Clarke beware, the Windies are no pushovers

Kersi Meher-Homji Roar Rookie

By Kersi Meher-Homji, Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Rookie

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    Michael Clarke. Australian cricket's Mr Glass may have played his last game of cricket.

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    The preliminaries are over and the real exam for the tired Australians, led by an underdone Michael Clarke, starts on Saturday against the West Indies.

    With Australia ranked No. 1 in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and the Windies a lowly No. 8, one would have expected a landslide victory in the ODI series which was completed last month. Instead the series was drawn 2-2 with one match tied.

    The two-match Twenty20 series was also tied.

    In these matches Michael Clarke, the Test captain, did not play and Ricky Ponting, in my opinion, was unwisely dropped.

    The practice game against West Indies Cricket Board President’s XI at Bridgetown, Barbados which concluded on Wednesday was vital. Australia won by eight wickets but it was not a confidence booster as the opposition was made up mostly of untried players.

    The bowlers performed well, fast-medium Ryan Harris taking 4/23 and left-arm orthodox spinner Michael Beer 4/41 in the first innings, with fast bowler Ben Hilfenhaus grabbing 4/8 off seven devastating overs in the second innings, while off-spinner Nathan Lyon took 4/17. But the batting, apart from Peter Forrest’s 53 not out in the first innings, was disappointing.

    Paradoxically, Forrest is unlikely to play in the first Test on the same venue.

    Clarke appeared rusty for a No. 1 ranked Test batsman, as he made 38 and 4. Nor did big names Shane Watson and Ponting exactly set the ground on fire.

    My team for the first Test
    David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade (wk), Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon. 12th man: Peter Forrest.

    Pattinson and Siddle will open the attack with Hilfenhaus and Watson bowling later. Spin will be provided by Lyon and Clarke.

    If the pitch is a turner Beer should replace a quick bowler.

    As for the Test starting on Saturday, I’ll predict Australia will win narrowly but spinner Davendra Bishoo will be man of the match.

    I’ve noticed that on this tour, Australian batsmen have shown some weakness against leg-spin, and Bishoo should be ready to fire.

    I may have backed a Windies win if their champion hitters Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard were not axed from their team. The Windies selectors and Gayle have been at war due to Gayle preferring to be a freelance player. Surely a dialogue between the warring factions would benefit the West Indies cricket. Compromise is not weakness.

    Just look at how the English Cricket Board and Kevin Pietersen have made up their differences for their country’s good.

    Pollard is considered an ODI/T20 specialist – much like David Warner was until last November. But how Warner adapted to Test conditions! Pollard has not played a single Test so far. Given a chance he could make a difference between his Test side winning or losing.

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • April 7th 2012 @ 7:58am
      sheek said | April 7th 2012 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Well done Kersi,

      Nothing like a fearless prediction or two. Way to go!

      I was hoping you might also mention your Windies XI & help educate me on the worthiness or otherwise of the Caribbean players. I must confess I’m a bit rusty on Windies cricket these days.

      But it does appear there is a sort of revival in the quality of West Indies cricket, which of course is very good for the game…..

    • April 7th 2012 @ 8:25am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | April 7th 2012 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Thank you, Sheek. Do you remember that the late Vinay Verma had nicknamed me Nostradamus? Next Thursday we will know whether I am the real thing or a con artist!!
      Anyway, Cricket Australia has just announced a squad of 12 for today’s Test. Here it is:
      Michael Clarke (c), Shane Watson (vc), Ed Cowan, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
      Only one change from my XII: Harris for Forrest. If Harris is made 12th man, my XI will play in the Bridgetown Test.
      I’ll work on the WI XII and give it to you shortly.
      Meanwhile, happy holidays to everyone!

    • April 7th 2012 @ 8:30am
      Bayman said | April 7th 2012 @ 8:30am | ! Report


      I am looking forward to this Test very much. The more I look at the Australian team the more I realise it is very much a work in progress. Warner, Cowan and Watson at the top of the order have all had their moments in Test cricket but have not really provided much evidence that a platform will be built consistently.

      Clarke holds the No.1 ranking but hasn’t played for a several weeks while Ponting and Hussey, though proven warriors, are at the back end of their careers. Wade is a first gamer and the bowling attack is a mixture of experience and the virtual novice.

      I should mention that I’m basing my comments on the team you chose because I think it will be pretty much on the mark. Hilfy and Siddle are back after a great summer where they both improved markedly on what they had previously produced at this level. Pattinson looks like he will be a gun on his short career so far (although he has been spanked a bit in the short forms) and Lyon, while an outstanding prospect, still hasn’t done a lot after his Test debut.

