(CMC) HARARE, Zimbabwe—Head coach Darren Sammy on Sunday described West Indies’ catching as “painful” and warned players their attitude to fielding in training needed to improve, if they were to make any serious inroads in One-Day Internationals.
The Caribbean side grassed as many as five chances during Saturday’s shock 35-run defeat to Zimbabwe in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers, leaving their campaign to reach the showpiece in India later this year in some peril.
“It’s painful. The saying goes ‘catches win matches’,” Sammy told reporters.
“From the time I started playing cricket, one of the first phrases I heard from a coach was that catches win matches and as a fielding group, it’s the only time when you play where you will be out in the middle as a team.
“When you bat, you’ve got two guys representing you but when you’re on the field, you create an energy. Fielding is an attitude and that’s the message we have been drilling in.
“We were winning games [in this tournament], even the previous two games we won, we dropped I think eight catches as well and it was only a matter of time where it would [come back] to bite us.”
West Indies twice put down Sikandar Raza before he reached 10 and he went on to top-score with 68 off 58 deliveries, and they also dropped Ryan Burl on 39, allowing him to lash 50 off 57 balls.
Sent in, the hosts rallied to 268 all out with a ball remaining in the innings, and the reduced West Indies to 233 in the 45th over.
“Leaving the Caribbean, we always knew Zimbabwe was going to be the ‘it’ game of the tournament and in any format of the game when you keep dropping the opposition’s best batsmen, sooner or later you’re going to pay for it and we did that,” said Sammy.
“I’m still trying to put my hands on why international cricketers are dropping so many catches and whether we have to do more, but I think it stems from the attitude in training towards fielding and it’s something that we are working on.
“I inherited this team. They have some old habits they have to get rid of but I’ll continue to press on that line that what we could become is a much better fielding team, and we have what it takes in there.
“It’s just the attitude and the mindset to fielding has to be the same, like it is towards batting and bowling.”
Speedster Alzarri Joseph found himself as the unfortunate recipient of his side’s negligence, with three chances going down off his bowling when Raza and Burl were let off.
He finished with two for 42 but Sammy said the fielders had a duty to provide better support to bowlers who were creating chances.
“We had some honest conversations in that dressing room after the game. I personally had to put [an arm] over Alzarri’s [shoulder] half-way through the innings because it’s painful,” Sammy said.
“I’ve challenged my bowlers to put the ball in certain areas to create chances. And wickets are often hard to come around but … we as fielders owe it to our fast bowlers – any bowler – when they are executing plans and creating chances, it’s the fielders duty to make sure we grab [them].
“Poor Alzarri, I think I counted eight dropped catches off him this season – that’s eight wickets more he could’ve had. That’s disappointing.
“I put my hands around his shoulder and urged him to continue because that’s what we have to do.”
He added: “We are a team, we’re showing exactly where we’re at in the world; that’s why we are in the qualifiers, and certain things will have to change – [they are] going to change moving forward.”
“We need men who are on the same page as myself and the captain [and who are going in] the direction we want to go and it’s a complete circle.
“If we want to go up the rankings and up the ladder in ODI cricket, certain things must change and our attitude towards fielding is one of the main ones that has to change.”
West Indies are third in Group A on four points from victories over United States and Nepal, and face the Netherlands in their next outing on Monday.