West Indies must find room in young side for a few old hands
22:05 GMT, 28 May 2012
West Indies have played much better cricket and pushed England much harder than India, who arrived here last year as the No 1 team in the world.
For all the talk about India’s batting superstars, West Indies have already managed to provide a much tougher test for the England attack.
Darren Sammy’s side are well drilled and have shown a lot of character, fight and discipline with so many star names missing and they did it again on Monday to make England wait for their win.
Plenty of character: Darren Sammy has a good team but needs some older heads
They are very professional but what they just need now is to be sprinkled with a bit of stardust because they can’t keep on collapsing to something like 40 for four and expect to win.
It’s all well having 11 committed young players but every team needs its older heads, and just as I wanted Mike Atherton and Alec Stewart in my England side, it could well be that West Indies need to bring back one or two of those on the outside.
Return Chris Gayle would be an asset if he buys into what the West Indies are doing
Their results were hardly better when Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan were in the side and there were times when they did not seem committed, but it is all about man-management and the way Sammy and coach Ottis Gibson handle them.
People always told me what Andy Caddick and Phil Tufnell couldn’t do when I became England captain but I was more concerned with what they could do. Sammy and Gibson need to think now about what the missing players could bring to their side.
If Gayle, or whoever, returns they will have to buy into what this West Indies side are doing but, again, that is a challenge for the captain and coach. And if they come back but won’t comply then it would be a case of thank you and goodbye.
Marlon Samuels is the classic example of what West Indies can achieve. He’s been around since 2000 and has always been talented but now the penny has dropped that he needs to make the most of that natural talent.
The penny has dropped: Marlon Samuels is an example of a player who has improved
I spoke to Marlon at the team hotel the other night and told him to keep going. He said, ‘I’ve been through too much and missed too much cricket not to keep going now.’
Yes, he’s a bit eccentric and kept on chatting to England players again yesterday but, apart from maybe Jimmy Anderson, I think England like him. We need characters in this game, not clones.
England, meanwhile, have been thoroughly professional again here at Trent Bridge from the captain all the way down. They are turning every home Test ground into something of a fortress and it will take a very good side to beat them in home conditions.