How many times have we heard that West Indian cricket has ‘turned the corner’? After their admittedly hard-fought draw last week in Adelaide, the Windies have put in an insipid performance on the first day in the final test against Australia at the WACA, and they really only have themselves to blame.
The Aussies won the toss and batted on what is certainly a good deck. However, the Windies did themselves no favours. After all the talk of a renewed spirit, and fantastic leadership from embattled captain Chris Gayle, the Windies started awfully. For some unknown reason Gayle decided to bowl his frontline fast bowler Kemar Roach AGAINST the wind for the first 7 seven overs of his spell. Meanwhile rampaging Ravi Rampaul was blustering in at 130km/h with the wind at his back…what a joke! It is no surprise that the Australian openers enjoyed this state of affairs, and Shane Watson in particular feasted, scoring at a lively rate. It wasn’t until Gayle finally saw the ridiculous nature of his decision, and switched Roach to the other end, that they had any success. Roach got Watson with a beauty, and then put in a spell of bowling against Ricky Ponting that was truly fierce. Commentators on local radio in Australia were likening his ferocity to that of Windies bowlers of old, and it resulted in Ponting having to retire hurt, which Justin Langer rightly pointed out was a modern day miracle.
However, Roach’s spell couldn’t last forever, and his support was rather lacklustre, particularly Rampaul and debutant Gavin Tonge. It said something that the real threat was posted by part-time spinner Narsingh Deonarine, who picked up Michael Clarke’s wicket. Other than that it was smooth sailing for the Aussies against the ‘rejuvenated’ West Indians. Katich looked faultless until he got out on 99, joining a handful of players to suffer that fate twice in their careers. Hussey looked back into some kind of touch, though it was interesting to hear that whilst his first two years of test cricket had him averaging around 80, the last three have been at 35, quite a slip. Marcus North, by no means the most exiting cricketer around, hung in their on his home ground, and the Aussies are in a very strong position at 3/339 overnight.
The real disappointment of the day though was the Windies. No one minds a strong performance from one side if it is being matched by the other, but the truth be told the Windies just couldn’t bring the heat, other than Roach’s spell against Ponting. In fact when the second new ball was finally taken, Gayle again gave Rampaul the wind at his back (this time the stronger Fremantle Doctor!), and Roach into the wind. Roach was hitting 150km/h against it; just imagine what he could do with that gale at his back. But imagine is what we’ll have to do, because it seems again that the Windies just can’t seem to overcome their own weaknesses in international cricket.
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