Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day December 6, 2009

Watson wrecks chances of maiden century

Oh no, Watto
Even the most hardened of West Indies fans would have felt a pang of sympathy for Shane Watson. Resuming play just four runs short of his maiden Test century, Watson attempted to swipe the second ball of the day through midwicket, only for Sulieman Benn to breach his defences and hit the top of off stump. A disconsolate Watson kicked at the air and trudged from the field, aware that he had missed a prime opportunity join the Test centurion ranks. No word yet on whether Watson offered to assist the South Australian Cricket Association by bringing forward the planned demolition date of the Adelaide Oval dressing rooms.

No Siddle in the middle
Australia need to knock West Indies over cheaply in their second innings, so it was a concern for the home fans when Peter Siddle didn't take the field when Chris Gayle and Adrian Barath walked out to bat. Siddle had a tight hamstring and is no certainty to bowl on the fourth day, but Michael Hussey was confident he would take his place at some point. "I certainly hope so," Hussey said. "I think it was more precautionary tonight, just leave him out of tonight so his leg has got another 12 hours or so to try and give him a good go tomorrow. I'm pretty confident that he'll be out there tomorrow for us."

Conversion tables
Ricky Ponting has long emphasised the importance of batsmen converting 50s to 100s, but his calls have failed to inspire his troops of late. Of the last 12 Australian batsmen to pass the half-century mark, only one, Hussey at The Oval, has reached triple figures. Simon Katich is most culpable, having scored 80, 92 and 50 in his last three Tests, while Ponting himself has twice fallen short of a century after passing 50 in that time.

Wise Sulieman prediction
Prior to the Brisbane Test, the West Indies interim coach David Williams touted Benn a likely trump card for the three-Test tour. Benn may have possessed a Test average nudging 50, but Williams felt the bounce of Australian wickets would suit the 200cm Bajan against a batting line-up that has seldom looked comfortable facing quality finger spin. Having performed solidly in a losing cause at the Gabba, Benn arrived at Adelaide Oval with much to prove. And so it transpired. Watson, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, Marcus North and Siddle formed the hit-list for Benn's maiden five-wicket haul in Tests, handing West Indies a 12-run first-innings lead. The last time West Indies held a first-innings advantage on Australia was the Perth Test of 1996-97. They went on to win the match by ten wickets.

What are the odds?
Punters have taken a dim view of West Indies since their arrival on Australian shores. With the Australians two wickets down in pursuit of the tourists' first-innings total of 451, betting agencies were offering A$21 on West Indies breaking their nine-Test losing streak on Australian soil. That reduced to $17 at the fall of Ricky Ponting's wicket, and $7.50 by the time the tourists headed to stumps with an overall lead of 35 and all second-innings wickets intact.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo