An embarrassing fielding blunder added to the woes of the beleaguered West Indies in their final hit-out yesterday before the second Test against Australia on Boxing Day.
The Caribbean tourists, who were hammered by an innings in the first Test in Hobart, declared overnight at 303 for eight in their two-day game with a Victoria XI in Geelong.
The inexperienced locals were 169 for three in reply when play was abandoned on the final day by rain, with an unprofessional piece of fielding from Jerome Taylor helping their cause.
Jake Hancock finished 80 not out but should have been dismissed on 22.
Skipper Jason Holder was bowling in the 14th over when Hancock hooked the ball to fine leg where Taylor was fielding.
It what should have been a regulation catch, but Taylor was inexplicably leaning on the fence with his back to play, gazing into a near-empty grandstand.
“I’ll hear about it officially in a little while, because I wasn’t watching at the time,” coach Phil Simmons told reporters. “It can’t be a good look. It’s a team trying to gain that sort of respect, so things like that, we have to make sure we cut them out.”
Taylor only turned around when teammates yelled that the ball was heading in his direction.
He awkwardly attempted to stop the ball but it bounced past for a dispiriting boundary.
Hancock could not believe his luck.
“It was pretty good that. I definitely got away with one there,” Hancock said. “I couldn’t really see what happened. He wasn’t even on the field, was he? They (the West Indies) had a little chuckle. They sort of just brushed it off really and kept going. They didn’t seem too fazed by it.”
Undisciplined fielding was one of the West Indies’ many problems in Hobart, where Australia won by an innings and 212 runs inside three days.
The weekend’s tune-up provided few pointers for the tourists ahead of the Melbourne Cricket Ground Boxing Day Test showpiece.
The tourists never looked like running through a local side that featured students, an electrician, a policeman and two players with first-class experience.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who did not play at Hobart’a Bellerive Oval, was the leading wicket-taker with two scalps.
“I don’t know what has happened to the bowling,” Simmons said.
“I expect the bowling to get back to the way it was a few months ago against Australia and England.”
The tourists suffered a collapse of 5-31 on Saturday and only Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood passed 50.
Simmons also lamented a lack of match practice for his embattled team.
The Caribbeans, trailing 1-0 in the three-match series after being trounced in the series opener in Hobart, were given only a two-day tour match in the lead-up to the traditional Boxing Day Test in Melbourne despite having 13 days to fill.
The match against Victoria XI was played in scorching hot conditions.
“When I saw the amount of days in between I asked that we have at least a four-day game,” Simmons told local media. “When the last MOU (memorandum of understanding) came back it ended up a two-day game.
“I would love to have had a four-day game where we could bowl properly and play a proper game, like we did up in Brisbane.
“That’s what I would have been happy with... a two-day game is not ideal.”
Victoria state’s top cricketers were unavailable due to their commitments in the domestic ‘Big Bash’ Twenty20 tournament, leaving Jason Holder’s team to play against a grab-bag of players cobbled from local clubs.
“I would have loved a first team but the Big Bash has just started so it was always going to be hard,” Simmons said. “You’d always prefer to get better games. When people come to us now... our A team will always play the visiting team and that’s the sort of competition I would like when we go outside the West Indies.”
The Boxing Day test starts on Saturday, with the third and final match of the series in Sydney from Jan 3.
West Indies 303-8 declared (K Brathwaite 78, J Blackwood 69; J Hart 4-93) vs Victoria XI 169-3 (J Hancock 80 not out; D Bishoo 2-60).
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