Following two very competitive ODI and T20 series in which the honours were shared, the word on the street was that the West Indies were back. And this time they were back to stay. In our preview of the first Test of the series Matt was keen to get behind this particular bandwagon, stating that:
“This is the best West Indies team since Clive Lloyd’s playing days. Perhaps even better than that. An absolute crushing of a vulnerable Aussie side is inevitable, along with a 3-0 series whitewash. Are you allowed to say blackwash these days? All this racism stuff is very confusing.”
Hence you can imagine our surprise when it turned out that the West Indies are actually still pretty crap, collapsing in ridiculous fashion to snatch defeat at the last. They haven’t had much time to dwell on it either, before heading down (or possibly up – with the exception of ox-bow lakes, we know nothing about geography) to Trinidad for the second Test, starting tonight.
It seems unlikely that the West Indies will make any wholesale changes to their lineup. For a start, they don’t really have all that many options. It’s worth remembering that in the first innings they batted very well with every player making it to double figures and four of them beyond 50. Yes, the second innings was a disaster, but these things happen sometimes. The main question will be around the bowling lineup. Trinidad is very spinner-friendly these days, hence the addition of off-spinner Shane Shillingford to the squad. It’s not overly clear how he’d fit into the side, unless Darren Sammy fancies himself as an opening bowler (which we certainly don’t). The main bowling concern from the first Test was the form of Devendra Bishoo – match figures of 1/169 were a) rubbish and b) a fair reflection of how he bowled. With Sunil Narine away at the IPL the most likely option will be to again rely on part-timer Narsingh Deonarine to fill that second spinner role. He could do with the exercise, to be honest.
Judging the quality of this Australian side remains something of a challenge. Their results have been good, but we’re still far from convinced. The batting always looks on the brink of collapse and the bowling can look ordinary at times (such as in the first innings when they tried David Warner, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey, with hilarious results). And yet they just seem to have that bit of know-how. You could call it experience, if cliches were your thing. We’d prefer to call it being a jammy bunch of bastards; years of Ashes humiliations have left us bitter and twisted like that.
Back on topic, despite winning the first Test there are still a fair few issues to address. Nathan Lyon’s honeymoon period is definitely over with his bowling average heading upwards like our Jesse Ryder run-out counter. There has been talk of Ashes hero Michael Beer being added to the lineup but we can’t see it. Australia’s pace attack is definitely their strength so to take out one of Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Harris to bring in a left-arm pie chucker seems an unlikely step, even on a rank turner. There is however the option of bringing in James Pattinson or Mitchell Starc instead of Siddle, just to freshen things up and slightly reduce the punchable face percentage of the team, although it’s also only a matter of time before Ryan Harris’s knees explode again.
In terms of the batting there aren’t really any options for change. Australia have plumped for the Cowan/Warner opening combo and are going to stick with it for a while, even if it stinks of village cricket at times. We’ll be honest – Australia didn’t pick Steve Smith so they deserve everything they get in our book.
This is the best West Indies team since Clive Lloyd’s playing days. Perhaps even better than that. An absolute crushing of a vulnerable Aussie side is inevitable. Hence Australia to win by about 900 runs.