Windies’ tale of woe worsens as Australia bowl outclassed tourists out on day one of Test mismatch
It is a sad state of affairs that midway through the second session of Australia’s First Test against the West Indies that there’s an air of resignation that this will be another lopsided mismatch.
The outclassed Windies didn’t bat terribly and they showed some fight with a frustrating last-wicket stand as they were bowled out for 188 on the opening day at Adelaide Oval. But they’re just not in the same league as the world’s best Test team.
Truth be told, they haven’t been competitive against Australia for a couple of decades and their return to these shores for the second straight summer due to pandemic-related rescheduling is highlighting the yawning chasm and not doing much for their long-term development.
On the back of South Africa’s announcement of a second-string line-up for a tour of New Zealand, this looming no-contest of a contest is another reminder to the ICC that more needs to be done to help nations outside of the financially prosperous trio of Australia, India and England.
And right now. Before it’s too late, if it’s not already.
The Aussies were barely celebrating the wickets as they tumbled in the second session, perhaps not wanting to be seen to be rubbing in their dominance, before the Windies saved face with a 10th-wicket fightback.
Pat Cummins, as he showed at the ODI World Cup final, is not afraid to defy history at the toss and he became the first captain to bowl first at Adelaide in 44 years.
Although the traditionally batting-friendly pitch had slightly more grass than usual, Windies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite was surprised and none too fussed by Cummins’ decision, saying he would have batted if the coin had been in his favour.
Cummins continued his golden summer by finishing with 4-44 while Josh Hazlewood became the 10th Australian to take 250 Test wickets as he came back after an ineffective first spell to bag 4-41.
The West Indies’ chances of putting up a decent fight on day one rested with the opening duo of Kraigg Brathwaite and Tagernarine Chanderpaul.
They had a few dicey moments with nicks off the new ball in the opening half-hour.
With Usman Khawaja assuming David Warner’s vacated first slip position, he nearly had a chance to open his account in his new spot but a Brathwaite snick from Mitchell Starc failed to carry.
Like the batting order, the cordon had been rejigged to fit Cameron Green in. He returned to the gully with Mitchell Marsh switching to third slip on the other side of Steve Smith.
And Green’s height and safe hands made their mark in Cummins’ first over, swallowing up an edge from Chanderpaul to send him on his way for six.
“As good a gully fielder as we’ve ever seen in Australia,” said his former coach, Justin Langer, on Seven commentary. “If that was me in the gully it would have been one bounce for four. That is a great catch. It’s flown at him but he’s taken it so easily.
“I can’t remember anyone as consistently brilliant as Cameron Green in that position.”
After sending down a rare shocker which flew down leg side beyond Alex Carey’s gloves to the boundary, Cummins produced a pearler to remove Brathwaite for 13 which seamed away off the pitch, past the outside edge of his forward defence to clip the top of off stump.
For lovers of fast bowling, this is the kind of delivery they could watch on repeat for hours on end.
Windies great Ian Bishop, who was one of the most fearsome quicks on the planet 30 years ago, was in awe of Cummins’ clinical precision.
Bishop remarked on Seven commentary that the Australian skipper was his first choice if he had to show a young player a fast bowler on which to model their game.
Alick Athanaza became Hazlewood’s milestone wicket when he gifted him the honour by shouldering arms to a ball from around the wicket which clattered into the left-hander’s off stump on 13 to reduce the Windies to 3-52.
First-gamer Kavem Hodge (12) presented Green with another gully offering off Hazlewood after putting on an encouraging 46-run resistance with Kirk McKenzie.
After reaching an enterprising 50, McKenzie didn’t trouble the scorers any more when he snicked Hazlewood to Carey and Justin Greaves went no further than five in his debut Test innings after driving Hazlewood to Marnus Labuschagne at short cover.
Wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva skied Cummins to Travis Head in the deep to make it 7-132 and with tailenders Gudakesh Motie (1) and Alzarri Joseph (14) with only one more run added, the end looked nigh.
But the unlikely duo of veteran seamer Kemar Roach and the third of the Windies debutants, Shamar Joseph, chalked up the best partnership of the innings to not only extend the first innings tally but the second session past the scheduled tea break.
Their 55-run stand, highlighted by a six each and five combined boundaries, finally ended when Nathan Lyon trapped Joseph in front for 36 with Roach unbeaten on 17.