West Indies coach Stuart Williams tried his best yesterday to remain upbeat but struggled to contain his disappointment over the Caribbean side’s most recent shocking batting collapse against South Africa.
On a rain-ravaged day at Newlands, West Indies squandered a position of strength at 182 for three to slump to 215 all out in their second innings – losing their last seven wickets for a paltry 33 runs on the penultimate day of the third Test.
Set 124 for victory, the Proteas finished the day on nine for one, 115 runs adrift of their target.
“It is quite difficult. It is difficult. it is stressful but we still have to find a way to get the fellows up and running tomorrow,” Williams told the media here in reference to the chronic batting collapses.
“We still have to dig deep, come tomorrow morning, try and say the right things and hopefully I will find some stuff to say to get the fellows up and running tomorrow. It is still 115 runs [left to get] and anything can happen in Test cricket.
“Tomorrow is the fifth day and some of the balls are already misbehaving so we’re still in with a chance.”
Williams, however, is unlikely to find much support on the likelihood of a West Indies come-from-behind win. The tourists have been outplayed at every turn during the three-Test series and unless rain intervenes like it did yesterday, South Africa will be expected to take victory in canter.
Bad weather wiped out the first two sessions, reducing the day to just 48.5 overs, and getting play under way at 3 p.m. but Williams dismissed suggestions that this had influenced the Windies batsmen’s lack of application.
“We can’t use rain as an excuse. You can’t play cricket in rain unless you’re going to play indoors so we were quite focussed [when play resumed]”, the former Test batsmen explained.
“For a moment today we played badly. Throughout the whole series the lower order has never fronted up and we spoke about it all along.”
Resuming on 88 for two, the Windies lost Leon Johnson after he had added just seven to his overnight 37, but an 87-run, fourth-wicket stand between Marlon Samuels and Shiv Chanderpaul kept West Indies steady.
Samuels top scored with 74 and Chanderpaul got an even 50, and the pair raised hopes – at least temporarily – of the Windies setting the Proteas a challenging target on the final day.
Despite the dire situation, Williams urged his side not to assume the result was already a formality.
“We were looking to bat out today for sure and anywhere close to lunch [tomorrow] and that would have given us at least 230, 240 runs [lead],” he pointed out.
“But having said that, we have 124 to work with, South Africa have one down already so we are going to fight tomorrow. This is a Test match, there’s still a Test match victory up for grabs so we still have to go out and fight and show some fight as an international team.”