In the catch up article for day 4 I wrote, 'What's your gut feeling fanatics? A lead of 114 with 5 wickets in hand? 1 days play remaining. Some days I just love Test cricket.'Write now I can enthusiastically write that the Baggy Greens found a way to win this Test match. It wasn't a smooth task but they've done it nevertheless. A win is a win and that takes us up 1-0. Can you believe it?
Congratulations to the West Indies. They fought us until the very end and it's a big leap of faith for them in many regards. The Test was a bizarre one and looking back at the previous days it's quite an astonishing result. The catch for the Windies is that they're still not scratching their heads come the 2nd Test with this result and contemplating what they missed. We definitely gave them a golden ticket to win this game but they had some issues of their own as certain Australian players were really up to the challenge.
|Fitting that Ryano & Hilfy were the undefeated batsmen © AFP|
I thought of the Amazing Adelaide match just before the days play began. For this reason I am a bit upset Michael Hussey wasn't there at the end as he was involved in that match which remains my favourite Test fightback of all time. This will be remembered in my memory banks though as the Test that was pulled off from out of nowhere. Quite staggering isn't it.
Just one victory away from ensuring the Frank-Worrell Trophy remains in our grasp. I know a draw will do it but we all want to see the boys win. Michael Clarke can be mighty proud of his troops and take some pride in his decision to call the declaration when we were still trailing.
Full scorecard via ESPN Cricinfo.com
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.
- West Indies 2nd innings: 148 all out. Ben Hilfenhaus 4-27, Ryan Harris 3-31, Peter Siddle 2-32.
- Australia 2nd innings: 7-192. Shane Watson 52, Ed Cowan 34, Michael Hussey 32 (26).
Finishing off the Windies batsmen:
The Windies needed a substantial lead in order to draw out this match and a lot would depend on the survival of Narsingh Deonarine and Carlton Baugh. Ryan Harris had been interviewed prior to the start of the game and he stated anything below 200 runs was what they'd have their eye on. Ryano took it upon himself to initiate the task as he picked up the first wicket, dismissing Deonarine LBW.
Just 4 wickets stood in our way as the Windies lead certainly didn't look intimidating, but it didn't come easily. The bowlers had to work hard with patience being the key but it was ultimately going to be up to Ben Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle to get the required wickets to prevent the Windies from any major resistance.
Ben Hilfenhaus managed to take his 4th wicket of the Test. Hilfy effectively won this game for us with the way he tore up the Windies top order. It was easily one of Hilfy's best performances of his career. He did a similar thing against them in 2009 at the Gabba getting the big top order wickets but this was a special effort. Having struggled in the first innings he came back smarter and technically more in control. Encouraging signs heading into the 2nd Test.
Peter Siddle was ferocious with his final spell on day 4 when he dismissed Darren Bravo. He was rewarded with a wicket for his hard work on day 5 and Ryan Harris took the final wicket, bowling Kemar Roach who played well for his 25 runs. An unforgettable Test match for Ryan Harris after his awesome batting performance which, like Hilfenhaus' bowling spell, truly was a match winning performance. Grit and determination will take this side forward!
Nathan Lyon, one of our glory boys with the bat on day 4, dropped a simple catch at mid-on. It was an absolute sitter that he should've taken. Fortunately Shane Watson was able to bowl the man who we'd given a lifeline. That man was the dangerous lower order batsman Darren Sammy. It was the 6th drop catch for us this Test match and fortunately it wasn't a costly one.
There was a 7th drop catch! Granted it was a very tough chance but Michael Clarke put one down at first slip.
What this tells us is that if there was one major thing to take away from this Test match for improvement it would be to take those catches! The saying is old but so valid, "catches win matches". For this Test those catches would have made life far easier in the battle for victory.
Batting for the unexpected result:
191 runs doesn't sound much but I kept on thinking of that crazy Test match in Mumbai back in 2004. That track was a shocker but how often have we seen low target driven games being the most exciting ones? We should have never been in a spot of bother with the run chase but our batsmen seem to find ways to mess with our nerves.
The wicket was providing the Windies some variable bounce but the defensive fields set allowed the batsmen to nudge it about to gradually knock off the required runs
It wasn't exactly a pleasant run chase to follow as we saw another Australian batting collapse and I have to admit that I had a few moments of panic. This time it (the dreaded collapse) happened when things mattered most with a victory in sight, an opportunity our bowlers had worked their butts off to provide. By bowlers I mean those tail ender blokes who suddenly became batsmen, whose efforts to minimise the Windies lead on us proved to be invaluable.
David Warner and Ed Cowan went out cautiously and weren't in a hurry to kick off the run chase following a worrying period of rain. That was okay. The real frustration was seeing how Warner was dismissed having adapted to this approach. Heck, it was the perfect situation for him to quickly knock the Windies right out of the contest. Instead he was softly dismissed for 22.
Shane Watson managed to score a well composed half-century coming in again at number 3. The most refreshing aspect of his innings was that he was smart with his calling between the wickets and far more alert. It was a much better performance by Watto and he injected some momentum into the run chase, which had become a limited overs scenario due to Cowan and Warner's approach.
