Umpiring blunders take the Test into final day

THIS has so far been a nightmarish Test match for the field umpires — Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth — both from England, who between them have eight of their decision reversed by TV umpire Paul Reiffel.

Like the players, the umpires too also appear to have good and bad days but on form this has been quite a terrible performance of decision-making by the two. Gough has so far blundered five times and Illingworth on four occasions.

Thanks to the Decision Review System (DRS) that this second Test has managed to enter the final day. If not for that, the way decisions were being made, the ongoing Test would have ended perhaps on the third evening.

Players of either side no doubt had their nerves tested but did benefit from the review system.

Pakistan, unlike their second innings disaster in the first Test at Dubai, showed a lot more application to be able to consolidate their lead with Asad Shafiq contributing yet another half century (58 not out) alongside Younis Khan to allow Misbah-ul-Haq a declaration at lunch as Pakistan led by 455.

It was not really an ideal situation for the West Indies team to aim at the target. Their survival much depended on their ability to defend and last the last five sessions of the match rather than going on the attack to go for it.

Not many teams in history have succeeded in such situations. Only West Indies in 2003 did that against Australia in Antigua chasing 418 runs to win. But those were the days when the Caribbeans were a force to be reckoned with.

The only occasion anything near to it I watched was at The Oval in 1979 when India chasing 438 to win against England fell short of only eight runs as the great Sunil Gavaskar scored 221.

Their gradual decline of West Indies over the years and their inter-island politics and rivalry has not left them in a good health recently.

The myth that the West Indian youth of the modern times is lot more interested in American basketball is not really the full truth which many believe is the cause for them plummeting down to a lowly ranked spot.

Only recently I asked Andy Roberts, the great fast bowler from Antigua who was in Karachi briefly, whether there was any truth in what is said about the basketball and baseball thing and interest lost in cricket by the youth of the islands.

‘No truth at all in what is being said’, Robert told me. ‘The fact of the matter is that present day youngsters in the West Indies do not work hard as we did when we ruled the roost under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.

‘We were dedicated and had lot of pride in what we did to be at the top. Now things have changed and I do not see the boys working hard to reach excellence.’ Roberts told me.

In the present team, Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo do look the part and to a certain extent Roston Chase. The bowling even lacks that shock effect as we witnessed watching the likes of Roberts, Michael Holding. Joel Garner, Colin Croft and the indomitable Malcolm Marshall.

Going through the motion in a leisurely pace does not really help. The present lot from the Calypso seem resigned to their status in the ranking and with their lack-lustre approach to game remain an unattractive team to follow.

Today the final day could see them going 2-0 down in this three match series. Already 285 runs behind and three session to survive could be a tough ask once Misbah’s bowlers have a quick breakthrough.

Kraigg Brathwaite with 67 already is holding on the fort, but for how long?