Test cricket is famously hard. Some can’t quite comprehend what that means, thinking a reverse-swinging 90mph yorker is the same no matter what the format. It’s not all about the details though. Sometimes it’s the sheer relentlessness.
Test cricket is like cycling uphill. It’s possible to cope with a small hill without too much difficulty, but a Test match is more like Mont Ventoux, where Tom Simpson lost his life despite his loyalty to the recommended sportsman’s diet of booze and amphetamines. Test cricket goes on and on and it can be hard to say which team will crack until the gradient steepens.
The current West Indies team is pretty hard
For quite some time, West Indies batsmen had the flair of old, only without the ability. They folded like a great wad of junk mail. Test matches fair skipped along and they lost them all. This has changed of late.
Recently, Shiv-like batsmen have been selected and the bowling has had a collective purpose. The masterplan revolves around hard work. Like Nasser Hussain’s England, the West Indies are no longer easy to beat, even if they don’t win many.
In the first Test against Australia, it was like they were paying time and a half down at the windmill as the Windies batsmen ground and ground. Then, when they bowled, they did so with discipline, not running through the Australian line-up, but whittling away at it.
Australia’s lower order hung in. Clearly the team as a whole has stamina. West Indies had hung in throughout the climb, but this is where they started to lose touch with the peloton. A pleasingly non-conformist declaration from Michael Clarke with his side still 43 behind then exposed the West Indies batsmen to the steeper gradient and so far they have all been spat out the back, their strength sapped by their previous efforts.
As we said, sometimes it’s the sheer relentlessness. Test cricket is famously hard.