Second Test, Day 5: What conclusions can we draw?

by Chris Riordan

I know Test Cricket can be a bit of a tedious, eccentrics’ game with the old joke of five days, 30 hours and then a draw. It takes a certain type to want to persist with the time, patience and faith in the hope that something worthwhile will emerge.

The Second Test of this summer nearly delivered the most extraordinary and unexpected outcome. But it was a draw and, in Wisden, may look humdrum.

But this was far from the case and the final day teased at times, just flirting to tip towards the Windies whenever Australia seemed safe. But the pitch had no real demons, the visitors couldn’t get a clatter of wickets and a moral victory is all they will take for a rejuvenated series finale in Perth.

An early and short series means public interest will barely be whetted before the visitors complete their Test commitments. This will be a great shame. This Australian team has not endeared itself to the public (look at how Bollinger has joined the petulance parade) and, rather than the sneering negativity preceding this match, maybe people are remembering how interesting it is to watch the emergence of new players. Despite the plethora of TV cricket which has dampened our home series’, the West Indies were not well known other than their form line that read like my punting history. After the final session of this match, it could be argued that the Australians are the ones looking in to the mirror now and their vibrant challengers will take some momentum to the WACA.

The day began “in the balance” although, Channel 9 hype aside, a pretty dull draw was always the favoured outcome. Gayle batted on, cynics suggesting to become the first Captain of W.I. to carry his bat – whatever the motive, his innings was an awesome response to those who’d derided his captaincy, attitude and technique. Cricket is merciless. I’d described him as not a Test player’s a……e on Sunday.

Australia’s intent was obviously to proceed carefully and re-evaluate later. Katich’s dismissal brought Ponting to the crease and I sensed that this would be his chance. Punter is not a great tactical captain and his demeanour can be questioned, but leading from the front with his batting has been a trademark. His hoik in to the Chappell stands pre-lunch excited expectations for a combative afternoon- perhaps the winning captain would be “Man of the Match”? When he played on to Ravi Rampaul in the afternoon session, Australia’s hopes trudged off with him. As Roach, dynamic in the first innings, looked a little tardy and Benn wheeled away without luck, it was Rampaul and, later, Bravo who made inroads. Rampaul’s style looked suited to a conventional Adelaide last day pitch which is rarely the spinner’s deck of hearsay, and I had a flashback to the nightmare loss of 1999, when, on the back of a Dravid epic, Ajit Agarkar (6/41) led India to an historic win. Bravo, too, put forward his claims to man of the match. His enticement to play for the 20/20 Vics was another recruitment at which I’d scoffed. “We’ve got Hastings and McDonald to bowl medium and bat middle”, I’d crowed, “Who needs this bloke?” The answer on present evidence is “Everyone would love a matchwinner like him!”

Shane Watson backed up his first innings’ 96 and steady bowling with a well-compiled 48, but his second dismissal by wrench to mid-wicket (good changes from LBW!) has the critics hounding again in their counter-balance to the selectors’ perceived bedazzlement at Lee Furlong’s boy. Huss never looked set, North played at one he shouldn’t have and Clarke and Haddin were left with 25 overs to survive. As they did.

Selection for Perth will be interesting. Siddle is stuffed. Katich was kept away from short-leg, fuelling questions on his fitness (hand?). Hauritz took no second innings wickets. Johnson seemed to bowl a lot of rubbish amongst taking wickets. This is an unsettled team which will need to find form and charm before the Poms come back next year.

But first they must dismiss these West Indian upstarts. Sarwan and Chanderpaul, proven Test players, have yet to make a big score, but Barath, Gayle, Nash (nearly) and Bravo have shown the Aussies how to build on a start. The skipper has his side’s faith and I suspect the crowd will be willing them to give it to the home team.

What a shame this battle will be over after Round 3, appropriately what amateurs fight as that seems to me the status of cricket admin. Fortunately, and again running counter to media dousing, the Pakistanis will be a formidable foe for Australia. Test cricket must stay true to its core. It can be frustrating, even boring, but for those who persist, it rewards. Today’s play was statistically indecisive, but it is all part of a grand story that will reveal itself over this summer and then beyond.

Comments

  1. Fair summary, Chris.
    A couple of points to ponder: 1, a number of West Indian batsmen have now posted centuries, but no Australian has; 2, these days, unfortunately, Huss never looks set!

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    Hussey is in obvious decline.

  3. Time to clear the decks – Hussey is finished, Hadin can’t keep (a pity because he can bat), Mitch Johnson is a useless mummy’s girl, Watson should bat at 6, Michael Clarke is completely over rated, Siddle is turning into a pie thrower, and Hauritz couldn’t get me out. Pretty ordinary lot really.

  4. So it looks like we rebuild around Dips at 5?

  5. Crio – no, that’s where North will bat. I’ll bowl my orthodox offies and come in at 11.

  6. John Butler says:

    Guys,

    I think I’ll fall somewhere in between these august opinions.

    The last day was a duel of two sides who lacked the confidence to go flat out for a win. The Windies haven’t won much for a long while, and Australia have had too many recent reminders of what it is to lose.

    The Windies had the four outstanding individuals in the match. Australia’s best was Watson, not the most comfortable of positions.

    Can the Windies keep it going in Perth? What sort of attack will the Aussies be able to muster? The constant merry-go-round of quicks must be concerning them.

    Looking forward to Perth. If the Aussies can’t win against this opposition, it must surely prompt some big questions.

Leave a Comment

*