Can Clarke become a Houdini in Bridgetown?

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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    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?

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (46)

    • Columnist

      April 11th 2012 @ 8:21am
      Brett McKay said | April 11th 2012 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      David, as is often the case, the first hour tonight (the fifth morning) will be crucial. If Australia can manage a couple of wickets straight up, and have the five out by lunch, then the odds swing well toward their favour. But I still wouldn’t want to be chasing much more than 170-180 in two sessions on that deck…

    • April 11th 2012 @ 8:49am
      Will Sinclair said | April 11th 2012 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      Test cricket really is brilliant, isn’t it?

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2012 @ 8:52am
        Brett McKay said | April 11th 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Will, this time yesterday, you could’ve written your own ticket to back Australia for the win, and now 24 hours later, they’re right back in the contest. The draw, once the most likely outcome, has now come right back to the field. So yes, absolutely brilliant, to answer your question…

        • April 11th 2012 @ 12:49pm
          Will Sinclair said | April 11th 2012 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

          You’re right, Brett.

          Test cricket just leaves all other sporting formats for dead. There is nothing like it, and it just keeps producing brilliant, fascinating contests.

          And yet… the lunatics running the asylum keep telling me that T20 – which is yet to produce a single, truly memorable contest – is the future.

          Beats me.

      • April 11th 2012 @ 9:02am
        PLANKO said | April 11th 2012 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Australia’s test side has had many strengths in it’s day but the ability of our tail to stand up is right up there ! I believe the fact that it does not matter whether we a dominating or well behind. I would love someone to come up with stats on on our bottom 5 scoring similar totals to the top 5 ?

      • April 11th 2012 @ 10:11am
        Walt said | April 11th 2012 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        You kidding? This has been one of the worst Test matches I have watched in a while. Sitting through the longest and most boring first sessions yesterday was a challenge.

        Only the fact that the West Indies dont know how to win Test matches has allowed Australia back into this. I was hoping Clarke would declare before lunch 90 runs in arrears so they would have more than 2 sessions to go after the target. As Brett points out, 180 might be a stretch. But then again, Warner and Watson open the batting and they might drag in the first 80 by themselves.

        If Australia pull this off, they will win the series 3-0 because the West Indies confidence will be shattered. No team should lose after making 450 first innings runs.

        • Roar Guru

          April 11th 2012 @ 10:29am
          mds1970 said | April 11th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          It hasn’t been boring; but it’s been much slower-scoring than many recent Test matches – with the West Indies taking nearly two days to get just under 450; and the Aussies had to be patient to work their way out of trouble.

          When I went to bed last night, it was hard to imagine there’d be any result other than a draw. But if the Aussies can take some quick wickets early on the last day, they’re in prime position to win this game.
          Which would make the West Indies wonder what’s going on. I grew up with the West Indies being an invincible force, but that golden era is long gone. This was their best chance to get a win over the Aussies, but their failure to wrap up the Australian first innings and then their collapse in the second innings may have seen that chance slip from their grasp.

          • April 11th 2012 @ 10:46am
            Walt said | April 11th 2012 @ 10:46am | ! Report

            Dead-Set-Boring.

            There might only be a result because the West Indies lost the plot. The WI curators need to come out to Australia and find out how to make a pitch that will produce a result. The WI cricket board needs a fair kick in the batty for playing 3 of the one-dayers in St.Lucia and then serving up this deck to start the series.

            • April 11th 2012 @ 11:41am
              PLANKO said | April 11th 2012 @ 11:41am | ! Report

              Walt if it is that boring go to bed this game on in the middle of the night. Go to bed. Not only that this game is on PAY TV if don’t like it stop paying for it !

              • April 11th 2012 @ 1:42pm
                Walt said | April 11th 2012 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

                Planko huh? Thick as 2 short ones I see.

                Who is to say I live in an Australian time zone paying to watch?

              • April 11th 2012 @ 2:20pm
                PLANKO said | April 11th 2012 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

                Ok but your are on an Australian site walt ?

    • Columnist

      April 11th 2012 @ 9:48am
      Ryan O'Connell said | April 11th 2012 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      Can someone please talk about Watson’s issues with run outs? It’s getting ridiculous now!

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2012 @ 10:05am
        Brett McKay said | April 11th 2012 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        it’s certainly interesting that there hadn’t been one since Watson’s last Test, in which he was also involved. He’s clearly got a problem with his calling and/or his judge of a run, but sadly, the lesson doesn’t appear to have been learnt, and the situation shows no sign of improving..

        • April 11th 2012 @ 10:14am
          jameswm said | April 11th 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          When in doubt, scream NO. Or just let the other guy do the calling, or agree to play it safe while he’s there.

          There are several ways to skin a cat.

          • Columnist

            April 11th 2012 @ 10:39am
            Ryan O'Connell said | April 11th 2012 @ 10:39am | ! Report

            I hate to sound like a broken record (but at least I haven’t played this track for awhile), but this surely falls under Justin Langer’s remit?

            Running between the wickets is part of batting. One of our key batsmen has an issue. Can we rectify please?

