15 April 2012
A steady day of sorts at the Queen's Park Oval but it certainly didn't look easy for batting. It already seems as if spin bowling may very well be the focal point for this Test. The Windies made their spin bowler (an off-break bowler) of choice put in the work for the day to give his side an advantage of sorts. Our two will be watched closely.
Playing our first Test at the ground since 2003, it was a tough day at the Office for Michael Clarke and his troops but there will be comfort that Michael Hussey and Matt Wade are still at the crease and we have 5 wickets in hand with runs on the board.
Having won the toss perhaps the guys may feel 5-208 is fairly alright. Not the quickest of scoring days with that coming off the mandatory 90 overs play but it looked really hard out there. The selectors will be relieved that there has been some evidence already to back their two spinner selection. Action will be the justification.
The call up for two spinners meant two players missed out. Peter Siddle had a stiff back so he was given a rest and Ryan Harris was also given a rest but that was the only reason provided. Speculation may be that he did indicate soreness towards the final stages of the 1st Test and we know how his body condition goes.
Unfortunate for Ryano and Pedro, but Ben Hilfenhaus - who bowled so damn well in the 2nd innings of the 1st Test - and James Pattinson will be our chosen fast bowlers for the match.
Scorecard via ESPN Cricinfo.com
Australian 1st innings: 5-208. Shane Watson 56, Michael Clarke 45, Michael Hussey 26*.
It was suggested before this game that two spin bowlers would be picked. Right on the money and some serious courage shown by the selectors as the call was made to select Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer.
Shane Shillingford's re-call to the Windies Squad proved to be a good one as he gave indication that the track is a calling for the men of spin. He managed to take 2 wickets and sent down 32 overs. Hard work on his part, never mind our batsmen!
Things were tough for the batsmen. David Warner (29) and Ed Cowan (28) both made starts once again but unfortunately weren't able to steer us into a more dominant position.
David was removed by Shillingford in his first over and the impact was immediate for the spin bowler. After that dismissal the run-rate would remain a steady but slow one for the day and it would be hard work to get to the 208 runs scored come the close of play.
Ed Cowan was sent packing LBW off a Kemar Roach delivery. It was then 2-65.
He challenged the LBW with a review but it was wasted. My frustration with the DRS is that batsmen tend to use it as a chance to get of jail free instead of using it to protect their batsmen below them by keeping it in hand (accepting your fate), or in case they did get a howler or an inside edge not detected by the Umpire it is then a golden advantage.
In the case of Michael Clarke's review it did work in his favor but I get this feeling that the manner of approach is highly inconsistent, as is the actual system in a few regards.
The time it took Cowan and Shane Watson to refer that dismissal was also too long which didn't indicate confidence in the review. Pity for Ed but the system worked against him and Marais Erasmus was correct.
Michael Clarke and Shane Watson managed to put things on track with an 84 run-partnership after Ricky Ponting was caught behind with a beautiful delivery by Kemar Roach. I was gutted to see Punter walk but damn, how was that delivery?
Clarkey showed aggression in his intentions and was his usual self when handling the mighty challenging spin conditions. He was at ease against the Windies fast men and played some lovely shots during his knock of 45 runs, hitting 8 boundaries. The footwork was at his usual high standard, being really high and a joy to watch. Oddly, his downfall came with a rather unnecessary pull shot against Deonarine. It was fitting that Shillingford took the catch having had a review rejected shortly before. Clarkey took his chances to take on a slow short ball that he could have easily had a boundary from, but the man was ready and took the catch at deep square leg. Massive loss!
Watto will look back with disappointment after his soft dismissal. He managed to put the runs on the board where the rest of the top order batsmen didn't but he found himself heading off the Queen's Park Oval ground having made another start and not carrying on. As mentioned, the dismissal was a soft one but it was a heck of a sharp catch by Adrian Barath at short leg. His reflexes didn't let him down that's for sure.
Watto has made a decent start to the number three position with two half-centuries in 3 innings. The conversion is begging especially when he'd played with composure - way out of character in fact - and worked hard to build his innings. It came at the worst possible time after losing the captain but he did put runs on the board. With 5 of our men down though it brought Hussey and Wade to the crease.
A good note to make is that with the exception of Warner, none of our batsmen went along with a strike-rate above 50, which is an excellent indicator that it was hard work out there for the guys. The ones that seemed to have adapted got out before the fluency of any kind in stroke play could kick in. They'll be ready for the second dig.
Michael Hussey is the man I am excited to watch for the day 2. He was bemused by a number of deliveries but his wicket is in tact and he did start to adapt. He was quick onto the lose balls and he finds a way to see it through the hard yards and dirty work. Day 2 is a fresh start for him and I am sure his dismissal at the start of day 4 of the 1st test will be at the back of his mind somewhere, that mind that works on overtime in this game. Overtime especially when a rescue mission is in order! Huss, what a player.
The Windies will be chuffed with the work they put into their performance. They did really well to restrict us. Shane Shillingford looked the part making his comeback and worked very hard for his team. Besides Michael Clarke, none of our guys are dubbed as the the best against spin bowling so the rest of this Test will be tough. If our spin bowlers can use the conditions to release their abilities, along with the part-time of Clarkey and Warner, then the Windies will find it just as challenging, possibly more so!
Our batsmen were dismissed by some really good bowling with the exception of Clarkey but he was simply doing what he felt confident in doing. Given the manner of their dismissal's I don't think there will be too many drop lips about it but the issue seen is that it's made the middle order and lower order batsmen's jobs substantially harder but the Windies may find it just as difficult, even against a man of pace such as a fired up James Pattinson back in the side!
It was a slow day but necessary for the track we had been informed about. For now we know Huss is out there as is Matt Wade who will still have the burning desire to get himself plenty of runs against that red ball.
300-350 runs on the board will do to have a good go at the Windies.
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