When times are tough in next year’s bid to regain the Ashes in England, Australia’s cricketers can draw on their comeback win over the West Indies in Barbados to show nothing is impossible.
From 8-258 in reply to the Windies’ first innings of 9(dec)-449 on the fourth morning in Bridgetown, Australia rose from nowhere to stun the home team and complete a three-wicket win in the evening gloom on Wednesday.
Australia’s three-wicket win on the fifth and final day completed a remarkable five-session turnaround at Kensington Oval, chasing down 192 runs in 47 overs.
Earlier, Australia claimed the five Windies’ second-innings wickets in the morning session to dismiss the hosts for 148.
Victory was achieved through Ryan Harris’s match-turning 68 not out, Michael Clarke’s bold decision to declare while still 43 runs behind in the first innings – the first time an Australian team has declared behind and won the match with all 11 players available to bat – and then a devastating three-wicket spell by Ben Hilfenhaus to gut the Windies’ top order.
Clarke said the victory is the sort of effort which his team can draw upon in the challenges that lie ahead – particularly next year’s Ashes campaign in England.
“As a player individually, I guess you realise and experience the thought of things not going to plan at the start of the game but you can still win – you can turn it around,” he said.
“It gives every single player in the team confidence that if they back their own ability, whether it be with bat or with ball, you can have success at this level, in any conditions, even if your back is to the wall.”
The back-from-the-dead nature of the win harked back to Australia’s turnaround in the 2006-07 Ashes Test in Adelaide where England posted 6(dec)-551 only for Shane Warne and Michael Hussey to lead Australia to a stunning win on their way to a 5-0 series whitewash.
That team was of a more-experienced nature than Clarke’s line-up but, with five straight Test wins under their belt, Clarke is hopeful a new winning mentality based on unwavering self belief is being developed.
“I remember Warney telling me back then that with a day and a half left in the (Adelaide) Test match, that we would win the game and I was trying to work out how,” Clarke said.
“At best, surely, we’d get a draw but he had no doubt in his mind. For me as a young player, I thought ‘righto, that’s my attitude – I’m going to win’.
“A few years on and I’m in the change rooms telling the boys we’re going to win this Test match. Hopefully, a few of them believe me the way I believed Warney back then.
“It shows, if you have that self belief … that you find ways.
“I know it’s tough. I know we’re tired. I know there’s going to be issues of the foot marks. I know it’s going to be a tough run chase but find a way.
“Credit to the boys, they certainly found a way.”