Head Coach Phil Simmons has defended West Indies’ preparation for the opening Test following their crushing innings defeat inside 2 ½ days in St Lucia on Saturday, but said they now needed to raise their intensity and rebound strongly in the second Test beginning this week.
The home side produced two lacklustre batting efforts, rolled over for 97 in their first innings and then for 162 in their second, to slide to a heavy loss late in an extended first session on yesterday’s third day at the Daren Sammy National Stadium.
While West Indies spent a month prior to the opening Test in a high-performance camp, Simmons said they had been undermined by poor batting.
“Bad judgement, bad shot selection — however you want to put it. You can’t be out for 97 [in the first innings] and there’s any other question [about the result]. It’s just about bad selection in the first innings especially,” Simmons lamented afterwards.
“The fact is we need to bat well in the first innings. We need to bat a hundred overs and we need to find a way to do that against this team.
“I think if we bat a hundred overs against this team, we’re putting ourselves in a good position to put them under pressure.”
He added: “All the guys here, from one to nine at least, have Test fifties against proper bowling attacks. Yes, they (South Africa) are potent but the guys have made runs against all different kinds of bowling attacks.
“I think that the way we got out was not something we would be proud of and we have to come back and show what we’re really made of in the second Test.”
West Indies lost a grip on the contest once they were dismissed cheaply after opting to bat and then conceding a massive lead of 225, as South Africa gathered 322 behind Quinton de Kock’s superb unbeaten 141.
They finished day two on 82 for four but lost wickets steadily in the first session yesterday to collapse, despite Roston Chase’s defiant 62.
With the second Test starting Friday, Simmons said it was important that the side again prepared themselves mentally in order to get a positive result.
“I think in each person themselves, they have to get themselves fired up,” a composed Simmons explained.
“We have to put them back through the paces that we did leading up to the Test match and prepare in as diligent a way as we did prepare going into this one and maybe add a little bit more.
“Over the next couple days, we’ll sit and have a look back at the Test match itself. I personally think that the preparation and training we did before was quite intense, but we’ll see if we missed anything and try to put that in.
“But that’s all you can do because you as a Test cricketer have to fix your mindset and make sure your mindset is ready for it, and we’ve done that a lot of times leading up to this and in the past.”
For West Indies, the defeat was their first in five matches this year after thumping Bangladesh 2-0 away and drawing nil-all at home with Sri Lanka in another two-match series.
That form propelled them up to sixth in the ICC Test rankings, one notch above the Proteas, but Simmons said the heavy defeat was now cause for deep introspection.
“It will definitely be [a reality check] for me. I don’t take things for granted,” he stressed.
“I think we played well in four Test matches but again, that’s only the start of how we have to get up the table and how much we have to play, so this has shown us that there is a lot of work still to be done which we kept reiterating to the players all last week.
“There’s a lot of work still to be done so we have to keep working.”