Australia are preparing to face the first Test against the West Indies at Roseau, Dominica, on Wednesday June 3, in a series the Aussies have dominated for the last 20 years.
The Frank Worrell Trophy has been held by Australia since 1994-95, five times in the West Indies and four times in Australia.
Of the 34 Tests played since 1994, Australia has won 24, lost six with four drawn.
Currently Australia is ranked number 2 in Test cricket (only below South Africa) and the West Indians are way down at no. 8.
Despite these overwhelming stats Michael Clarke’s men should not be overconfident, as their record overseas in recent years has been disappointing.
Also, in the last Test they played the little-fancied West Indians defeated a full-strength England by five wickets within three days. The momentum gained at Bridgetown four weeks ago may well spill over in the Dominica Test against Australia.
If we look at the overall stats (in 111 Tests played since 1930-31), the West Indians are ahead of the Australians in batting.
The top four run-getters are all West Indians: Brian Lara leading with 2815 runs at 52.12 in 30 Tests, followed by Viv Richards 2266 at 44.43 in 34, Desmond Haynes 2233 at 42.13 in 33, and Clive Lloyd 2211 at 50.25 in 29.
The best from Australia is Steve Waugh with 2192 runs at 49.81 in 32 Tests.
Lara made the highest individual score, 277, at Sydney in 1992-93. He shares with Richie Richardson (29 Tests) the record of hitting most centuries for West Indies against Australia, nine each.
Only England’s Jack Hobbs (12 in 41 Tests) and India’s Sachin Tendulkar (11 in 39) have registered more Test centuries against Australia.
Coincidentally both Richards and Haynes have hit five centuries and 14 fifties each against Australia.
West Indies speedster Courtney Walsh has taken most wickets, 135 at 28.68 in 38 Tests.
Australia’s fast bowler Glenn McGrath has the best bowling average, 19.38, among those capturing 100-plus wickets (110 in 23 Tests) against the Windies. Another Aussie quickie, Graham ‘Garth’ McKenzie, has the best individual bowling spell in the Windies-Australia Test series: 8 for 71 in the Melbourne Test of 1968-69.
One of the most exciting Tests I saw was in Adelaide in January 1993, when Australia lost by just one run. It was the fourth Test of a five-Test series with Australia leading 1-0.
Winning the toss, West Indies made 252 and managed to lead by 39 runs as Curtly Ambrose bowled with fire and brimstone to capture 6 for 74.
Australian spinner Tim May had a marvellous spell of 6.5-3-9-5, and the visitors were bowled out for 146 on a pitch with lots of juice.
Needing 186 to win, Australia lost 8 for 102 with man of the match Ambrose grabbing 10 wickets in the match.
Opener Justin Langer made his Test debut remarkable by scoring 54 gutsy runs and adding 42 runs with May for the ninth wicket.
When Langer left, Australia needed 42 more runs when last man Craig McDermott joined May as defeat seemed inevitable for the home team. But heroically they added 40 runs for the last wicket, every run cheered lustily by the crowd chanting ‘Waltzing Matilda’.
With only two runs needed for an unexpected victory, a short ball from Walsh lifted to brush McDermott’s hand on the way to wicketkeeper Junior Murray and West Indies won by one run to level the series. It was a controversial decision.
If NSW rugby league supporters felt despondent when they lost to Queensland 10-11 in the State of Origin match on Wednesday, the melancholy felt by the Adelaide crowd on Australia Day 1993 was just as intense.