Australia v West Indies – MCG Test, Day 1: The new boys consolidate

 

There was always going to be cricket on Day 1 after all it is Boxing Day, the shopping has been done in the rain, we have reconciled our losses, got a horse that is supposed to win 8/8. That should be a big help by the end of the day.

After all the “G” is one, if not the best drying ground in Australia

Just looking back on the first West Indian touring team in 1930-31 they had their troubles as well. The “White Australia Policy’ was in its heyday and the Government had declared that the black players in the WI team would leave the country at the end of the tour. Not only that but the white and the black players in the team where allotted separate hotels by the ACB. The West Indies Board complained and the issue was rectified.

The team was not expected to offer much opposition to the Australian team and for the first four matches they were convincingly beaten by 10 wickets (in the first test) and then by an innings and 172, 217 and 122 runs respectively.

Today’s press would have been driven to despair by the end of the fourth Test. The unexpected happened in the 5th test match however when WI declared twice and won by 30 runs. Freddie Martin was the star of the match with 123 not out and a couple of wickets in the second dig of Australia. DGB 43 and 0 did not have a good match.

Strangely Martin did not figure in the team’s official photograph at the SCG and this was to be his 9th and last test for the Windies,

As they say in the classics “cricket is a funny game”.

Holder won the toss on this Boxing Day and as expected sent Australia in. A nice green top to bowl on.

It didn’t look good as Warner went after the bowling from the outset and shades of Bellerive grey where already descending on the visitors. With five fours and a three he quickly moved to 23. No sooner said than done he skied a ball to Samuels for Taylor and was out.   1/23.

Burns and Khawaja where more circumspect. After all they still don’t have the keys to the rooms in Sydney next week.

A dropped catch (Khawaja) shortly after lunch was the only chance that was given in the third hour of play.

Burns reached his 50 from 86 balls with 8 fours. He has been more circumspect and the keys are being cut for him right now.

Whilst the bowling showed marked improvement the fielding still was not up to standard. Both batsmen were awake to this and many a quick run was added to the total. There is definitely no urgency in their game.

Khawaja’s 50 comes up shortly afterwards. Except for the one blemish it has been a knock from a player who now is completely in charge of his own ability. He probably is the most improved player in the Australia team.

Unfortunately the shape of the game is going the way of Rodin and in particular the batting. Solid as a rock. Khawaja and Burns have taken complete control. They now have the keys to their Sydney rooms

The slow bowlers are on but they are only increasing the run rate. One wonders how this will affect tomorrow’s crowd.

A sign comes up on the board saying that you will be fined $1138. What a strange amount for invading the ground.

As tea approaches the light is getting very grey and it will not be long before the lights are on.

Australia 1/193 at tea Khawaja (84) Burns (83) and with time on their hands tonight the locals should be well past 300.

The charge of the light brigade started straight after tea has both players pushed quickly to their respective centuries.

Burns was the first to reach the ton and Khawaja did likewise next ball. Is this a new record with players making their respective centuries of successive balls? No doubt we will have a learned answer before the end of the day.

This cricket of the West Indians deteriorates as the day gets longer. The runs came far too easily for the batsmen. Lost count of the number of times that this happened. Poor cricket is not what the crowd has come to see.

The fourth estate has been critical of the visitors and today’s performance by them has vindicated the press.

Race 8 and our horse like the West Indies was never in the hunt and finished a poor eighth. Christmas spending just got worse. Talk about a mug punter.

The crowd are starting to drift away. Most of them would have had a big day yesterday but there was no pudding for Boxing Day. In fact I would suggest that many of them left without any reflections to carry them through till tomorrow or 2016.

I predict about 25,000 in attendance tomorrow at the most. What is the point and purpose of a non-event?

How much confidence would the two Australian players gain from this performance? Knowing that they now have their keys to Sydney if they can continue on for the remainder of the day then they will probably be right for the next two tours at least.

As usual – A WICKET FALLS! Burns (128) is beaten in flight by Brathwaite and Ramdin does the rest. Stumped. 2/287. A fine partnership of 258 by Burns and Khawaja.

