Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, Adelaide

A result-oriented batting paradise

Nitin Sundar

December 3, 2009

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West Indies' batsmen had a tough time at the Gabba but, for a line-up woefully short on runs and confidence, the venue for the second Test represents the best chance to get going. The Adelaide Oval should raise Chris Gayle's spirits since it is one of West Indies' better venues in Australia.

The last of the visitors' five wins in Adelaide was the pulsating one-run victory in 1993, when Courtney Walsh dismissed Craig McDermott to end a 40-run last-wicket stand in the nick of time. Since then, West Indies have lost in each of their three visits to Adelaide. Australia have an impressive record here, with the last of their 16 defeats coming in 2003, when Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar inspired a come-from-behind upset.

Australia's record in Adelaide
Time period Played Won Lost Draw/Tie W/L Ratio
Overall 67 34 17 17 2.12
Since January 2000 9 7 1 1 7.00

Adelaide is among the best venues for batting around the world. It has traditionally favoured the time-tested dictum of win the toss and bat first, a trend bucked only by the invincible Australian sides of the 2000s, whose dominance often removed the toss from the equation. Six out of the nine matches played since January 2000 have been won by the team that batted second; Australia were victors on five of those occasions.

Impact of toss on Adelaide Tests
Time period Played Won by team batting first Won by team batting second Draw/Tie W/L Ratio
Overall 67 32 18 17 1.77
Since January 2000 9 2 6 1 0.33

Australia's belief that they can enforce a win irrespective of the toss is statistically well-grounded. In recent times, the pitch at the Adelaide Oval has remained a batting beauty for long enough to ensure that teams batting second are not disadvantaged. This is evident through the fact that the average scores in the first two innings have gone up considerably, while the variation between them has come down since 2000. In the same period, batting in the fourth innings has become easier than in the third.

Average runs per wicket in Adelaide
Time period 1st innings 2nd innings 3rd innings 4th innings
Overall 39.1 36.2 34.1 30.6
Since January 2000 48.3 46.5 23.0 28.7

The most interesting aspect of recent Adelaide tracks is that they drastically change character around the halfway mark, making batting notoriously difficult for both teams in the second match innings. The variation in averages between the two match innings is significantly higher in Adelaide than in any of the other major Test centers in Australia.

Variation in batting averages between match innings in Australia since 2000
Ground 1st match innings 2nd match innings Percentage variation
Adelaide Oval 47.4 24.9 47.4%
MCG 36.3 28.6 21.3%
The Gabba 37.0 29.1 21.2%
SCG 40.9 36.6 10.7%
W.A.C.A 33.9 40.0 -18.1%

The Adelaide Oval offers very high returns for batsmen who like to bat long periods. While it has witnessed 23 centuries since 2000, five of those occasions have seen, batsmen going past 200. All those double hundreds have come in the first innings and, on four of those occasions, in the first innings of the match - a compelling reason for the captain winning the toss to bat first. During this period only seven double-hundreds have been struck in all the other Australian Test grounds put together.

Hundreds and double hundreds at major Australian grounds since January 2000
  Number of 100s  % contribution to 100s in Australia  Number of 200s   % contribution to 200s in Australia  % of 100s converted into 200s
 Australia overall 130  100.0%  12  100.0%  9.2% 
Adelaide Oval  23  17.7%  41.7%  21.7% 
W.A.C.A  17  13.1%  16.7%  11.8% 
MCG  18  13.8%  16.7%  11.1% 
SCG  33  25.4% 25.0%  9.1% 
The Gabba  21  16.2%  0.0%  0.0% 
Bellerive Oval  6.9%  0.0%  0.0% 

Australia's batsmen have excellent records at the Adelaide Oval and will look forward to another run-feast. Michael Hussey tops the averages, aided by three not-outs, while Ricky Ponting has five centuries and an equal number of fifties here. Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin will also have fond memories of their hundreds in Adelaide. West Indies on the other hand will hope that the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan (if he plays) can improve on their past showings here. Chris Gayle will be playing at this venue for the first time.

Current Australia and West Indies batsmen in Adelaide
  Innings Runs  Average  50s/100s
 Ricky Ponting 23  1377  62.6  5/5 
 Michael Hussey 407  135.7  3/1 
 Michael Clarke 380  96.0  0/3 
 Brad Haddin 169  169.0  0/1 
 Simon Katich 129  43.0  1/0 
 Dwayne Bravo 98  49.0  1/0 
 Ramnaresh Sarwan 78  39.0  1/0 
 Shivnarine Chanderpaul 57  14.5  0/0 

Although a batting paradise, Adelaide has also been among the more spin-friendly surfaces in Australia. Spin has accounted for over 35% of the dismissals here, a ratio topped in Australia by only the SCG. Nathan Hauritz, Suleiman Benn and Chris Gayle will look forward to exerting more influence on the proceedings than they did at the Gabba, which is the worst venue for spinners in the country. Dwayne Bravo will look to repeat his form from the 2005 Test where he picked six wickets.

Pace v spin at major Australian Test venues in recent times
  Pace Spin Mixture/Unknown Percentage of spin dismissals
Australia overall  1043  488  37 31.1%
SCG  183  136 4  42.1%
Adelaide Oval  155  89 8 35.3%
MCG  174  75 10  29.0%
W.A.C.A  197  59 10 22.2%
The Gabba  206  54  4  20.5%

Another striking feature about the Adelaide Oval is that it is an excellent venue for Test cricket. Of the nine Tests played here since 2000, seven went into the final day's play, while only one ended in a draw. This, despite the fact that even all-time greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath have failed to make an impression the first innings. That the mighty Australian side of the 2000s routinely failed to enforce early results here speaks volumes about the surfaces which have managed to be batsman-friendly and result-oriented at the same time.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

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Nitin Sundar Social media manager Nitin spent his formative years perfecting the art of landing the googly, before blossoming into a book-cricket specialist. More excellence followed in the underarm version of the game before, like the majority of India's misguided youth, he started taking studies seriously. After four forgettable years of electrical engineering, followed by a rigorous MBA and 16 months in the strategy consulting industry, he began to ponder life's more profound issues. Such as the angle made by Brian Lara's bat with the horizontal at the peak of his back-lift. A move to ESPNcricinfo followed and Nitin is now a prolific nurdler in office cricket, with a questionable technique against the short ball.
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