            • April 11th 2012 @ 10:49am
              Disco said | April 11th 2012 @ 10:49am | ! Report

              And we get tired of highlighting the cheerleader’s ineptitude. Where’s the accountability where Langer’s role is concerned?

              • April 11th 2012 @ 11:54am
                Chris said | April 11th 2012 @ 11:54am | ! Report

                It would appear there is none.

                Here’s a question for everyone – name a batsman whose skills have been improved by Justin Langer’s coaching?

              • Columnist

                April 11th 2012 @ 12:09pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | April 11th 2012 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

                *thinking*

              • April 11th 2012 @ 12:23pm
                Matt F said | April 11th 2012 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

                Warner raves about him, though Langer’s impact on him seems to be more the mental application side then technical so it doesn’t really count. It’s the closest one i can think of though

        • April 11th 2012 @ 3:03pm
          tommy said | April 11th 2012 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

          Yeah, he has been involved in some stinking run outs. Just off the top of my head.

          1. Katich & Watto ending up at the same end against the Pakis in 2009/10.
          2. Watto leaving Katich for dead at the Adelaide Oval aginst the Poms, 2nd ball of the match.
          3. This run out of Ponting.

          You would expect to see this type of running in pub cricket..

    • April 11th 2012 @ 10:26am
      Jay said | April 11th 2012 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      Is it just me, or do other people also want the Windies to win?

      • April 11th 2012 @ 8:48pm
        Todd Slater said | April 11th 2012 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

        I would love to see the West Indies regain the Sir Frank Worrell trophy. I grew up watching this team at their peak in the 70’s & 80’s. Mesmerising & thrilling are just two adjectives that spring to mind.
        By winning a home series against Australia it might go some way to returning this series to its rightful place as a five test contest.
        Richie Richardson as their coach is a good start.
        It would be a great shot in the arm for world test cricket as well if the West Indies could win as well.

    • April 11th 2012 @ 11:06am
      Chris said | April 11th 2012 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      Pretty pathetic of Clarke to declare just before Harris was about to beat his score.

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2012 @ 11:12am
        Ryan O'Connell said | April 11th 2012 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        The team comes first, Chris. And ‘highest score’ for a tail-ender is not exactly a massive milestone.

        With India, we just witnessed what happens when cricketers get obsessed with meaningless milestones.

        • April 11th 2012 @ 2:09pm
          Chris said | April 11th 2012 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

          The team comes first when MC and the teams interests align. I didn’t see much of the team coming first when Clarke killed off any chance of a result with his Jason Gillespiesque strike rate.

          Giving Harris another over to bat would have been nothing in time wasting compared to what Clarke did at the crease.

          • Columnist

            April 11th 2012 @ 2:25pm
            Brett McKay said | April 11th 2012 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

            Chris, if you seriously believe what you’re writing, then Clarke would’ve batted for 500 v India in Sydney. But he didn’t, did he…

            • April 11th 2012 @ 3:06pm
              mushi said | April 11th 2012 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

              Yep I don’t think anyone can question where Clarke’s motives lie after that test.

          • Columnist

            April 11th 2012 @ 2:28pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | April 11th 2012 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

            They batted at totally different times in the game. Clarke was batting when Australia needed him to occupy the crease, or we would have been rolled for under 200. Harris was batting at a time when we were surprisingly close to making a game of it.

            By all means, hate Clarke because you just don’t like him. But don’t hate him when he makes decisions in the best interest of the team.

          • April 11th 2012 @ 3:39pm
            Matt F said | April 11th 2012 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

            You mean the strike rate (42) that was higher then Cowan, Ponting, Hussey and Wade? And not far behind Watson? It was also higher than four of the WIndies top five in the first innings. If you just don’t like the guy then say so (though given you’ve probably never met the guy I’m not sure how you could form that opinion.) But don’t try and make up statistics that don’t even make sense in a flimsy attempt to denigrate the guy.

          • April 12th 2012 @ 8:48am
            Lolly said | April 12th 2012 @ 8:48am | ! Report

            Blimey. You can’t really believe that Clarke was motivated by Harris getting a higher score than him? Now I’ve heard it all. Clarke once took himself out of the line-up in a T20 match in the World Championship as he thought it would be better for the team. Give the guy a break.

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2012 @ 11:20am
        Brett McKay said | April 11th 2012 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        it’ll be a move of genius should Australia win the Test, Chris. And Ryan Harris would hardly care then, either…

      • April 11th 2012 @ 12:25pm
        Matt F said | April 11th 2012 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        Clarke haters out in force again? Found the latest baseless reason to hate him?

        If anybody were to be dissapointed it would have been Lyon, being so close to his first test 50 and all, but the team comes first.

    • April 11th 2012 @ 12:52pm
      Jason said | April 11th 2012 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

      The West Indies are currently paying 19.00 to win the test. Given the twists and turns so far – and the brittle Australian top order – that sounds like pretty good value.

      • April 11th 2012 @ 12:54pm
        Matt F said | April 11th 2012 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        That’s not bad value at all. Given our 1st innings was saved by a 10th wicket partnership and the wickets are starting to fall, a lead of 180+ by lunch will be a very difficult chase. And we struggle against spin

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