Twelve in a row - Australians claim world record
A crowd of 11,057 people watched history in the making as Australia ripped through West Indies to take out the Second Test by an innings and twenty-seven runs here at the WACA ground in Perth.
The win, its twelfth in a row in Tests, has capped off an amazing fourteen month period for Australia - a period during which it has conquered all before it to create a new world record for consecutive victories.
"It's nice to get it; a long road to get there. I mean, I said to Jason Gillespie as we were walking off the field that it was pretty amazing . . . sixteen or eighteen months ago we were both sitting in a hospital bed in Kandy having just come out of the operating theatre in plaster (after suffering a sickening collision in the field). We turned on the TV and Australia were 7/49 in the second innings in Kandy. Since then, we've gone on this amazing winning streak," said Australian captain Steve Waugh.
As for the West Indians, who have suffered fifteen losses from their past seventeen overseas Tests, today's defeat provided a double blow - the home team has just broken the eleven Test winning streak created by a Windies team between 1983 and 1985 and this is the first time the team was beaten in a Test match at the WACA.
"It's very disappointing. When you hold a record for a period of time, it means something to you. This record meant a lot to us and it is not something that we were happy to see go. But give credit where credit is due. The Australians have played well in the last two Test matches," said West Indian captain Jimmy Adams.
Both captains agreed that the first hour of the first session on day one was when the match was won and lost. Five West Indian wickets fell in that one hour; five top order batsmen dismissed for just twenty-two runs amid a devastating display from Glenn McGrath (4/74 for the match) and Brett Lee (7/113). McGrath snared the wicket of star batsman Brian Lara (0) for the third time in this series in that spell to reach the 300-wicket mark. Number 300 came in the middle leg of a hat-trick - Australia's tenth in 137 years of Test history.
Although the visitors ended up making 196 in the innings thanks to valuable contributions from Ridley Jacobs (96*) and Wavell Hinds (50), they never quite recovered. To be fair, they were deprived of the services of one of their best batsmen when Shivnarine Chanderpaul was lost to injury. However, with only three of their batsmen reaching double figures, they were always going to be in trouble.
It was a similar story for the bowlers on day two. They bowled some good deliveries but not with enough consistency to contain a side whose batting line-up is eight deep. Mark Waugh (119) provided the backbone of the Australian innings, striking a majestic century and starring in a ninety-five run partnership with Adam Gilchrist (50).
Between fielding calls to withdraw from this Test series due to the advent of fresh bribery allegations against him and batting with something of a question mark hanging over his right to a spot in the national team, Waugh, 35, has been under intense scrutiny over the past twelve months. To come out and bat with an elegance and guile reminiscent of his heyday represented a great effort - one that eventually won him the man-of-the-match award.
The home team declared at 396 in that innings, after Lee slogged a huge six off Merv Dillon (2/130), having established a lead of exactly two hundred runs by that stage. Needless to say, the West Indians again found matters with the bat tough, managing just 173 the second time around.
Again, Lara (17) fell cheaply, this time to Stuart MacGill (4/84 for the match). Again, Hinds (41) showed resistance, this time with help from Adams (40*). Again, a number of batsmen got themselves out to silly shots that they know not to play with their team in such grave trouble.
MacGill, who was deemed to be unsuited to the fast WACA pitch in the corresponding Test against England two years ago and was relegated to drinks duties instead, claimed four wickets for the match, dismissing Hinds twice.
McGrath bowled eighteen typically miserly overs for twenty-six runs and Gillespie completed a fine comeback to Test cricket with four wickets for the match.
In the end though, it was Lee who stole the thunder from his more experienced colleagues, snaring three wickets in six balls to finish it off.
So it was that, at 3:47 on a hot Perth afternoon, a journey that began fourteen months ago with a ten-wicket victory against Zimbabwe in Harare was completed. Now for more records ... .
"I think everyone's aware of what we can achieve. We're not going to take our foot off the accelerator. As I said in New Zealand, it was just the start of something special and you get a feeling amongst the side that we can go places. I think it's still the beginning and we can get better. And we get so much joy out of playing well and winning that we don't want to lose that feeling. We can still improve from here," said captain Waugh.