Noticed a fine new carpet throughout the member’s area. Not your usual carpet. More like a carpet that was designed by indigenous people with hues from the Australia outback. A clean break away from what one would be regarded as traditional colours of red, white and blue of the MCC.

Could this be the first move by the members to surreptitiously suggest colours for a new Australian flag?

Skipper Smith comes to the wicket and slowly moves into his game and along with Khawaja moves the score along.

A surprisingly good crowd of 53,389 see another wicket fall when a tired Khawaja (144) tickles one down the leg side to Ramdin of Jerome Taylor 3/328. If test cricket is dying then how come the biggest crowd of the summer turns out?

Taylor, with the new ball has worked up a good pace in this spell and fully deserved Khawaja’s wicket. For his part Khawaja has certainly consolidated his place in the side. Four centuries in a row has been a fine return for the rejuvenated Ussie.

He certainly has come of age in this summer at all forms of the game and justified the decision of the selectors to vote for him as the incumbent number 3. Rest easy.

At stumps Australia 3/ 345 with Smith (32), Voges (10). The best of the Windies bowlers Taylor 2/83 and Brathwaite 1/31.

Once again it has been Australia’s day with very little opposition from a West Indies attack that was given every opportunity to show their wares when they won the toss and sent Australia in on a green top.

Not much for the spectators to remember although Joe and Ussie as players will now know they are going to New Zealand in February as two of the leading batsmen in the team.

About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.

Comments

  1. John Butler says

    Onya Bob.

    Interesting recollections of 1930-31. A young bloke called Headley also made a hundred in that long ago Sydney test. By all reports he could bat a bit. The current team could use him.

    3/345 would, in most instances, class as a good day’s entertainment. But, as you say, the whole affair feels more ritual than contest.

    Cheers

  2. Scott McIntyre says

    Well reported, Bob. As you say, not a great day for spectators as far as watching a varied and see-sawing contest was concerned, but good to watch 2 players who both seem like solid citizens and good humans getting their heads down and making hundreds.

    Another highlight for mine was watching that series of pull shots by Steve Smith late in the day. No disrespect intended to the likes of Voges and Burns, who are solid pro cricketers, but watching a natural batsman like a Smith or a Kim Hughes or a Doug Walters is on another level.

    A couple of observances of mine from sticking it out for the whole day in the Olympic Stand:

    1/ modern-day adult Australians are becoming incapable of sitting still and concentrating even for 3 and 4 minute periods, Despite several imprecations from the big screen to get up and do your moving around between overs out of respect for your fellow spectators, there were thousands in the crowd who didn’t have the patience to sit out the six balls before rising from their seats and pushing past the occupants of the rest of their row for that urgent next pie or beer or leak. I must have missed 3 or 4 full overs of action due to people pushing past me, standing up in front of me, suddenly becoming becalmed while walking up the steps etc etc. I reckon if you took a snapshot of the crowd in the middle of any given over, there would be 5000 souls in it standing up with their backs to the play.

    2/ for all the encomiums (encomia?) piled on it as the greatest stadium on earth, as far as spectator comfort goes, the MCG gets a fail grade because it is bloody freezing all the time. The wind gets in the among the stands and just whips around and around and around without respite. You’re sitting in there in the middle of summer, heavy-ish jacket and long strides on, and you are feeling cold all day. Step outside at lunch time, and it is actually a delightfully warmish, very comfortable low-20s afternoon. It always surprises me that no one ever mentions this, in between raves about how the MCG is the gold standard for sports stadia.

  3. JB – just looked up “the coloured Bradman” (couldn’t say that today- written in 1931) test record. 22 matches 2190 runs, highest score 270 n.o. In all first class games 9921 runs with a top score of 344 at an average of 69.86.
    At the age of 20 (1930) hit four centuries against England during the Test series.
    Truly one of the greats.
    Citrus
    PS you are right more of a ritual than anything else

  4. Scott
    you are certainly right about the “G” I remember being there one day when it was about 102 degrees but freezing in the Grand Stand.
    Don’t get me started on etiquette as a GOM I am appalled!
    Tried to introduce it as a subject (or lecture) during my Uni days in the early part of this century but got laughed at!

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