Need to pace innings better – Law


Stuart Law was keen not get involved in the absence of Ben Stokes and Alex Hales from England’s side for the fourth ODI at The Oval. What Law cared more about was West Indies’ batsmen understanding the simple art of pacing the innings, of playing at the correct “tempo”.

What Law wants his batsmen to do is set the right pace in the middle-overs segment, overs 16-40 – a phase where West Indies tended to become stagnant. Numbers expose this weakness: since the 2015 World Cup, West Indies’ average run rate in the middle overs has been 4.98, which is the lowest among all top-eight ranked teams. It has not improved in 2017: a run rate of 4.64 is again the lowest in the middle-overs phase.

Pacing an innings has acquired a new meaning, with the best ODI teams scoring at about six runs an over in the middle period, with at least one top-order batsman playing deep into the innings. Virat Kohli, David Warner, Steven Smith, Kane Williamson and Hashim Amla have consistently set the tempo for their respective middle and lower-middle orders to capitalise upon in the death overs.

Stuart Law: “We are caught between Test cricket and T20 cricket.”

Unfortunately for the West Indies, no top-order batsman has shown the patience and the capability to bat longer. West Indies batsmen have scored just five centuries since the 2015 World Cup in 34 matches, which again is the least among the major teams.

Law does not need the numbers to tell him what is wrong and wants West Indies to recalibrate so they can dominate during the World Cup Qualifiers next March. “We are not quite playing at the tempo that suits one-day cricket,” Law said.

“We are caught between Test cricket and T20 cricket. Of course we are very good at T20 cricket. We are ever-improving in the Test match arena. This is the arena we need to make sure that we start grabbing hold of and we start understanding, particularly with what we have got coming up early next year [at the World Cup Qualifiers in March].”

As an example he cited the Bristol ODI on Sunday, where Chris Gayle powered the West Indies to a robust beginning before the innings floundered equally swiftly, England winning the match with 10.5 overs to spare.

“We are either going too hard too early, and not spacing it out over longer period of time,” Law said. “It was pretty evident the other night – we got bowled out with 11 overs to go and we were still up with the rate. Our tempo was pretty good in certain aspects, but we need to improve. We need to make sure that we have two set batsmen going in the last 10-15 overs. If we have got that we can be even more destructive.”

If there is one thing West Indies batsmen have excelled at, it is at hitting sixes. They have hit 150 sixes since the last World Cup, which is about a six every 54 balls. Only England and New Zealand have better frequency at clearing the boundary. “We just need a little bit more from the rest of our top order and bit smarter batting through that middle period. We have got the power to hit the sixes. We have got the power to drive it home in the last 10-15 overs.” 

Throughout this series Law’s message to the squad – both Test and limited-overs – has been to stand up and fight. Get better. Keep repeating the good things. Those are not just empty clichés. Law clearly wants West Indies to be start getting consistent at doing the simple things right in order to become consistent at winning. (ESPNCricinfo)

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