England v West Indies, World Cup warm-ups, Sydney ‘Don’t want to peak too early’ – Richardson

If West Indies’ aim really was “not to peak too early” as the team manager, Richie Richardson suggested, they can look back on their crushing defeat at the SCG with a sense of a mission accomplished.

Beaten by nine wickets in a game that barely lasted 50 overs in its entirety, it is true that West Indies cannot sink much lower. But with only one more warm-up match to go – they play Scotland here on Thursday – until they face Ireland in their opening World Cup match, they are running out of time to find their form and confidence.

But Richardson, left to perform media duties in an almost impossible situation, was certainly not going to express any sign of panic. While admitting to some “shock” over the standard of performance, he insisted it was not a true reflection of the state of the side.

“It wasn’t a very good start,” he said with beautiful understatement. “But it’s not about the start; it’s about the finish. We don’t want to peak too early.

“This performance tonight is no reflection of how we’ve been training or anything about the mood in the camp. We have worked really hard. It is just very strange that England got the better of us. It’s just one of those things. We have prepared well.

“Of course we are unhappy with the performance. So we will review, we will reassess and we will come back. But if you had seen us training, you would have seen a bunch of really happy guys, who are training hard and did everything they had to do.

“So this performance came as a shock. I don’t have explanations because I didn’t expect it.”

Asked why Chris Gayle, who was dismissed first ball, did not field, Richardson replied: “He is our most senior player. We want to preserve him as much as possible. He played football with the guys this morning.”

The alarm that caused an evacuation of the SCG moments after might have nothing to do with the players – it was a minor issue in the kitchens – but as a metaphor for their state of West Indies side, it was remarkably accurate.