Frank Worrell Trophy was in progress at Dominica on a Thursday afternoon. The home team was dumped for 148 on the previous day after winning the toss in what was the first match of the post Chanderpaul era. Australia were reeling at 126 for 6 and Devendra Bishoo was weaving a web around the Australian batsmen. And did I forget to mention that he bowled the “Ball of the 21st century” to dismiss Brad Haddin exactly 22 years later after the ball of the previous century. Twenty overs later they were 178 for 8 with a lead of just 30 with debutant Adam Voges and two bowlers left to come. West Indies ended the day at 25 for two in their second innings, adrift by 145 runs. That would have hardly surprised anyone who had been following the West Indies team for the past decade and a half.
West Indies have been poor in finishing off the tail over the years of decline would be an understatement. They have been extremely pathetic in that over the years while their own tail enders have been mugs with the bat in the same time. Let us see what the stats tell.
Average partnerships against West Indies since 01 Jan 2000
Partnership runs conceded by each team for 8th – 10th wicket since 01 Jan 2000
From the above table we can see how poor West Indies have been in bowling to the tail enders. The average partnership against them for the 10th wicket is 15.51, the second worst after England. England have conceded four century partnerships including two world records – one between Denesh Ramdin and Tino Best at Edgbaston in 2012 and another between Phillip Hughes and Ashton Agar at Trent bridge in 2013. Excluding those four century partnerships, England’s average comes down drastically to 15.02.
The 97-run partnership between Voges and Hazlewood is the highest against West Indies during this period and in the context of this low scoring match one would have to admit that it was the turning point of the match. Three years ago at Bridgetown, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus and Nathan Lyon put together 132 runs between them including 77 for the last wicket. Australia reached home in that match late on the fifth day by 3 wickets – those 77 runs being a huge difference in the final outcome of the match. At Bridgetown in 2004 in a low scoring test match, Graham Thorpe and Steven Harmison forged together a 40 run partnership for the last wicket thereby paving England to a crucial two run lead in the first innings. That partnership changed the match on its head and West Indies were shut out for 94 in their second innings and England took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series – first time in over three decades.
West Indies concede 19.81 for the 9th wicket partnership, second only to India who concede 20.39 per partnership. At Khulna in 2012, Bangladesh were 177 with 8 wickets down when debutant Abul Hasan walked in at #10 and went to score a 123-ball 113. In the process he put together 184 with Mahmudullah – the third best 9th wicket partnership of all time and the best in this century. In the series against Australia in 2012, wicket keeper Mathew Wade and Mitchell Starc revived Australia in a 9th wicket stand of 102 which was an important as Australia ended winning the game by 75 runs.
West Indies are ahead of only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe for the average runs conceded for the 8th wicket partnership. They concede 26.09 per stand comfortably ahead of the next placed India among the top eight nations, who concede 23.92. The Zimbabwean duo of Heath Streak and Andy Blignaut put on 168 for the 8th wicket at Harare in 2003 in a test match which West Indies just managed to escape the ignominy of a defeat. At Gros Iset in 2004, Bangladesh managed not to lose a test match against a top eight nation for the first time in their history when they held a draw against a strong West Indies side including the likes of Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan. In that match, their last three partnerships managed 87, 33 and 46 runs respectively in the first innings and 56, 74 and an unbeaten 18 in the second. Mohammed Rafique scored 111 and Khaled Mashud 103* in the test batting at #9 and #8 in the first and second innings respectively. The four West Indies bowlers managed 12 runs among them in that test, one of the poorest tests in the history of cricket in Caribbean cricket.
Partnerships for wickets 8th – 10th – Scored and Conceded since 01 Jan 2000
The above table shows the partnership per stand for eight to tenth wicket scored and conceded by each team since 01 Jan, 2000. West Indies stand the worst in both regard. The last column has the difference in batting and bowling average for partnerships of the teams. The average run per partnership difference is the worst for West Indies with -6.25. The next worst among the top 8 teams is for Pakistan with -2.49. The teams of the times – Australia and South Africa – take the top spots with a positive difference of 6.26 and 3.89. New Zealand also has a positive difference thanks to their strong lower order batting.
West Indies have made the least number of century partnerships (2) and the least number of fifty partnerships (28) among the top 8 teams. They had three partnerships of fifty or more in tests which were won against teams other than Bangladesh. Two of these came from the Jamaican duo of Jimmy Adams and Franklyn Rose in the year 2000. The other one came last year by Denesh Ramdin and Jermaine Blackwood against New Zealand at Port of Spain. The gap of 14 years shows how poor their tail was adept in batting when the rest of the world were fast improving.
Batting performances by batsmen coming from #8 position – Scored and Conceded since 01 Jan 2000
The above table is another one which West Indies won’t be proud of topping. It shows the overall aggregate of batsmen from each team and against each team batting at #8 or lower. The last column has the difference in batting and bowling average of the teams. West Indies heads the list with -6.68 – they score at 11.96 per wicket and concede at 18.64 per wicket. The next worst in the list is Zimbabwe with -3.21, less than half of West Indies. West Indies conceded 11 hundreds to players batting at #8 or lower against them whereas no other team except New Zealand has conceded more than five.
Partnerships for wickets 8th – 10th – Scored and Conceded in each decade by West Indies
Batting performances by batsmen coming from #8 position – Scored and Conceded in each decade by West Indies
The West Indies tail of the 2000s were the worst in their history. In their pomp in the 1980s, their last three wickets averaged 18.02 per wicket and against them teams scored at 17 per wicket. The net difference was a positive 1.02. The only other decade they has a positive net difference was in the 1940s. The negative difference of 7.17 in 2000s is their worst in their ten decade old history.
West Indian batsmen from #8 and below averaged 16.8 in 1980s and it reached a rock bottom of 10.83 in the 2000s. Their opposition batsmen batting #8 or lower scored at just 13.82 in 1980s and 13.02 in 1990s thanks to the likes of Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop. Though their batting dipped they were still fearsome when it came down to knocking off the tail. Their batting average of 10.83 in the 2000s is the lowest and the difference between batting and bowling average of -7.92 was another lowest during the times. It has come down to -3.50 in 2010s thanks to all-rounders like Darren Sammy and Jason Holder.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul was one batsmen in the West Indies team who shepherded the tail and with him gone now they have a tough task ahead to find a like-to-like replacement for him. Young Jermaine Blackwood has been very impressive so far in his short career but temperament is something he needs to work on as it crucial while batting with the tail. He bats at #6 which is often the link between the top order and the tail. Jason Holder has said in a recent interview that he wants West Indies to be a top test side by 2020 and one of the areas where they needs to work seriously is their bowling to the tail enders. If not the Lyons and Hazlewoods would still continue to frustrate them and their loyal fans as it has been for the past decade and a half.
Image courtesy: http://www.abc.net.au/