The first morning of a home test series in Australia is usually an event that is accompanied by a large degree of fanfare. Unlike other parts of the world, Australians have continued to strongly support test cricket, which is a reflection of how serious the oldest format of the game is taken by the Aussie players. Captains such as Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, and now Ricky Ponting, have made no mistake in continuing to stress the importance of test cricket over any other format. However, the series against the West Indies that starts this morning in Brisbane does not exactly spark a wave of hysteria. The though of three, 3-day hideously one-sided test matches is just too much to bear. So, can the Windies prove the pundits wrong, and actually show some fight?
Much like many West Indies sides of the last ten years, the current team is made up of some sensationally gifted players, as well as some dreadfully inadequate ones. The problem for the Windies is that their team is not of a consistent standard. Sure, every team is going to have a standout star or two, but the gap to the rest can’t be too big. However, for the Windies, players such as Chris Gayle, Shiv Chanderpaul and Ronnie Sarwan, are so far and away the best players on the team, that if they fail, the team has no hope. As you will have noted, these three are all top order batsmen, and it is truly difficult to pick a standout amongst their bowlers. The loss of Fidel Edwards for the series is a big one, as he is a legitimately fine bowler. The Windies bowling situation reminds me a little of the Australian spin bowling conundrum. In the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s, the Windies had an amazing array of terrifyingly fast bowlers, and you would think that this would inspire youngsters to follow in their (big) footsteps. Similarly, the Aussies had the greatest spin bowler of all-time, and yet there seems to be no follow on effect.
So, day one will start, and more than anything, everyone will be holding their breath, hoping that the Windies can at least not embarrass themselves. It’s important that test cricket doesn’t lose momentum in Australia, and I believe that it’s also important for the Windies to improve in this format no matter what their captain thinks. It is my belief that by improving in test cricket, the individual and the team can really improve their form in the shorter formats, and I think to be strong in all three should be the aim of all cricketing nations. C’mon Windies, show us what you’ve got!!
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