THAT Australia won the first of the two-Test match series against the West Indies is not a surprise, as they were overwhelming favourites to do so.
That the game went into the fifth day is a surprise, and is mainly due to the efforts of WI captain Kraigg Brathwaite.
This captain reveals the virtues of leadership, mainly by his performance on the field of play, plus the obvious inspiration reflected in the reaction of players’ achievements and their approach to the game. I have nothing but admiration for him.
He speaks with his bat, and there’s no way better to build the confidence of your men but by one’s own performance, showing what can be done with some application. And the skipper has that facility in volumes. He hardly shows annoyance, and is cool under pressure.
His bowlers needed experience in the conditions: the last time WI toured Australia for a Test tour was in 2016. For the modern-day cricketer, that is a long time, and is not conducive to the best development of one’s cricket.
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The WI bowling lacked the penetration required for this pitch. It was quite a surprising wicket, considering what is customary for Australian pitches. This is a new ground at Perth, where the original stadium contained a fast pitch which the cricketers of the day referred to as the fastest wicket in the world.
The penchant of Aussie captains. on winning the toss, is always to bat first. And Pat Cummins, the present skipper, followed suit and opted to take first knock when he won the toss.
And what a correct decision it proved to be. He could have been tempted to send in the WI, as the pitch had a generous covering of grass and there was the dark colour of moisture on its surface.
I believe that Brathwaite would have fielded first, had he won the toss, and it could have been embarrassing. It was one of those pitches that can fool a captain by its appearance, especially a visiting team’s captain, unfamiliar with the conditions, playing on the ground for the first time.
Surprisingly, the wicket was slow and the fast bowlers had to impart extra effort in their delivery to extract a higher bounce in order to gain an advantage. The new-ball bowlers, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales and Alzarri Joseph, found little in the pitch that could make them smile, and had to labour to get some life from it, despite claiming the early wicket of the dangerous David Warner, who played on to Seales when chasing one wide of the off stump.
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This let in Marnus Labuschagne, whose approach to his innings was a lesson for any aspiring batsman – and I hope the West Indians took note. He appeared self-confident, so sure of himself that dismissing him was surely going to be a mammoth task. Though the odd ball kept low, the wicket was so slow