Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Australia Produce The Goods

Harris reaches his first
Test half century
It's never safe to make calls about results during Test matches or to write off teams on the ascendancy and the Australians have proved it yet again during the fourth day in Barbados.

Starting the day well behind, things only got worse during the first hour as Michael Hussey, Peter Siddle and Matthew Wade all fell to the new ball. Fidel Edwards stuck twice after a barrage of bouncers, leaving Australia  8-285 and a long way behind. Then a strange thing happened when the same hitman tactics from the West Indian quicks were delivered at 9, 10 and Jack. Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus and Nathan Lyon stood up to the bully boy tactics and then blossomed into shot making; so much so that Australia's last three scored more than their first three. I have commented recently that the Australian tail was largely inept, based on the placement of Ben Hilfenhaus above Lyon in the batting order. Anyone who bats below the hairy Tasmanian can't be called a batsman. Regardless of predictions, the last two wickets added 121 and the tenth was unbroken. Harris and Lyon made their highest Test scores and Hilfenhaus played his same merry array of slogs but still lasted an hour.

That's more like it:
Hilfenhaus bowled by Roach
In defence of prognostications as to the quality of the last three, can any reader honestly boast that they could confidently predict Harris might make a half century or Lyon 40 or Hilfenhaus bat for an hour?

Michael Clarke applied the captaincy genius, declaring behind in order to harness the exuberance of the bowlers and turn it into an attack on the West Indian top order in the session and bit left in the fourth day. In five overs before tea, Hilfenhaus reduced the Windies to 3-4 in fourteen deliveries, with Adrian Barath, Kraigg Brathwate and Kirk Edwards all marched with balls up to the bat - a lesson perhaps for their bowling team mates. In the half hour after tea, Harris found Shiv Chanderpaul's edge and Wade held a tough low catch. The West Indies were 4-17 and led by only 60.

Hilfenhaus bowls Barath
Darren Bravo and Narsingh Deonarine settled in to retrieve the situation with batting more in keeping with the improvement in West Indian cricket under Darren Sammy. Clarke was superb during this last session, swinging his bowlers around ends and backing them will aggressive fields set for full bowling. They eked out 50 when the going was at it's toughest before Siddle tempted Bravo into a drive that wasn't there and his two and a half hour vigil came to a sudden and undeserved end. Siddle again! How often does he take only one or two wickets but always the crucial ones. Bravo left three overs from stumps and was furious with himself: a good sign in a young player, especially one from these parts where failure is all too often shrugged away.
Chanderpaul edges to Wade

Carlton Baugh saw time out with Deonarine, himself batting heroically in consideration of his previous lack of application in Tests. His innings is closing in on a hundred balls for only twenty but so far, its been priceless.

The margin is 117 with the all or nothing boys to follow. A lead of 200 at lunch might be enough to make it interesting but only if the West Indies keep the ball up. Despite his figures, Bishoo will be the danger.

An interesting day lies in wait for those of us who think we have all the answers.