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Gabba goodwill quickly fading as 'embarrassing' Windies set woeful new record in Canberra capitulation

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6th February, 2024
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It’s hard to know where to start when describing the West Indies’ capitulation in the third ODI at Canberra. 

What was worse – the fact that it was the shortest ever ODI in Australia, that it wiped away nearly all the goodwill generated by their epic Test boilover in Brisbane or that they were up against a line-up containing mostly second-string talent?

Only four Australians who took to the field at Manuka Oval for the day-nighter which was over before the lights were needed would be guaranteed a run in their full-strength side – Steve Smith, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne and Adam Zampa. 

The spectators at Manuka should be entitled to a refund or at the very least, 50% off their next ticket because they were supremely ripped off with a not-so-grand total of 31 overs bowled from a potential 100. There was still more than enough time to play a T20 game on top of this mismatch and not run past the scheduled close of play.

Jake Fraser-McGurk and Josh Inglis at least tried to give them some value for money in Australia’s 41-ball innings by trying to blast the ball into Parliament House at every opportunity. 

Apart from a side strain to Lance Morris which has put his chances of touring New Zealand under threat, it was a cakewalk for the Aussies. 

Getting out for 86 is bad enough but there was a lack of commitment to many of the Windies’ shots – the wild swipe across the line from captain Shai Hope when he was out LBW for only four was a poor example to his teammates. 

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Canberra was once described as “a good sheep paddock ruined” and Hope’s heave to cow corner was as agricultural as they come.

The only batter in the side with a decent record at this level, Hope’s cheap dismissal turned a bad situation at 2-43 into one that quickly escalated into a collapse. 

Australia could treat the touring attack with contempt as they knew there was zero chance of losing the match. 

And when Inglis was gifted with a free hit from the first ball he faced in the opening over after a rare Fraser-McGurk single from a no-ball, he kicked off the boundary avalanche with a reverse ramp from unimpressed fast bowler Alzarri Joseph. 

From there, he and his precocious partner cared little for building an innings and treated the glorified centre-wicket practice as a home run derby.

JFM copped a couple of bruises from Joseph but the pain was all on the bowlers as the 21-year-old launched five fours and three sixes before departing for 41 from just the 18th ball he faced midway through the fifth over. 

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These are video game numbers.

Inglis was not to be outdone, finishing unbeaten on 35 from just 16 with four boundaries and a six while emerging all-rounder Aaron Hardie nicked off for two runs to Oshane Thomas within touching distance of the target.

Australia sealing a 3-0 clean sweep of the 50-over series was not unexpected but by doing so in such rapid fashion was hard to believe.

Sadly for the Windies, they previously held the inglorious record of being the whipping boys in the previous record for shortest ODI in Australia of 33.1 overs when they were rolled for 70 at the WACA in 2017.

Their total of 86 was also their second-lowest score ever in one-dayers against Australia.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 06:  Lance Morris of Australia celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of Keacy Carty of the West Indies during game three of the Men's One Day International match between Australia and West Indies at Manuka Oval on February 06, 2024 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Lance Morris celebrates after taking the wicket of Keacy Carty. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

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On the flip side, Australia broke their benchmark for quickest run-chase, eclipsing the mark of 7.5 overs set against an outclassed USA side in 2004.

The Windies’ woeful efforts with the bat were described as “not even close to international standard” by Australian legend Mark Waugh on Fox Cricket’s commentary.

“It was embarrassing, to be honest,” he said. “It was a good batting track. There was a bit of swing around early with the humidity but that’s not good enough. Individually, those batsmen have got to have a look at themselves.”

Hope had few answers after the heavy defeat.

“Our batting let us down. We saw that for the entire series. We need to do some real soul-searching to understand what’s needed in certain conditions,” he said.

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“The mindset has a lot to do with it – playing the situation. There’s a few things that you could look at.

“Sometimes it happens in cricket, anyone can be bowled out under 100. Out of the blue, I would never think my team would be batting like that.

“The Aussies bowled well. But we need to find ways to put them off their lengths, try to take the attack to them a bit more and don’t allow them to settle.”

There is rarely a good time for a fast bowler to get a side strain, the kind of injury which can linger, but with just a couple of weeks before Australia tour New Zealand, it’s terrible luck for Morris.

Playing just his second ODI, he had taken his first two international scalps after going wicketless on debut at the MCG on Friday before he immediately left the field midway through his fifth over.

“He just said he had a bit of pain in the side and was struggling a bit, so he’ll get a scan in the next 12 to 24 hours and we’ll know more then,” captain Steve Smith said.

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“He was probably a little bit nervous the other day making his debut, but he was starting to get some nice rhythm.

“He’s been great around the group, for over a year now he’s been there or thereabouts and it’s great to see him get a couple of games in.”

If fit, he is almost certain to be selected for the trip across the Tasman and would be an outside chance to make his Test debut if one of the frontline quicks. Fellow back-up seamer Scott Boland has been struggling with a knee problem but after spending time off the field for treatment in Victoria’s Sheffield Shield win over South Australia, he returned to help them to a three-wicket win.

You get the feeling that even if Australia rested the XI players who suited up in the national capital and chose the next cabs off the ranks, they still would have beaten the Windies, who failed to qualify for the 10-team World Cup in October.

Xavier Bartlett continued his superb entry into international cricket to take 4-21, slightly behind his 4-17 on debut in Melbourne.

He was lucky to get the first breakthrough when Kjorn Ottley (eight) was given out LBW and did not appeal the verdict even though replays showed he had inside-edged it onto his pads.

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Morris has Marnus Labuschagne to thank for his first ODI wicket after he launched himself at full stretch at point to send Keacy Carty (10) on his way.

After Hope’s hokey hoick, first-gamer Teddy Bishop was bowled for a duck by a Morris in-swinger for the tourists to slump to 4-44.

Opening batter Alick Athanaze steadied the ship momentarily but after he top-edged a sweep from Zampa on 32, the tail wilted as the Windies lost 6-15.

Matthew Forde’s run-out for a second-ball summed up the tragicomedy of errors – he hit the ball to mid-on, called a single, was sent back by Roston Chase and then fell over mid-pitch as the throw came in from sub fielder Mackenzie Harvey.

Chase gave his partner a serve as he walked off but he was to blame as he was caught out ball watching – it was Forde’s call and there was a single there as the fielder had to dive to reel it in.

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The Windies have a chance to restore Calypso pride when the three-match T20 series gets underway on Friday in Hobart but as great as the Shamar Joseph match-winning effort at the Gabba was, it will mean little if his teammates keep dishing up performances as poor as their effort in Canberra.

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