The West Indies’ pace attacks of the 1970s, 80s and early 90s were fearsome. Batsmen trembled at the prospect of facing the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose.
But the gap between those golden eras and the present was clear to see on Wednesday during the opening day of the first Test against Australia in Perth.
West Indies coach Phil Simmons has defended his bowlers and believed luck didn’t go their way on a grassy Optus Stadium surface after an increasingly ragged attack claimed just two Australian wickets on the opening day of the first Test.
“We bowled well, especially in the first two sessions, but the luck didn’t go our way,” Simmons said. “It was just one of those days. We bowled well in spurts.”
Simmons also said West Indies could take heart from a disciplined effort in the earlier part of the day,
“The first two sessions were good because we didn’t let them get away,” said Simmons, who will depart as coach at the end of the tour after resigning following West Indies’ early exit at the T20 World Cup.
“I think the last session a few too many runs leaked…makes the day look bad but I think the first two sessions were good.”
Jason Holder was economical, Kemar Roach had his moments, and Jayden Seales snared the all-important scalp of David Warner to get the visitors off to a flyer.
But there was little venom, and the lack of extreme pace meant there was no aura.
On a green-tinged wicket that promised plenty for the bowlers, it was Marnus Labuschagne who set the tone with his eighth Test century.
Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith joined in with half-centuries.
It could be argued batting allrounder Kyle Mayers, who bowls in the mid 120s, was the pick of the bowlers. His delivery that caught the edge of Khawaja was a ripper. But too often the West Indies took the conservative route when attack was needed.
Captain Kraigg Brathwaite took out short leg and placed him on the boundary before even an hour had elapsed.
Offspinner Roston Chase, He also struggled later in the day to finish with 0-63 from 15 overs.
“We will discuss [Chase] in the morning,” Simmons said. “Maybe, the captain sees things out there. He runs the show and I think he’s been doing a very good job with his bowlers.”
The scary part is that the West Indies’ strength lies in their bowling.
With Australia well on track for a formidable first-innings total, the West Indies face an uphill battle to claw their way back into the match.
Simmons said West Indies’ batters could take heed of the performance from Labuschagne, who weathered an early storm to share century partnerships with Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith.
“I think that’s the way you have to bat, especially with the new ball swinging around,” he said. “As we saw in the last session, it belonged to Marnus because he had fought out the hard times before that.”
Before West Indies front up with the bat, they need to restrict Australia on a pitch Simmons tipped to quicken up. “We need to get a couple of wickets early tomorrow,” he said. “Realistically, looking at maybe 400…even 450 you’re still in [the game] because I think the wicket looks like it can get better.”