Australia out to prove a point
Match factsNovember 26-30, 2009
Start time 10am (00.00 GMT)
Both teams have something to prove. This is Australia's first Test since their Ashes defeat in August and they are desperate to eliminate some of the pain by sweeping past West Indies, just as they did the last two times they toured. However, the local personnel is considerably different to the great days of Warne, McGrath and Co, so this assignment won't be as easy as in years past.
The Australians believe the only thing that went wrong in England was losing the big moments. The only time that didn't happen in their past four series was in South Africa earlier in the year, with the superb victory seeming more like a fluke than the norm when it is wedged with the three other defeats.
West Indies have even more concerns after finding peace following a damaging player strike, during which the side lost at home to Bangladesh. The embarrassment is driving their ambition for this contest, but the reality is that if they win one of the games the trip will be considered a major success. In their past 39 Tests they have been victorious on only three occasions and despite Australia's transition tangles, it would take a major upset for them to improve on that record.
"If you look at Australian teams of six or seven years ago, we were expected to win every series we played," Ricky Ponting said. "In this one we're just expected to win because of this so-called weak West Indies team. We will just do everything we can to play the best cricket we can."
Form guide (last five Tests, most recent first)Australia - LWDLD
West Indies - LLLLD
Watch out forRicky Ponting - Hell hath no fury like an Australian captain scorned in England. Twice. Now he's home Ponting will be looking to bury every opponent in the lead-up to next year's Ashes series. At 34, he is entering the sunset of his career but will want to depart in a blaze of success following his latest setback.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul tormented Australia in the Caribbean last year, batting for nearly 26 hours in the three-Test series, including a not-out run of more than 18 hours across two Tests. If he remains so hard to remove the chances of West Indies springing a surprise will increase significantly. The tourists need him at his most tenacious.
A predictable squad has led to a predictable XI. Doug Bollinger has been confirmed as the 12th man because only an injury will be able to split up the golden boys of Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus. Nathan Hauritz will play while Shane Watson, the opening allrounder, hopes to deliver around 10 overs a day.
Australia 1 Simon Katich, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus.
Chris Gayle is a definite and now the big fear for the visitors is Ramnaresh Sarwan's back. If Sarwan is out either Narsingh Deonarine or Travis Dowlin will bat at No. 3, while Gayle is down to partner Adrian Barath, the 19-year-old debutant. The tourists want to pick four fast men, including Dwayne Bravo, and a spinner, but the balance depends on Sarwan, with a decision due to be made on Thursday morning.
West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Adrian Barath, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Brendan Nash, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Sulieman Benn, 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Kemar Roach.
Pitch and conditions
Expect a tinge of green on the first morning and the usual tricky seam early in the match before it flattens out in a batsman's beauty. It hasn't rained much over the past week so neither side will be tempted to choose an all-pace attack, and some turn is also expected for later in the game. The weather is predicted to be typical November: humid, maximum temperatures around 30 degrees and the chance of a storm every few days.
Stats and Trivia
- Ricky Ponting averages 62.77 against West Indies in 18 Tests and his 1695 runs put him fourth on Australia's list behind Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Mark Waugh. Shivnarine Chanderpaul is the best of the current West Indians against Australia, with 1210 in 15 matches at 48.40
- The last time Australia lost a Test at the Gabba was against West Indies in 1988-89
- Jerome Taylor will be the most experienced of the specialist fast bowlers with 28 Tests, two more than Mitchell Johnson
- West Indies have lost their past eight Tests in Australia
- Nathan Hauritz has 10 wickets at 64.10 in 10 first-class games at the Gabba
Quotes"This is the start of 10 Test matches that we want to do everything we possibly can to improve our Test ranking from No. 4 back up to close to where it should be."
"It's going to be the first time I'll open the batting with Barath. He's been around in first-class and he's certainly got a few hundreds underneath his belt. He's a pretty decent player. We're not looking to expect too much from Barath at this point in time, but we at the same time we will look to give the team a good start."
"We have had a good look at the Australian bowling attack and we felt it's not as experienced as previous attacks. Maybe we can put them under some pressure."
David Williams, the West Indies coach
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo