Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 5th day December 8, 2009

When a draw feels like a victory

Windies win in drawn Test
West Indies might not have won the Test, but they certainly won respect. The discipline of their pacemen and the desperation of their fieldsmen on the final day indicated that this was a team brimming with passion and desire; traits that had been evident only intermittently this year. The task from here is to prove that their performance at the Gabba, not the Adelaide Oval, was the anomaly. With their mocko jumbie-cum-spinner, Sulieman Benn, largely ineffective following a blow to the foot the previous day, Dwayne Bravo and Kemar Roach - the latter of whom regularly hit speeds in excess of 150kph - ruthlessly pursued the Australians, while Adrian Barath, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Bravo all claimed catches that would make any highlight reel. A summer slapped with the damp squib tag has unexpectedly come alive.

Crisis of confidence I
If one criticism could be made of the tourists, it was Chris Gayle's decision to bat on for the first half hour of Tuesday. Australia were already faced with a mammoth run chase at the conclusion of day four, and the move of Gayle to take the target well beyond 330 robbed his bowlers of time and Australia's batsmen of an incentive to push for victory. That it followed a final session on Monday in which the batsmen displayed little in the way of urgency will rankle with those who like their Test cricket with an aggressive edge. Undoubtedly, these were the tactics of a team lacking in confidence - and after the year that's been, who could blame them? - but they nonetheless denied the fifth day its full complement of drama.

Crisis of confidence II
Confidence, or lack thereof, proved a major issue for the Australians, too. Set a would-be ground-record target of 330 runs from 81 overs - an asking rate of just more than four per over - the hosts' effectively dropped anchor at the fall of just their second wicket and plotted course for a draw. Cocksure Australian teams of the past might have been more inclined to flirt with disaster in pursuit of glory, however this current side, fresh from a humbling Ashes defeat, can ill afford many more setbacks. The retention of the Frank Worrell Trophy, even with a draw, will be viewed as a pleasing result for a team with an increasingly bare mantelpiece.

Leg theory - version 2.0
Not all was conservative. With five Australian wickets to claim and time ticking away, Gayle experimented with an array of field settings that won't be found in the MCC handbook. At one stage, he trialled a configuration that could be best described as forward-of-square leg theory, placing four men between bat-pad and short mid-on with Bravo in operation. It didn't work, though not for lack of trying.

Odds weren't even
Tracking the bookmakers' odds on the final day was liable to make punters' seasick. West Indies blew in and out like the tide as punters fretted over the fall of each Australian wicket. Within seconds of Shane Watson falling to Darren Sammy, odds on a West Indies victory were slashed from $19 to $9, while the dismissal of Michael Hussey six overs later prompted the margins to plummet from $15 to $7.50.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo