Ryan Harris’ maiden Test half-century and a spirited new-ball burst from Ben Hilfenhaus have combined to give Australia an unlikely sniff of victory in the first Test against the West Indies at Bridgetown
Chasing the Windies 9 (dec) for 449, Australia was 7-250 when Harris came to the crease, with the new ball due.
A determined Harris had a 35-run eighth wicket stand with keeper Matt Wade (28), a 44-run ninth wicket partnership with Ben Hilfenhaus (24), and added the icing to the cake with an undefeated 77-run last wicket stand with offie Nathan Lyon on 40 not out.
Harris finished on a career-high 68 not out, and had been involved with adding 156 precious runs for Australia to declare at 9-406, just 43 in arrears.
A major bonus for a tail-ender whose previous highest scores in 14 digs were 35 not out against India in January, and 23 against Sri Lanka at Galle last August.
In his other 12 visits to the crease, nine were in single figures, including two ducks, two singles, and two threes.
Harris led the major fightback where at one stage Australia was facing the possibility of following-on, and now have that sniff thanks to Hilfenhaus who surpassed his batting heroics with the ball capturing 3-2 off just 11 deliveries, before finishing the day with 3-17 off 10.
At stumps on day four, the Windies had rallied somewhat to be 5-71, a lead of 114. But they’re still under the pump.
This has been an extraordinary Test from the outset.
The Windies started with all 11 batsmen reaching double figures for the first time in 479 Tests in the famous maroon cap, dating back to 1928. When you think of the many great West Indian sides there’s been over 84 years, that’s a staggering first-time achievement from an ordinary side by comparison.
What is even more staggering only 11 times in 2,040 Tests have teams posted 11 double figure scores in the same dig.
India has achieved the feat four times – 1952 v Pakistan, 1968 and 1976 against New Zealand, and 2007 against England.
England three times – 1894 and 1928 v Australia, and 2004 v the West Indies.
Australia twice – 1948 v India, and 1992 v Sri Lanka.
And South Africa twice – 1906 v England, and 1931 v Australia.
It doesn’t matter how closely you follow Test cricket, there are some stats that continue to amaze.
Will the Bridgetown Test be among them, if Australia get up?