Bridgetown: West Indies' captain Darren Sammy said the three-wicket loss to Australia in the opening Test here will not damage his side's growing self-confidence and has urged his troops not to despair despite the hugely disappointing result.
Resuming the day on 71 for 5, West Indies were dismissed for 148, leaving Australia 192 to chase for victory at the Kensington Oval here on Wednesday. Shane Watson stroked 52, Ed Cowan got 34 and Mike Hussey made 32 to steer Australia to victory in fading light with 14 overs remaining.
"I told the guys at the end of the Test match to keep their heads up. We did a lot of good things. I remember the pre-match interview. Both [the] captains [had] said one bad hour could turn around the game and that's exactly what happened in this Test match. We dominated Australia for three-and-a-half days and even today [Wednesday] when we bowled, we made them fight for that 190."
The West Indies were in control for most of the match, after winning the toss and batting first and tallying an impressive 449 for 9 declared. They reduced Australia on the third morning to 285 for 8 before Ryan Harris, who hit an unbeaten 68, led a late revival to see Australia to 406 for 9 declared after lunch.
In a wretched 25 minutes before tea, West Indies lost three wickets for four runs and the innings never recovered from the shock. "We didn't expect them to declare for sure but looking at it, we had a three-hour session in the morning and I don't think our guys have ever spent three hours on a cricket field in one go," Sammy pointed out.
"There are no excuses for the way we went out in the second innings. It happened to us a few times last year where we bat really well in one innings and we don't in the next, and it's something we have to be more conscious of. Test cricket, especially, is two innings of batting and we have to formulate a way to bat well in both [the] innings," Sammy said.
Sammy said he believed the West Indies, who were dismissed for a paltry 148 in their second innings, needed to be mentally stronger when approaching [the] second innings. "I think it's just being mentally focussed after being out in the field for a long time to respect the start of your innings," he contended.
"They came in the second innings and bowled straighter at us; then we played a few loose strokes as well. It's just about conditioning your mind to bat for your team the second time around and just repeating the job you did in the first innings."
Now 0-1 down in the three-match series, the teams will head to Trinidad and Tobago for the second Test starting Sunday at the Queen's Park Oval. Sammy said, however, that the loss would not diminish his side's self-belief. "Like we've shown throughout the one-day and Twenty20 series, we believe now we can not only compete but we can win games against good opposition," he asserted.
"Even yesterday [Tuesday], when we were [71 for 5], we believed that had we gotten to 220, we would have declared as well and given them a target. We believed we could have won."