      I confess these are the times I love most in Australian cricket. Lots of promise but who will be the guys who deliver. Watson probably needs to convert starts into meaningful scores, Warner needs some consistency, Cowan needs some scores over twenty!

      It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Australia could be 3/50 and staring down the barrel. Another saviour act required from Clarke, Ponting and Hussey as they did frequently against India this recent summer. I will certainly be feeling a lot happier if it’s the top three making scores and the next three consolidating rather than depending on four to six (and a novice no.7) to get us out of the mire.

      Wade is an unknown. Nerves will play a part but he’s probably got the series to himself to get into the swing of Test cricket. Good luck to him – I hope he does well. I feel much more comfortable with the bowlers and if they can replicate their performances against India then we are setting up a pretty good attack for the future.

      Right now Australia would have to be favourites but, as you say, they still need to concentrate on the job at hand. The Windies are quite capable of taking a mile if we give them an inch and this will be a good test of Clarke’s leadership. He’s coming off a great series win over India but it won’t count for much if Australia drops the ball here.

    • April 7th 2012 @ 9:08am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | April 7th 2012 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      An excellent analysis, Bayman.

      Australians had it so easy against star-studded but under-performing Indians that they have to be careful against lowly-ranked but fired up Windies. The home team has nothing to lose so they will fire.
      The Windies have not beaten Australia in a Test since 2003. So they will be all agog to break this nine-year draught. Their last Test victory over Australia was the record chase of 418 to beat Steve Waugh’s Australians in the amazing fourth Test of the 2003 series in Antigua.

      Sheek, my possible WI XI in batting order: 1 Adrian Barath, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Kirk Edwards, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Kieran Powell, 6 Narsingh Deonarine, 7 Carlton Baugh (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Devendra Bishoo.

      • April 7th 2012 @ 7:18pm
        Rhys said | April 7th 2012 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

        Shiv Chanderpaul should be in the WI starting XI

    • April 7th 2012 @ 9:20am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | April 7th 2012 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      The West Indies Cricket Board must be reading The Roar!
      Just read in CricInfo that Gayle and the WI Cricket Board have reached some agreement and he could be back in the Windies squad for the tour to England.

      • April 7th 2012 @ 9:47am
        sheek said | April 7th 2012 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Go Kersi, obviously they’re been reading your despatches…..!

        Also good to see the Windies have retained their unique mix of Anglo/Asian/Spanish/whatever names!

        Remember Eldine Baptiste, Sheik (Faoud) Bacchus , Easton McMorris, Garfield (Gary) Sobers, Lancelot (Lance) Gibbs, Seymour Nurse, Ellis (Puss) Achong, Oscar daCosta, Franz (Gerry) Alexander, Thaddeus (Mike) Findlay, Inshan Ali, Elquemedo Willett, Grayson Shillingford, Alvin Kallicharran, Isaac (Viv) Richards, Anderson (Andy) Roberts, Ezra Moseley, Balfour (Patrick) Patterson, just to name a few of the more exotic names of Windies cricket.

        But I reckon Eldine Ashworth Elderfield Baptiste & Sheik Farouk Ahumal Fasiel Bacchus would have to be the two most exotic of all! Followed by Easton Dudley Ashton St.John McMorris…..

        • April 8th 2012 @ 2:33pm
          Bayman said | April 8th 2012 @ 2:33pm | ! Report


          Yes, those Windies monikers have always been something else…..

          Baptiste, for example, is really Eldine Ashworth Elderfield Baptiste while the greatest player of all is Garfield St Aubrun Sobers.

          Even the three Ws are not immune – Frank Mortimore Maglinne Worrell, Everton De Courcey Weekes and Clyde Leopold Walcott.

          How about Conrad Cleophas Hunte, Hophie Horace Hines Johnson, Vanburn Alonza Holder, Simpson Clairmonte Guillen, Gerald Ethridge Gomez, Berkeley Bertram McGarrell Gaskin or Sylvester Theophilus Clarke. Great names one and all.

          Even a standard result like Wes Hall comes with the middle name of Winfield.

          By contrast names like Roy Gilchrist and Charles Christopher Griffith seem positively pedestrian.

          As a ten year old boy I met Berkeley Gaskin outside the hotel where the 1960/61 Windies stayed in Adelaide (or Glenelg, to be more precise). He was kind enough to sign an autograph book for me. If only I had known then about that list of names I would have asked him to sign the full name!

