Attack the worst form of defence for Windies

THE one thing West Indian captains of recent times do not worry about is their bowling attack. But yesterday, Test skipper Richie Richardson was faced with the vexed problem of an under-strength bowling department, so much so that he dropped himself from the Plate final against South Africa.

The move was not surprising. Richardson bowled once in the tournament and was carted all over the place. Then he took over wicketkeeping duties from star batsman Brian Lara.

But as Lara cannot bowl to save his life, Richardson's problems persisted. Thus he dropped himself and brought in Jimmy Adams. But the standard did not improve.

Plagued with it this year, Richardson now has plans for next year's tournament.

'If I have anything to do with the selection of the team next year, I will see that we bring a better bowling side,' said Richardson candidly after his team had edged out South Africa by one run to win the Plate.

Richardson blamed a 'depleted bowling department' for his side's two-wicket loss earlier in the day to Australia, resulting in relegation to the Plate final.

'We have to bring a better bowling side out here, if we are going to win the tournament one day,' said Richardson. 'It was disappointing not to be in the Cup final.' The reason was simple. The West Indies batted poorly against the Australians, a match which both sides had to win to enter the Cup final after they had each scored victories over Holland.

The Dutch fought bravely, with opener Nolan Clarke outstanding again, but just could not find that little bit extra.

Having lost the vital game to Australia, the West Indies came up against a South African side, which had batted, bowled and fielded impressively on both days.

Phil Simmons, who had been dismissed first ball against the Australians, redeemed himself by scoring 32 runs, which included four fours and a six.

But the player everyone wanted to see score runs, Lara, continued his dismal sequence when he was bowled by Dean Laing. Lara, who is definitely not a savage hitter of the ball, failed to get into double figures in the tournament.

Lara's dismissal, however, brought in Adams, and the left-hander hammered the South African bowling all over the ground before retiring on 32.

The West Indies finished on 72 for 2. Chasing the total, South Africa began disastrously with Darryl Cullinan being dismissed cheaply. Skipper Hansie Cronje and Laing revived hopes before Laing was out to a superb catch by wicketkeeper Lara, who ran 50 metres to deep square leg to latch onto a top-edge from Laing.

Bradley Player added a quickfire 21 to take South Africa close, but the West Indies, who fared poorly at the first two tournaments, were not to be denied this time - even if it was just finishing third.