Like Warner, Watto was cheaply dismissed top edging the ball to fine leg. Really frustrating as he'd put valuable runs onto the board for the side and was looking really good but it was another big hitter gone cheaply. This will go down as another solid start made by Watto that could have been converted. As mentioned though, he put the valuable runs on the board and contributed the highest individual total.
Ed Cowan's innings was a pain to watch. I'm not one for bad mouthing my team but wow, he seemed to go from one extreme to the next. Cowan is naturally a player who builds and innings and finds confidence in doing so. Without the power hitting of Warner and Watson going on, it looked like he was lost in his own game plan. He then decided to attack but was not getting bat on ball. He was advancing down the track and making life even harder for himself with mistiming and a struggle to get to the pitch of the ball. He did manage to contribute 34 runs before getting out caught.
With the way the match turned after his dismissal, those 34 runs were vital. It was disappointing though he did not carry his bat having done all that hard work to almost walk off with his head down. It was the wrong time to get out and even though this is Test cricket, there was a sufficient amount of time chewed up in the pursuit. Down to a learning experience for Ed.
The real panic kicked in when we saw another batting collapse begin to emerge. I have yet to build an immune system to this. Talk about a sickly feeling when Michael Clarke was dismissed right after Ricky Ponting was out, bowled by a shocking delivery that kept uncharacteristically low.
Having seen our boys give themselves the best possible chance to win this game after 5 days of twists and turns, it was a disastrous turn of events and the dressing room looking very tense. Time was fading with the light and a reduction in wickets remaining in tact became a worry. We all remember the 2007 World Cup Final and the light drama in the Caribbean! We didn't need to add another bad light related gripe.
I instantly thought of Amazing Adelaide again when Michael Hussey came out to bat. That was the best Test I have ever watched in terms of an almighty comeback. This Test will slip just behind it but Huss was the key player. He has done it so many times and I am pretty sure that somewhere down the line he won't miss the rush and pressure of having to bail our team out time and time again.
Matt Wade was given the ideal debut situation to dig deep, fight the nausea and work with Huss. If you need a man to work along side you in a desperate run chase, Huss is your rescue ranger of choice. Tension was high though, especially with the way Huss pushes for the running between the wickets. Keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The final stretch over the finish line:
It took plenty of frantic Mike Hussey quick singles to get us over the finish line. As soon he and Wadey managed to get us to 175 runs, you could sense the Windies body language drop and the Australian camp settle. In hindsight, Sammy's defensive field had suddenly become effective as boundaries became damn difficult for the boys to find. This was also backed by some tight bowling by the Windies.
Matt Wade was dismissed with the total on 177 runs and Huss followed soon after but the hard work had been done and it was an achievable task left up to two of the match winners - Ben Hilfenhaus and Ryan Harris. The final run was scored and the Baggy Greens had victory!
So proud of the fight shown from our bowlers who became accomplished batsmen this Test. Long may it carry on.
The shot of the innings?
Hussey's first monstrous heave to long on for six was the one that released the shackles. That wasn't the shot though.
Now I've seen Huss play this particular shot many times before but his execution was a thrill to witness with that brutal slog sweep for six off Deonarine in penultimate over before his dismissal. To pull of that shot takes something special from a batsman. Huss is pure class. Immediately we had some momentum brought right back in our favour with that six.
All in all it was just a bloody fine effort from Huss. Serious focus and energy in a tense situation. He had a good Test match with the bat. He also played some really nifty reverse-sweeps. Cheeky at the same time.
We initially handed the West Indies this Test match with some sloppy fielding and our bowlers were lost in the action for the 1st innings. West Indies then handed the match back to us when Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon and Ben Hilfenhaus led an incredible lower order fightback.
Needing a reasonably challenging target and having been in a strong position we then handed the momentum back to the Windies with the threat of a draw or a complete batting collapse, brought about by Windies part-time spinner Deonarine. Fortunately the final twist was victory for The Baggy Greens due to a half-century from Shane Watson and the characteristic fight from Michael Freaking Hussey!
When you hear people say Test cricket is boring or that it sucks, slap them and then make them think again! We definitely made life hard for ourselves this Test but it was a special effort from the bowlers. As mentioned, Ryan Harris in particular was outstanding and his mates supported him.
It was a fightback, an Australian fightback. This was one of the best by this team along with the Pakistan Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 2010. The Test against South Africa in Jo'burg (2011) was also a mad victory. The most important thing with these games is that it's a huge learning experience for this side. In fact it could quite possibly be highly defining moving forward.
Our great team of the Warne-McGrath era knew how to claw their way back into any contest purely because they had the experience gradually growing up as a unit with these situations and learnt quickly. Fortunately a few of those players still remain in our camp but the learning curve is a bit different.
It is now the Clarke-era.
This is a step forward and even though it was a step back in some regards (fielding standards and batting composure), I have the belief these guys can turn it around for the remaining two Test matches.
Either way it was an extraordinary game of Test cricket and I am mighty proud of the boys for pulling off a victory from nowhere.
My tone may have been different with another result but I love this game so much and it's good to have the winning feeling. How good is Test cricket? Some down time until the 2nd Test.
This Tour has definitely had no shortage of tension and how good have the Windies been? Definitely going to enjoy the result of this Test for the time being. Been great sharing my opinions and analysis with you for the 1st Test.
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