Plays of the day December 16, 2009

Missed tons and dropped catches

Missed it by that much
Simon Katich posted his second 99 in a Test match and continued the theme of no Australian batsmen reaching a century in the series. After Katich swept Sulieman Benn to square leg and was caught, he trudged off the field with a blank expression. There was one man in the dressing room who could offer some sympathy: his opening partner Shane Watson was earlier out for 89, again denying him a maiden Test hundred after he was bowled for 96 in Adelaide. Katich's first Test 99 came in Nagpur in 2004.

The Roach approach
West Indies were talking up Kemar Roach as their big weapon for the WACA Test and he didn't disappoint with his aggressive manner. Ricky Ponting's second ball was a bouncer that hit him just above the left elbow and the next delivery thumped Australia's captain in the midriff. The blow to the arm caused some serious pain for the batsman, who needed four visits from the physio Alex Kountouris before he eventually retired hurt 40 minutes later. Scans revealed no bone damage and Ponting was expected to bat again later in the innings.

Windies drop the ball
Watson and Katich both demoralised West Indies on the opening day and both survived dropped chances that should have been taken. Watson was put down on 7 when Roach found an outside edge that was probably the wicketkeeper's catch, but Ramdin left it for the first slip Chris Gayle, who couldn't hold on. Katich's life came much later when he was on 82 and prodded Sulieman Benn to short leg, where Travis Dowlin fumbled and failed to snare the opportunity.

Debut, times two
There was always going to be one debutant in the match with Clint McKay confirmed on Tuesday as the replacement for the injured Peter Siddle. Australia could also have had a second cap presented with Steven Smith and Brett Geeves in the squad waiting to see if Nathan Hauritz recovered from a finger injury, which he did. But what wasn't expected was a West Indies debutant, with the fast man Gavin Tonge introduced to Test cricket at the expense of the allrounder Darren Sammy.

Tonge lashing
Tonge found that Test cricket can be a tough business, when his first spell of seven overs cost 35 runs. He was unfortunate to be on the wrong end of some fine strokes from Shane Watson, who pulled short deliveries to the boundary and drove hard and straight if the bowler overpitched. When Tonge returned for a second spell he didn't fare much better, once again going at five an over without success.

A flying trip
Smith's time in the Australian Test squad lasted less than 24 hours after he was called in as a cover player for Hauritz. Smith joined the team late on Tuesday night and spent the night wondering if he would make his Test debut in the morning, but Hauritz woke up with no ill effects from a knock to the finger he received at training on the day before the game. It meant there was no need for Smith to stay with the side and he was duly sent home to New South Wales so he could take part in the Sheffield Shield match against Victoria starting on Friday.

A hazy shade of summer
It's bushfire season in Australia and the players were greeted at the WACA by a smoky haze caused by two blazes in the south-west of Western Australia. However, the hazy covering wasn't enough to cause any problems to the match and it soon cleared to reveal a beautiful Perth day.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo