Nash provides a sting in the tail
Bennett King, John Dyson, Brendan Nash - the Australian influence in the West Indies camp over the past few years has been conspicuous, if not always successful. The reigns of King and Dyson as the past two coaches provided mixed results at best, but Nash has so far been a winner in shoring up the middle order since moving from Queensland two years ago.
His 92 in Adelaide left him with a solid average of 38.37 from his 11 Tests and as the team's No. 6, he has often had to forge important partnerships with the bowlers. Steve Waugh trusted his tail-end colleagues to survive and they improved so much that Jason Gillespie scored a Test double-hundred, and Nash has consciously tried to bring a similar approach to the West Indies lower order.
Their efforts have been rewarded; against England in February this year, it was only through dogged lower-order resistance at St John's that West Indies held on for the draw that allowed them to win the series. On the second day in Adelaide their final three pairs added an invaluable 115 as Nash anchored the effort rather than assuming his partners would fail and therefore going for broke.
"That's something that I've brought to the team," Nash said. "I'm not the typical West Indian-style batsman, if you like, that maybe batting with the tail would look to press on and hit the ball in the air and that type of thing. I put some faith in the lower order and they responded quite well. I think that's how you get the best out of them and that showed today."
Nash arrived in the West Indies in 2007 after losing his state contract with Queensland and he found that in the Caribbean there wasn't a great history of expecting tailenders to make regular contributions. There were exceptions - Jerome Taylor scored a century in Nash's debut Test - but he was keen to see more consistent run-making from the bowlers.
"It was sort of seven-out all-out," he said. "Our bowlers always say that they can bat a little bit. I think they never really got given the opportunity. They've worked very hard, our lower order, on building partnerships if there's a batsman in there.
"That's something that we've talked about. They've worked hard in the nets and the coach has always stressed that. Don't give them an easy Test wicket, basically. The lower order took that on and put it into pretty good use today."
Nash combined with Sulieman Benn for a 44-run eighth-wicket stand and then with Ravi Rampaul in a highly entertaining 68-run final partnership that built on the 63-run combination between Nash and the allrounder Darren Sammy. The concentration of the lower-order men made it all the more frustrating for Nash that it was he himself who ended the innings when he missed a Mitchell Johnson ball that ducked back in.
"It was pretty disappointing not only for myself but for the team as well," Nash said of falling short of what would have been his second Test century. "Ravi was looking quite good there, the last-wicket partnership we would have liked to have pressed on a little bit. It was just one of those things in Test cricket - you don't focus for one ball and it's all over."
But it would have been all over far earlier had Nash not knuckled down to help the side to 451. He conceded he felt under pressure to deliver having kept his place in the side while Travis Dowlin, who impressed with his concentration at the Gabba, made way for the returning Ramnaresh Sarwan. It wasn't easy for Nash after he retired hurt on the first day, having been struck on the forearm by a rising ball.
"It was quite numb and painful," he said. "I couldn't grip the bat. It was in between the two bones in my arm so it was a tissue, muscle area. It was a little bit difficult [to bat today]. I couldn't really feel like I could grip the bat and put much power behind the shots, so that's why it was a lot of flicking and that type of thing, deflecting."
Almost inevitably, it was Johnson, his former flat-mate, who delivered the painful blow, but Nash won't hold it against him. "After the series I'm sure we're going to catch up and say hello and have a drink after the series," he said, "hopefully with a 2-1 win to us and the beer will taste sweeter."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo