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December 8, 2009
Tony Cozier : From despair to euphoria
Report : Bravo West Indies, but Australia survive for draw
News : Ponting chases umpire views on reviews
News : When a draw feels like a victory
Matches: Australia v West Indies at Adelaide
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of Australia
From the highs of a Test series win against England to the crushing lows of the player strike and subsequent home losses to Bangladesh, it has been an emotion-filled 12 months for West Indies fans. The team's 2009 finishes with next week's third Test in Perth and all the pain, all the disenchantment, could be forgotten if Chris Gayle's men walk away with a 1-1 draw.
They can't beat Australia in the series, they can't regain the Frank Worrell Trophy, but they can restore much-needed pride after beginning the tour with a three-day loss at the Gabba. It was a result that many onlookers felt proved the series would be a flop, and even prompted the former Australia captain Kim Hughes to suggest West Indies be cut from the Test cricket family.
The redemption process began at Adelaide Oval, where Australia escaped with a draw but not without realising the eighth-ranked West Indies remain a threat. For most of the final day, the tourists were the only team with a realistic chance of victory and that has buoyed Gayle's side heading into the match at the WACA, where Australia have lost their past two Tests.
"We definitely can win in Perth," Gayle said. "There's no two ways about it. The way that we went about this game showed we have the capability of winning. It's up to us to have the same sort of determination to go out there and put up the same sort of fight we did in this game. Having said that, it's going to be tougher, I think the wicket there should be an even better one."
The fight that his team displayed in Adelaide should, for the time being at least, answer any questions about the squad's commitment to the five-day game. Questions have been raised about the state of West Indies cricket for several years and came to a head during the argument between the players and the board this year.
That conflict led to a substandard side being named for the home series against Bangladesh, although the one positive was that it gave Test experience to men like Kemar Roach and Travis Dowlin, who kept their places for this tour. A mixture of older and newer faces was brought together under Gayle and he was thrilled with how the group gelled, and forced Australia onto the defensive in Adelaide.
"I have to commend the fellows, the way we actually went about it, the effort was really, really good," Gayle said. "Kemar Roach kept running in, Bravo, Sammy, all the rest of the bowlers actually chipped in. It was really brilliant. And Benn in the first innings picking up his first five-wicket haul was very good, so there's a lot of positives to come out of this game.
"Since we got back in Australia as a group things have progressed really well and we're all looking out for each other. We just need a couple of wins under our belt to change things and take a bit of pressure off us."
Gayle led by example, carrying his bat for 165 in a Man-of-the-Match performance, and the only criticism came when he decided to bat on for half an hour on the final morning. It meant Australia would have to rewrite the record books for the highest fourth-innings chase in an Adelaide Test, but Gayle said he didn't regret his decision even though his bowlers ran out of time.
"We wanted to put ourselves in a position where we definitely know we can't lose the game," he said. "You have to take into consideration it's a small ground. But at the same time we didn't have nothing to lose. So we decided to bat about six overs and then we'd declare." Closing their innings overnight may not have changed the outcome, but their fighting attitude has enhanced the way West Indies will be viewed for the rest of their tour.
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