          Incidentally, the first autograph I ever got was Wes Hall, the second was Garfield Sobers. Not a bad start.

          • April 8th 2012 @ 11:24pm
            Kersi Meher-Homji said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:24pm | ! Report

            The Sri Lankans can beat West Indians hollow when it came to the number of initials before their surname.
            To quote from ‘Cricket Quirky Cricket’:
            “Two Sri Lankans, MKGCP Lakshitha and WPUJC (Chaminda) Vaas, shared a Test record. They had five initials each and beat the previous record holder JWHT (‘Johnny Won’t Hit Today’) Douglas of England into third place. But in November 2009 it was broken by another Sri Lankan; UWMBCA Welegedara, 28, who took four wickets in the Test against India in Ahmedabad. He set a world record of having most initials, six, for a Test cricketer.
            “However, at first-class level, their record pales into insignificance. A Sri Lankan cricketer Amunugama has 10 initials, ARRAPWRRKB, according to Wisden 2004. Here is the full name of our quirky record-holder: Amunugama Rajapakse Rajakaruna Abeykoon Panditha Wasalamudiyanse Ralahamilage Ranjith Krishantha Bandara. Friends and scorers called him Ranjith. In 1990-91, Wisden reported him taking 12-91 for Tamil Union v. Sebastianites. But then he had only three initials. Every year he seemed to add an initial. Not that the weight of initials blunted his off-spin. Ranjith represented Kurunegala Youth at FTZ Sports Complex, Katunayake in Sri Lanka on 14 and 15 February 2003 and captured 4-39 and 4-34 against Antonians as his team won by an innings.
            Second on the list of most initials on first-class scene is – you guessed it – another a Sri Lankan, AKTDGLAS deSilva, only 8 initials!”

            • April 9th 2012 @ 10:35am
              Bayman said | April 9th 2012 @ 10:35am | ! Report


              Those ‘Lankans have everyone covered in the name/initials department but Sheek and I were mainly referring to the colourful names handed out to West Indian cricketers given they are English speaking.

              As I said, Roy Gilchrist looks pretty ordinary among some of those fabulous names. Roy himself. of course, was anything but ordinary. He was, in fact, a complete nutter – and very quick.

              • April 9th 2012 @ 1:34pm
                Kersi Meher-Homji said | April 9th 2012 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

                Roy Gilchrist was a terrifying bowler. I first saw him bowl against Bombay XI at the Brabourne Stadium in 1958-59. He looked faster than even Wes Hall, and that too on India’s batsmen friendly pitches.
                I still recall his express delivery hitting Arvind Apte (brother of Madhav) on the solar plexus (unhelmetted of course) and can still hear the crack. AA was carried to the hospital on a stretcher.
                To me Gilchrist remains the second most terrifying bowler I saw in action after Jeff Thomson. (I did not see Frank Tyson bowl although we later met and had long chats in Sydney). I also did not see Miller and Trueman bowl.
                I saw Lindwall in action but at the near end of his splendid career.
                But I did see Hall, Griffith, Roberts, Holding, Marshall, Garner, Pascoe, Lillee, Snow, Ambrose, Lee and Shoaib Akhtar. They were fast, very fast, but Thommo and Gilchrist were terrifying even from a distance of 150 metres.

              • April 10th 2012 @ 12:04pm
                Bayman said | April 10th 2012 @ 12:04pm | ! Report


                I suspect one of the reasons he was terrifying was that he was genuinely quick – and mad as a cut snake. He was sent home from the tour of India for continually, and deliberately, bowling beamers at the batsman.

                His surly and aggressive personality made him difficult to control and finally the Windies tour hierarchy had had enough – so home he went, never to play for the Windies again.

                He then played in the Lancashire leagues for several years where he proved positively lethal and equally as difficult. Club cricketers found him something of a handful.

    • April 7th 2012 @ 9:31am
      jamesb said | April 7th 2012 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      You could say both the west indies and Australia have suspect top orders.

      Ponting, Cowan and Clarke are vulnerable right now because they have to get used to the conditions. Looking forward to see how Darren Bravo performs, while the other batsmen in the windies line up, I have no idea who they are.

      I’m also looking forward to seeing our bowling attack operate in a five pronged way with possible Siddle, Pattinson, Hilfy, Watson and Lyon.

      Its good to see Watson back in and will provide a valuable option in attack.

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