ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday June 01, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 53

Windies dare to dream of Test revival

A more motivated West Indies team pushed Australia for four days in the first Test.

The excitement is spreading. At the Culture Yard in Trench Town, a tough section of Kingston that was once home to Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, the mere sight of an Australian is cause enough to strike up a conversation about the West Indies and their gallant loss to Australia at Sabina Park.

"They were doing well, we thought they might get the win," said Bent, whose horticultural endeavours at the Culture Yard tell you all you need to know about the origins of his name. "But it looks like things are getting better."

Windies team at a discussion during practice sessios

Bent is not alone. Cabbies, shopkeepers and local media types have all been keen to talk Windies' cricket in recent days, sharing in the febrile atmosphere caused by the team's apparent revival. Perhaps more than recent wins over South Africa and Sri Lanka, the West Indies' 95-run loss to Australia — in which they pushed the world champion to the wire for the first four days — has prompted optimism in the region. For the first time in years, cricket is cool again.

Another to have taken notice is Australian coach Tim Nielsen. Having witnessed periods of redoubtable batting, lengthy spells of quality pace bowling and two whole innings of committed fielding from his opponents during the Kingston Test. Nielsen believes the West Indies are capable of surging up the Test rankings.

"They could definitely be up in the middle rungs and fighting for a top-three or four spot with the quality of player and the natural talent they've got in their team," Nielsen said.

"We kept saying the whole way through the game that our challenge was not to have fits and spurts, but to do it as well as we possibly can for five days. I think that was the difference in the end. Test cricket is definitely about talent … but in the end it is the ability to execute your skills and reproduce them over and over again."

The West Indies are currently placed above only Bangladesh on the Test rankings, and have won just five of their past 46 Tests. But in the past six months, signs of a Caribbean revival have been evident.

The stunning away victory against South Africa captured the attention of the cricketing world, as did the subsequent home win over Sri Lanka. And with this week's solid outing against the world champion — minus their captain, Chris Gayle, and pace spearhead Jerome Taylor — the region is daring to dream that the disappointments of the past decade may be nearing an end.
"They're probably getting to a stage where they've all played 20 or 30 Tests and they might start to believe that they actually belong at this level," Nielsen said.

"That's a massive thing. Your first five or 10 Tests you're running around hoping you do well for yourself and your family. You're not thinking about much more than that. "But I think once you get to that 20-30 Test mark you start to understand what makes yourself tick and how you can actually go about impacting on the game on a more consistent level.

"If they can have some consistent support for Chanderpaul with the bat … and really back up what Powell and Edwards, do they're really going to be a force to be reckoned with. Their challenge is to keep producing that."- The Australian Age

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