West Indies tour another workmanlike Aussie performance
Australia will need Michael Clarke to have a big series to have any chance of winning back the Ashes. AP Photo/Rob Griffith
On the surface, a tidy 2-0 result to Michael Clarke’s men would appear like a garden-variety taking care of business scoreline, finalised behind the scenes with minimal hubbub.
But there were mousetraps aplenty on a journey that required cool heads.
The wickets were super-drowsy at times, ensuring the fiercest examination of our batsmen’s technique and patience, a test that was often failed by a top order who seem to play tag on whose turn it is to contribute each innings.
Then the bowling unit was stripped back to the bare and Starc essentials when powerhouses James Pattinson and Peter Siddle both crocked in the same match, and even a few claws were out for Nathan Lyon when he copped some tap early on.
There were crossroad positions in the first and third tests, when the West Indies were only half a session from becoming the pants-wearer, and the rain that scuppered a potentially tasty run chase by the hosts in the second match.
You can see why the Frank Worrell Trophy will be held fondly on the flight home by Clarke and his squad, especially in the overall scheme of their recent rejuvenation which can go from muscular to delicate based on the smallest trip-up.
Credit also has to go to Darren Sammy and his mob of capable labourers.
The air needs to be cleared regarding West Indian cricket, and I’m not talking about the sometime-spotted hazy scenes surrounding the relaxed punters in the bleachers.
Calypso Cricket is slowly cleansing itself of its squishy and bendable qualities.
They are still guilty of refusing to front-run in games, always somehow finding a way to unravel their hard work usually through spectacular batting cataclysm. But the difference these days compared with the rabble of previous years is that they are now regularly playing themselves into positions which buy them a decent strike at the opposition.
Learning to place their hands on the other team’s throats and not on their own could go a long way to seeing them on the right side of the ledger more often.
Now let’s put on our green and gold cork-hat. Our team has jumped above India on the ICC rankings into third and there’s high-fiving happening around the water coolers. What’s on the horizon for the Baggy Green?
I said before this series that it’s just another stepping stone in the rebuilding of confidence. But now I have to admit, I’m getting a little bit charged about the possibility of making waves in the Old Dart in 2013.
Clarke is captaining the side with a cool swagger and a fearless tactical nature, and our seam bowling unit is now running six options deep with blokes who can build pressure by sticking to a tried and tested blueprint of hitting areas and getting the ball to talk, a plan also known as the opposite of whatever Mitchell Johnson used to do.
Behind the sticks, Matthew Wade stepped up beautifully in place of Brad Haddin and cherried his tour cake with a gutsy ton in the last test. Whichever way the selectors go when Haddin returns is up to them but once again it’s another bulge in depth.
Even Michael Beer, the forgotten man of the spin fraternity, took his chance and bowled capably when called upon.
As for the batting, it was a tough and torrid slog from the beginning that sliced a few egos.
Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting would be thanking the time difference for the minimal exposure of their skinny numbers on this tour, but they should be there for the start of the Australian summer. However, I suggest a willow master class from the overachieving tail is in order to help them iron out the kinks.
Next stop? South Africa in our own backyard. A sure-fire way to either increase the excitement or brutally knock it on the head.
Dane was named best and fairest in the 2004 Bathurst mixed indoor cricket competition. With nothing in the game left to achieve, he immediately retired at his peak to a reclusive life ensconced in the velvet of organised contests. Catch the man here: @eld2_0