December 19, 2000

Australians make it a lucky thirteen

Normally the number thirteen is associated with bad luck in the Australian cricket vernacular, but today it took a new meaning as, after thirty-eight minutes of play, Australia wrapped up the Sir Frank Worrell series with a five wicket win here in Adelaide.

Despite the loss of Justin Langer (48) following twenty minutes of play, Damien Martyn (34*) and Adam Gilchrist (10*) steered the ship home on another bright, sunny day.

To start proceedings on the fifth and final day, West Indies captain Jimmy Adams again put his faith in Mervyn Dillon (3/42), giving him the opening over of the day. He tested Martyn out and, from the fourth ball, got one to rise from a length, forcing the West Australian to parry the ball to backward square leg on the bounce. Dillon's excellent maiden acted as a great start the day and then it was the turn of the veteran Courtney Walsh (2/39) to run in from the other end.

Langer went to work immediately, cover driving his first ball for the day for three and, two balls later, Martyn squirted a couple quite safely through the gap between slip and gully. Five from the over and suddenly Australia needed just twenty-seven.

Dillon continued on from the Northern End and gave both batsmen a difficult time. He found Martyn's gloves with a ball which rose sharply from a length - the result a single - and then Langer found two runs backward of square leg with a neat work off the hip.

Walsh sauntered in again to just one slip and a gully, which was quite a remarkable sight in the circumstances, and again the gloves of the batsman were in for a beating as Langer was struck by another ball which rose from a length. Langer's sense of theatre and humour came through as he was shown to be grinning on television coverage straight after the incident.

In the next over, Martyn played a lovely push-drive through the vacant mid off area for three and then, with the score on 111, Langer edged Dillon to Ridley Jacobs to end a partnership of sixty-three. Langer had batted well for his 48 and he left with only nineteen runs still needed.

Gilchrist received a great ovation from the crowd of close to five thousand that made the effort to turn up this morning and he responded appropriately, immediately gliding a ball to third man to open his account. Martyn then square drove a three to reduce the margin to fifteen. To the huge relief of the many present, Gilchrist pulled a four, then off drove for an all run four. Seven were now needed and you could hear the relief eminating from Steve Waugh's lounge room!

Walsh bowled a tremendous over to Martyn following that, beating him once as he cut and then for a second time when he played with a straight bat.

After a couple of singles, two shots off the pads that went for two from Martyn tied the scores. Then a short ball from Walsh was slapped over point to the boundary to ensure the retention of the Sir Frank Worrell Trophy. Due to recent law changes, the boundary actually only proved to be worth a single officially as any runs which are completed before a winning hit now override the actual four. Strange but true, yet largely insignificant in the broader context of a thirteenth consecutive Australian Test win.