West Indies shed their intensity too quickly as seen against Australia in 2nd Test, Day 1
West Indies must be consistent in order to improve their fortunes in Test cricket © Getty Images

The West Indians often have moments of brilliance in Test matches. Unfortunately, they have repeatedly failed to stretch those moments into match-winning consistency. Rishad D’Souza believes West Indies could potentially be a lot stronger side if they learn to sustain intensity over longer periods.

After first day’s play of the second Test match between West Indies and Australia, it is quite evident that the visitors are on top. However, a glance at the fall of wickets and it reveals that earlier in the day, it West Indies were all over Australia. At 16 for two, Australia were under some severe heat at Kingston, Jamaica. Australia dominate West Indies with 260/4 at stumps on Day 1 of second Test at Sabina Park

The misery could have been piled on when Jerome Taylor caught Michael Clarke off his own bowling — his third victim. Only, it wasn’t because to his dread, Taylor heard the umpire say the two words every bowler despises, “no ball.” Australia could have been reduced to 22 for three, but the opportunity was lost.

As much as they rued it, West Indies had to move on. The game moved on, but the hosts seemed stuck in that moment of misfortune. A few more probing deliveries and they might have recreated another opportunity to dismiss a shaky Clarke. However, it felt like the intensity had dropped. They let Clarke and Steven Smith settle down into a good partnership.

From there, Clarke went on to score another forty-odd runs, which was adequate for Australia to get back on track. In fact, Clarke’s dismissal itself wasn’t as much the bowler’s effort, but a brief lapse in concentration of the batsman himself as the Australian skipper went wildly chasing after a ball wide outside off.

After that, throughout the day, West Indies managed only a single wicket though they should have had at least another. Adam Voges was that other wicket to fall. The wicket that should have fallen, yet never did because of a West Indies goof-up was that of Smith, while on 109.

To his credit, Smith batted beautifully for most part and his innings was chanceless until he got to 109. He then edged one of part-timer Kraigg Brathwaite to Darren Bravo at first slip only for Bravo to spill it and leave the bowler agonised. Replays of the catch showed Bravo moved late. Perhaps he was not expecting a catch; perhaps West Indies were not expecting a wicket; perhaps they were not even really working towards it!

As the 80th over approached, there was fresh hope that West Indies would finally claw their way back late in day by picking a couple of wickets with the second new ball. No wicket fell and the second new ball failed to do the trick. Oh wait! The second new ball wasn’t even taken.

In other Test sides, the fast bowlers are simply waiting to pounce on the second new ball, unless the old ball is providing reverse swing or the spin bowlers are making merry with the old ball. It was nothing of that sort on Day One. The decision to refuse the second new ball can be attributed only to an uninspired team spirit.

Test cricket is not an easy sport. It demands hours of persistence, aggression and toil and the players must back themselves for the challenge. However, in West Indies that desire to put in the efforts over prolonged periods seems missing and unless they make improvements in that area, winning Test on a consistent basis won’t happen.

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)