world's eighth-ranked team, pundits gave them little chance against the number four-rated Englishmen.

Outside of yesterday's triumph at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton and their success at Headingley in 2017, West Indies have not won a Test match in England since 2000.

Considering they have not claimed a Test series victory in England in 32 years there remains plenty to play for in the remaining behind-closed-doors matches, scheduled for Old Trafford in Manchester on July 16 and 24.

Iconic former West Indies skipper Sir Clive Lloyd told the Jamaica Observer that the accomplishment should be celebrated and used to instill belief for the rest of the tour.

“This [the West Indies effort] is what Test cricket is all about and I must give them all the praise. [Ahead of the Test match] I wrote about them, saying this is a new era of our cricket, and it has come to pass.

“I want them to celebrate [the win], I want them to realise what they have achieved. Not many teams that have come to England in the last two or three years [have] beaten them. We have played extremely well,” Lloyd, who won 36 of 74 Tests as captain, said via a telephone interview yesterday.

The achievement in Southampton brings Holder level with Sir Richie Richardson on 11 Test wins as skipper, only behind greats Sir Vivian Richards (27) and Lloyd. As captain, Holder has won four of six Tests against England.

“It's the dawn of a new era and they'll realise the importance of what they've done. This will give us the type of lift that we need, and congratulations to the captain, the players and all the back room staff. This is a terrific win — excellent for West Indies cricket, for the players, and all the supporters,” the 75-year-old reiterated.

West Indies, who lost the toss and were asked to bowl first, dismissed England for 204 with Holder grabbing a career-best 6-42, and the irrepressible Shannon Gabriel (4-62) giving splendid support.

They replied with 318 as Kraigg Brathwaite (65), Shane Dowrich (61) and Roston Chase (47) provided the main resistance. Seamer Ben Stokes, the England stand-in captain, captured 4-49.

And though the hosts fared better in their second innings, scoring 313 runs on the back of half-centuries from Zak Crawley (76) and Dominic Sibley (50), the West Indies bowling attack, led by Man of the Match Gabriel (5-75), ensured the target was gettable.

Batsman Jermaine Blackwood — in the past maligned for injudicious stroke play which resurfaced in his first-innings failure — survived two early dropped chances to hit a defiant, match-winning 95 in the team's 200-6.

Lloyd, who has lived in England for decades, said he has been in communication with the West Indies camp since the team arrived there last month.

He noted that the visitors' 114-run, first-innings lead proved pivotal.

“When the guys bowled England out for 200 — and it could have been less — the batters had to come good, and I think that's where our cricket needs to go. I told them we have to get [at least] 300 runs every time we bat, if it's possible, because if you get 300 runs you're in the game. Very few people get 400.

“By playing together for those few weeks, it was like a camp; they had time to talk and discuss different things and how they wanted to approach this game. They buckled down in the second innings and they played very well,” the former giant left-hand batsman, who averaged 46.67 over 110 Tests, told the Observer.

Lloyd is confident that once they continue to take their catches, bat judiciously and bowl with consistency, they can keep England on the back foot and retain the coveted trophy.

“We are the holders of the Wisden Trophy. We want to keep it, and if we continue to play in this manner…we should be in the ascendancy in the next couple of weeks. I'm sure they realise now that they can compete with England and it's now for England to ring changes, and not us,” he beamed.

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