'It was a relief to feel the ball on bat' - Hodge
West Indies experienced a day of bowling improvement before being let down again by their batsmen, but Fidel Edwards still wants the attack to provide greater back-up to the No.1 Corey Collymore. Collymore has given the opposition most trouble during the series with his economical returns, including 2 for 54 in the first innings when he finally received useful assistance from Edwards, Powell and Bravo.
Australia began the day with a lead of 107 but lost six wickets in the first session and a total of 9 for 150. "I think I've given Corey a little bit of support but we need to give him a lot more," Edwards, who took 3 for 116 today, said. "Getting nine wickets today was a good comeback and hopefully things will get better."
West Indies, who finished the day at 4 for 82, need 175 runs to force Australia into a second innings and Edwards was confident they would achieve the target despite having a lower-order struggling to contribute. "We've started behind the eight ball and hopefully we can bat through tomorrow and make them bat again," he said. "The tail hasn't been batting that well but hopefully we can stick around and get some partnerships. We've been doing more work at training on our batting than our bowling."
Brad Hodge has showed that patient practice can pay off as he produced a smooth debut that was boosted by advice from Dean Jones, who was Victoria's No.3 when he made his debut as an 18-year-old, and Steve Waugh. Jones wanted to make sure Hodge focused on watching the ball hard and remembered to breathe and relax.
"They sound like pretty simple things but you can sometimes forget them in a state of arousal," he said. "Stephen said to back yourself because what you've done in the level below will stand you in good stead for this level."
Hodge, who has been a member of tours to India, New Zealand and England without playing a match, said he was nervous, but he didn't show it once he took a first-ball single to cover. "I knew I'd get the opportunity and I wanted to enjoy it," he said. "I hit a cover-drive when I was 10 or 11 and it was a relief to feel the ball on the bat and hear the cheer of the crowd. That relaxed me a lot."
He looked calm throughout his innings, despite being part of a "terrible" run-out that cost Andrew Symonds his wicket, and brought up his half-century from 83 balls with a glide to third-man. "Not too many people expect a helluva lot from your first game so 60 is a real nice score and I felt nice at the crease," he said. "You can get carried away with your debut and now I can just look to enjoy the next game."
Hodge was disappointed to be given out lbw to Collymore and felt he might have edged the ball as it hit the pad. "Maybe it was just because I was out," he said. "I felt like I could have made a hundred."
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo