|Ryan Harris - hero to zero|
Australia won the toss and batted after Michael Clarke handed a team sheet to Darren Sammy which didn't have the names of Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle on it. On a low, slow pitch in Trinidad which Michael Holding described in commentary as needing a headstone, the selection of Michael Beer as a second spinner to Nathan Lyon was logical. Even if a gamble, the Australians hold a 1-0 advantage with two to play so any experiment is fair enough. One experiment though, not two.
Siddle, it was announced, had been rested owing to a stiff back. Never giving the appearance of a prima donna, the Victorian is the least likely cricketer in the world to be stopped by some muscle stiffness but it gave Beer's selection more gravitas. The staggering omission was Harris. Four days ago in Barbados he was named Man of the Match in a remarkable comeback win by Australia. Admittedly it was his 68 not out at No 9 which attracted the attention but his second innings bowling was as deadly and as quick as his best work, in a chequered and injury prone short career in the Baggy Green. Baring disciplinary action, the besting of Harris by James Pattinson in the intervening four days is not only impossible to believe but also a blow to the confidence of the big journeyman of Australian cricket. He played his guts out but still got dropped.
Meanwhile, Ben Hilfenhaus is counting lucky stars.
If the dropping of Harris by Mickey Arthur, Michael Clarke and duty selector Rod Marsh is bad enough at a personal level, it gets worse when applied to the team. Harris' tight line on a dead pitch stands in contrast to Pattinson's uneven temperament and love of the bouncer, a delivery he over applies when under pressure. The first Test example of Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach trying to bounce the Australian tail and losing a match in the process is all the lesson Pattinson needs to learn. With only two quicks in the side, Australia can ill afford one of them losing the plot.
|Michael Beer returns|
The more pressing issue for Clarke should be what to do with the tail. Beer, Hilfenhaus and Lyon are all No 11's. Hilfy and and Gazza would still get the job in St Pats U/12's. Pattinson will bat above his weight at 8 but has shown the technique to manage there but an Australian tail which was already weak, now looks disabled. You can talk all you like about the miracle of Barbados but any cricket supporter who thinks more about the game than the last Test, will not expect encore performances, especially since the conductor has been left in the warm up room.
For their part, the West Indies were forced to drop Kirk Edwards (knee) for Kieron Powell. Powell is a good player but he is no competitor like Edwards. Shane Shillingford was preferred to Davendra Bishoo - an offie for a legie. For Shillingford, it was reward for a long battle to overcome a suspect action which had him removed from Tests by the ICC just as his career at the top level started.
It was a long and difficult day for the Australian batsmen on a pitch that redefined lifeless. Warner and Ed Cowan made a positive start, both unafraid of shot making. Their opening partnership of 53 could have amounted to nothing if a first over decision had been upheld. Edwards last ball swung in at Warner, struck him on the front pad in front off off stump and flew to Carlton Baugh behind the stumps. A big appeal saw Warner given out by umpire Erasmus but Sammy withdrew the appeal indicating the ball didn't carry to Baugh. Replays showed there was no bat in it and Warner was plumb! The reinstated chucker, Shane Shillingford, got Warner in his first over, Sammy shelling peas at first slip. Cowan and Shane Watson took 10 overs to add 12 runs before the opener was DRSed on one of those half ball hitting the stumps umpire's calls. If the technology still raises questions then the rules over their use certainly should.
|Ponting edged, dropped, caught, out|
Mike Hussey and Matt Wade, batting ahead of a tail that is so long its an epic, saw things through safely until stumps but 3-167 an hour earlier with Clarke on fire looked a lot better than the closing score.
Tragics Session Count: West Indies 0, Australia 3, Drawn 0