An Australian perspective on West Indies’ win

I see our esteemed editor is excited because Australia lost a ODI game last night against the West Indies.

This isn't actually a shock- I've seen West Indies quite a bit recently, and while they are still capable of an absolute shocker of a performance, their best cricket these days is really quite excellent.

The first point to be made is the pitch- in contrast to the other two fixtures played at the Brabourne stadium, the pitch was excellent. There was reasonable consistency of bounce, and batsmen could play shots with confidence, although it did get a little low in the evening. Good batsmen like Adam Gilchrist and Michael Clarke were able to compile a decent innings by applying themselves to the conditions.

The reason that Australia lost was that only Gilchrist and Clarke were willing to do this. Gilchrist was quite restrained and in the conditions his 92 was a masterpiece. Clarke also provided excellent support, and while they were going, it looked like Australia would pull off a win regardless of the dismissals earlier in the innings.

It was not to be, though, and the reason Australia lost was simply that in the end, Gilchrist and Clarke were left with too much to do. Shane Watson and Andrew Symonds got themselves out with terrible shot selections, Ricky Ponting was simply beaten for pace by Jerome Taylor, and Damien Martyn was a bit unlucky with his placement. It is rare that a side, even as good as Australia, can give away four prime batting wickets cheaply and still win.

All in all, though, it was a pretty good game. Australia surprised early by giving the new ball to Nathan Bracken, who did enough with it, but Glenn McGrath bowled well enough for mine, as did Watson. He's a batsman that bowls, and he did a fine job. Clarke's return to the bowling crease was a positive sign for Australia as well.

For West Indies, this win was important because they did bowl very well indeed. Most of their recent victories have come through good batting performances, and they will hopefully still be rather annoyed with themselves that they did not get 250 on that wicket. I'd never heard of Runako Morton before, but he certainly made a good impression here, and Brian Lara, well, he needs no introduction, does he? But the likes of Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan are still throwing away good starts.

But West Indies bowled really well, and they bowled as a team. Taylor provided real firepower, Ian Bradshaw an impeccable line and length, the spin duo of Gayle and Samuels kept things tidy and there was no weak link for the Australians to 'get after'. Gayle rather lost his rag with his aggressive behaviour, and gave away four runs to Clarke with a ridiculous piece of play- he looked to have totally lost it there for a while.

How far can West Indies go? Not that far. One more bad day like they had against Sri Lanka, and all the good work will be undone. It's hard to see them going on to defend their title without having another bad one.

Tim de Lisle thinks that the main point of this is that England are now the weak link in group A. It certainly adds some spice to the England vs Australia game on Saturday, although since the loser gets to go to Australia early and prepare for the Ashes, it is hard to call it a 'vital' fixture, since everyone will be happy on Sunday.

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