Mon | Nov 30, 2015

An embarrassing first show by WI

Published:Sunday | February 3, 2013 | 12:00 AM
West Indies Kieran Powell edging to Australia's Michael Clarke during their first one-day international cricket match in Perth, Australia, on Friday. Powell made 11. - AP

Tony Becca, Contributor

The West Indies arrived in Australia a few days ago to take on the home team in a five-match one-day series, and after one practice match, a losing effort, they were bouncing with confidence following their victory in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament just over two months ago.

Despite the absence of Marlon Samuels due to an injury to his eye, the Windies were walking tall, they boasted top one-day batsman Chris Gayle, the promising Kieran Powell, the impressive Darren Bravo, Ramnaresh Sarwan, mystery bowler Sunil Narine, ace fast bowler Kemar Roach, and the four exciting all-rounders Darren Sammy, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, and Andre Russell.

They were confident that the former champions of one-day cricket, now the number-seven ranked team in the world, were going to beat another former champions, now the number three-ranked team, that they would move up in the rankings, and that would be that.

One man sounded a warning, however, and that man was coach Ottis Gibson.

Gibson said, soberly and sincerely: "We have a good team," while echoing the words of so many West Indians since the victory over Sri Lanka in the T20 world championship.

"We are the world T20 champions and we are proud of what we achieved in that tournament, but we have to move on and think about moving up the ladder in one-day cricket and getting ourselves in the mix with the best teams in the world.

"We believe we are a top team, but we now have to show it by the way we play."

The series got under way on Friday (Thursday night local time) in Perth and it was as if the West Indies players never heard a word of what Gibson said. If they showed anything at all, it was simply this: that their batting is poor, that against a good team, against good bowlers, and on a pitch with something in it for the bowlers, they have a long way to go.

Surprising decision

On a Perth pitch, on the fastest, bounciest pitch anywhere in the world, the West Indies won the toss and, especially with their batting, surprisingly decided to bat first.

Up against one of the best pace attacks in the business, one right-hander and three left-handers in Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner, and Mitchell Johnson, with the ball dancing about and bouncing high, as usual, Australia ripped through the West Indies batting, at one stage grabbing six wickets for 28 runs off 10.5 overs before dismissing them for 70 in 23.5 overs.

Australia then cracked 18 off the first over on the way to 74 for one off 9.2 overs to win with 244 balls remaining.

The 50-over-per-side match finished in less than three hours, less time than it takes to finish a T20 game, as the West Indies showed nothing by the way they played, by the way they batted.

Can the West Indies recover, can they bat well enough, or even bowl well enough to beat this Australia side?

I do not know, but I do not think so.

What I do know is this: both sides are similar in that they are mostly young and new players with one or two veterans.

Australia, however, are playing at home, they appear better groomed by a system geared to develop good cricketers at regular intervals, they are blessed with big fast bowlers who are also good fast bowlers, they have three left-handed fast bowlers, and on top of that, the second match, which was scheduled to be played last night (local time), was again set for Perth.

Another thing I am sure about, or rather, pretty sure about: if Sammy won the toss last night, he would bowl first, or rather, he would bat second.

It would be nice if the West Indies won the second one-day international last night to come back at 1-1, or if Gayle got mad and let Australia pay for Friday's embarrassment and leave the West Indies with a good chance of winning the series.

Should Australia win, however, should they be two up by this morning, it will be difficult, very difficult, to get back at them, even though the three matches remaining will be in Canberra, Sydney, and in Melbourne.