Windies ready to gamble
West Indies will "gamble" in their pursuit of a drought-breaking victory against an Australian side that no longer revels in pressure situations. Those were the bullish sentiments expressed by David Williams, West Indies' interim coach, after an engrossing fourth day of the Adelaide Test during which the tourists' batsmen subdued Australia's bowlers to place themselves within reach of a famous win.
West Indies will discuss overnight whether or not to bat the Australians out of the game on Tuesday, however Williams believes enough runs were already on the board. History supports his argument - only once, in 1902, has a team scored more in the fourth innings to win at the ground - and the prospect of both teams aggressively pursuing victory is a tantalising prospect.
"We know for a fact that the Australians don't like to be under pressure," said Williams, proving Tim Nielsen isn't the only coach in this match prepared to engage in psychological warfare. "It's a pressure sport, especially when there is a Test match and a Test series up for grabs.
"We're going to probably sit tonight and come up with a decision whether we feel we need more runs or if we're just going to call it quits and bowl from the start tomorrow. I think it's enough runs, that's my personal view, but again a discussion must take place with the captain and some of our senior players and we'll take it from there."
A scare was thrown into the West Indian camp late on Monday when Sulieman Benn, their five-wicket hero from the first innings, was struck on the foot by a searing Mitchell Johnson yorker. Benn received treatment on the field for several minutes, raising fears that he might have sustained a serious injury.
Williams, though, was confident his frontline spinner would not be troubled by the blow, and would again prove a handful turning out of the footmarks. "He bowled extremely well in the first innings to take five wickets and he's going to be a force to be reckoned with tomorrow," Williams said. "He's alright. It's a little bit swollen, but with some ice and some rest he should be alright for tomorrow. I don't think [it's a break]. He's walking pretty well so I don't think it's going to be a problem tomorrow."
Johnson was also wary of the threat posed by Benn on a wearing, fifth day pitch. He anticipated the Australians would push for victory, rather than attempt to save the match, on a pitch that is proving difficult for scoring once the ball softens. "Down the middle of the wicket is pretty good but there are a few footmarks out near the edges so maybe, hopefully, they'll be a bit too wide for the right-handers and be spinning away and won't be too much trouble," Johnson said. "[Benn] is obviously on a high at the moment. They bowled pretty well in that first innings. Kemar Roach was outstanding. I guess it just depends on seeing how Benn bowls out there again."
Williams, too, expects the Australians to take an aggressive mindset to the crease on Tuesday in their bid to secure the Frank Worrell Trophy. Not content with merely competing on the final day, Williams insists victory will not only go far to restoring confidence within his team, but also silencing the many West Indies' critics.
"This Test match is going to be very important for us," he said. "We don't want to go to Perth still one-down so we're going to do everything in our power to try and win this one. We may take a gamble at times but this Test match is very important for us.
"Before we came to Australia there were a lot of critics and people said a lot of ill things about the team, but I think this performance is probably going to change some of those minds. Hopefully we can go on and win the match."
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo