Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, Perth 2nd day

Lillee laps up larruping Gayle

Brydon Coverdale in Perth

December 17, 2009

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The ball is returned after Chris Gayle hit it on to the roof of the Lillee-Marsh stand, Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, Perth, 17 December, 2009
One of Chris Gayle's sixes was so massive that the ball had to be retrieved from the Lillee-Marsh stand © Getty Images
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Cheering the enemy, part one
It's hard to believe that Dennis Lillee would ever cheer for West Indies but as he watched Chris Gayle compile the fifth-fastest Test century of all time, Lillee was a happy man. In his current role as the president of the WACA, Lillee is the figurehead of the Western Australia team, which has signed Gayle for this summer's Twenty20 Big Bash. "I must admit I was barracking for him a little bit there. I'm an Aussie, but I was barracking for him," Lillee said. "This is very exciting not only for Western Australia but I think it's very exciting for cricket going forward, that we can use this format of bringing in a great player, an iconic player as they call it, from outside and having him implanted in the team to have him as part of your side." And as Lillee finished his sentence, the roars went up around the WACA as Gayle hit one of two consecutive sixes off Nathan Hauritz.

Cheering the enemy, part two
After an innings like Gayle's it's only natural for the opposition to be polite and pay some credit. So there was nothing unexpected about Marcus North noting that Gayle struck the ball well and had clearly kept up his good form from Adelaide. But a few eyebrows were raised when North said: "Hopefully he can continue that form". What? Oh wait, there was more to the sentence: "... for the Warriors in the Big Bash after Christmas". Ah yes, North is the captain of Western Australia.

Stuck in the 50s, part one
Australia almost broke a 33-year-old record but Ricky Ponting's declaration meant it wasn't to be. The highest Test innings total without a centurion is the 9 for 524 scored by India against New Zealand in Kanpur in November 1976. After Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Michael Hussey, Marcus North and Brad Haddin were all dismissed between 68 and 99, Australia looked certain to break the record as the scored moved along to 6 for 520. Alas, the loss of Johnson prompted a declaration from Ponting, four runs short of the record.

Stuck in the 50s, part two
The failure of any Australian batsman to reach triple-figures continued a remarkable trend that has been present all series. Fifteen times during the series Australian batsmen have reached a half-century but nobody has yet gone on to post a hundred. In the meantime, West Indies have had three centuries, from Adrian Barath, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle, who added the fourth later in the day.

Red-faced Ricky
Ponting isn't the sort of man to give up easily and on the first day he was determined not to retire hurt after suffering a nasty blow to the elbow off Kemar Roach. At least, not until Roach had finished his spell - he didn't want to give the bowler the satisfaction. In the end, Ponting did retire hurt and on the second morning he revealed that the assistant coach Justin Langer didn't let him forget it. "He'd written a couple of notes on the whiteboard in the change-room when I came off," Ponting said on ABC radio. "We've had a bit of a running battle over the years about little things like that. I was pretty embarrassed walking off the ground yesterday but I had to do what I had to do. I could have kept batting yesterday, but I just wouldn't have been able to hit the ball off the square."

Almost a Billy club
The umpire Billy Bowden was almost involved in a physical episode when he nearly decapitated Ravi Rampaul. Rampaul was running in to bowl but the batsman Haddin was distracted by movement at the sightscreen and backed out, and Bowden thrust his left arm out to halt the bowler. As it turned out he nearly punched the bowler, who was almost level with the umpire and had to duck to avoid a clobbering.

The good, the bad and the ugly
Clint McKay's first over in Test cricket resembled something out of a film starring his namesake Eastwood. His first delivery was slashed away for four through cover point by Gayle and his last ball was pulled over midwicket for another boundary. But in between those blows, McKay beat the outside edge twice and forced Gayle to leave and defend the other two balls.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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