Jason Holder lay the blame for West Indies’ series loss largely at the feet of his batsmen, and marked out the top order’s Test-match temperament as an area much in need of improvement. West Indies’ highest score of the series was 251, and they fell well short of 200 in both innings at the P Sara Oval.
The visitors did make regular breakthroughs in the second Test, restricting Sri Lanka to 200 and 206, and conceding only one opposition half-century. But they only produced one half-century themselves in this match, and only three in the whole series.
“It’s clear that the batting let us down,” Holder said. “I think we need to work on our temperament. At times we need to be a lot more patient and know which phases of the game to hang in and in which phases of the game we can attack. Sometimes we may look a little rash and sometimes we may look a little defensive. We just need to curb aggression with some defence.”
Holder did not believe technical flaws against spin were prevalent in his side, however. Of the 40 West Indies wickets that fell in the series, 27 went to Sri Lanka’s spinners, with Rangana Herath claiming 15 scalps.
“I wouldn’t say we have a difficulty playing spin,” Holder said. “The nature of our wickets at home is not too far apart from here in Sri Lanka. It’s just a case of not being patient enough and trusting our defence.
“If you look at the top orders, Sri Lanka’s top order batted well and our top order didn’t. We were always struggling for an opening partnership and never really got it. And in our middle partnerships we struggled again, whereas Sri Lanka got some runs in the middle. Going forward we need to look at our top order and hopefully they can put the onus upon themselves to score the bulk of the runs for the team.”
Darren Bravo‘s second-wicket stand with Shai Hope in the final innings of the series was also West Indies’ only 50-plus partnership across the two Tests. They made 60 together, raising hopes West Indies could chase 244, but the remainder of the batting order entered a familiar collapse after that partnership was broken. Marlon Samuels concluded a particularly woeful tour, in which his action was also reported, by collecting 13 and 6 in this match, to go with his 11 and 0 in Galle. West Indies lost their last nine wickets for 91 runs.
“At 80 for 1 we were pretty much in control, but we lost wickets. Shai’s stumping at that time – that was a turning moment in the game,” Holder said. “He and Bravo had a good partnership going and when it was broken, we never really recovered from there. Marlon came in under a bit of pressure and couldn’t take us out of the situation. We didn’t rebuild when we had to rebuild. Sri Lanka got on top of us with some very good bowling. They worked with their strengths and put some pressure on us, and we gave in to that pressure at that stage.”
Holder was full of praise for his attack, however. Jerome Taylor was particularly impressive on a dry deck, claiming two wickets in each innings and posing difficult questions of the Sri Lanka top order.
“Our bowlers have come up trumps for us, and did a very, very good job in the series,” Holder said. “We got 10 wickets in the first Test match in Galle where we only got one chance to bowl. And we got 20 wickets here, which is what we asked of the bowlers. It’s not easy conditions to play for fast bowlers, but every time I called on a fast bowler, he came up and he gave a good effort. In this Test match Jerome led us again. He came in with a little bit of a niggle, but he showed his maturity. He’s well-supported by myself and Kemar Roach. And then the spinners came into play and did a job.”
Kraigg Brathwaite – the part-time offspinner – took an unexpected six wickets in the second innings at the P Sara, while debutant Jomel Warrican impressed with figures of 6 for 129 from the match. Warrican had been picked on an excellent record in first-class cricket, in which he had taken 66 wickets at 16.44 heading into the Test.
“Jomel’s first-class stats speak for themselves,” Holder said. “He’s a guy who I’ve played cricket with my entire life, from youth cricket straight to now. He’s always been a wicket-taker – a guy who can come and do a job for you. He can also hold down an end (and) in the second innings (showed) that he can bat. He was a bit of a livewire in the field. I think it was a good start for him. It’s important he builds on it and doesn’t fall back.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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