West Indies v Australia, 1st Test at Bourda, Guyana

Match Report by Jon Cocks 15/04/03

The return to white clothes and a new location did nothing to slow the Australian Juggernaut. The return of Steve Waugh to captain the side and the hunger to recapture the Number One Test mantle from a somewhat fortuitous South African combination, were more than enough to drive the men in Baggygreen to a commanding victory.

Umpire de Silva had a shocker on Day One, awarding two LBW decisions against the home side that were patently not out, and another against a menacing Lara (26) that could easily have been turned down. At 5-53 in the first innings, the West Indian ship was fatally torpedoed before it had cleared the harbour.

Chanderpaul’s astonishing century from 71 balls was all the more creditable under these circumstances, as he cut loose on all the bowlers except the magnificent Jason Gillespie. None of the five bowlers suffered over-work and all got wickets, a plus for the gamble that excluded Martin Love in favour of the extra spinner.

Hogg began superbly, with wickets from consecutive balls, as his bosey did the damage, while he landed his flipper pretty well, too. MacGill was below par, bowling far too many loose balls among his occasional pearlers. Lee struggled with line, length and no balls as well, while Bichel was solid, if unspectacular.

Hayden’s form lapse had to come, given his majestic touch over an extended period of cricket since August. However his runout must have been frustrating, given Langer's 55* and Ponting’s 42* at the end of Day One. At 1-120, Australia was placed superbly and duly passed the West Indian first innings total of 237 with nine wickets in hand.

Ponting and Langer played within themselves on the second morning to build an impregnable platform, the eventual total of 489 more than doubling West Indian effort. When is Darren Lehmann going to have some good luck in a Test? This time he was caught for just 6 by an absolute blinder a couple of centimetres from the turf by sub fielder Bernard from a cracking shot on a bad ball. To rub salt into the wound, the same fielder dropped Man-of-the-Match Langer in the second innings from an absolute sitter.

The benign but slow Bourda pitch was reminiscent of Australia’s World Cup ‘home’ at Port Elizabeth. It got slower and lower in the match, but Lara and Ganga emulated Langer and Ponting with centuries to drag the hosts back into the contest on Day Three.

The West Indian batsmen, particularly centurions Lara and Ganga, showed real fight on Day Three. What Lara lacks as a tactician, he makes up for inspirational captain's knocks. The slow pitch and lightning outfield made the Australian slow bowlers pay and threw into relief the sheer quality of Jason Gillespie, whose figures reflect his greatness on dead pitches in India two years ago.

In the end, Australia needed only 147 to win by nine wickets. Injuries to Jacobs and Chanderpaul didn't help the West Indian cause, although we were treated to the sight of those two batsmen at the crease together with runners. ‘Bases loaded’ - as they say in baseball. Jason Gillespie’s 4-4 from 26 balls blew away any faint hopes of the hosts setting a realistic victory target and victory was achieved with four sessions to spare.

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