Australia deserve 5-0 success
For the first time since first playing against Australia in 1930/1, in Australia, the West Indies were "white washed" by Australia, 5-0. The Australians finally put them out of their misery, after toying with the West Indies until 2:01pm Sydney time, 21 minutes after the luncheon break, to win by 6 wickets.
This follows on the dismal touring history of the West Indies, starting in 1997, when they were beaten 3-0 in a 3-Test series in Pakistan, then 1998, when they were beaten 5-0 in a 5-Test in South Africa, then 1999, when they were beaten 2-0 in a 2-Test series in New Zealand.
In England, in 2000, the West Indies did manage to win the first Test, drawing the third, but lost the series 3-1.
That makes a final tally of 18 of the last 20 Tests that the West Indies have lost while touring in the last four year, while drawing one and winning one. It has been a truly dismal display by the West Indies on international tours recently.
Although the final day started with Australia on 44-2, still needing another 129 to win the game, the match was more or less won, and lost, again, when Australia got their highest score of the series; 452. This included the second consecutive century by the durable captain, Steve Waugh, his 24th overall, and especially Adam Gilchrist.
Gilchrist was badly dropped by the West Indies captain, Jimmy Adams, before he had scored. In the end, Gilchrist's 87, and the partnerships it allowed, was the difference between the West Indies and the Australian first innings scores, the West Indies making 272 after a very promising start by Sherwin Campbell and Wavell Hinds.
With that deficit of 180 ahead of them, the West Indies again made a promising start: the openers putting on 98 runs before being parted. Then the middle order fell away, and it was only due to some energetic batting from Ramnaresh Sarwan, Ridley Jacobs and Mahendra Nagamootoo, each getting a half-century, that the West Indies managed 352 in their second innings, an overall lead of 172. That was never going to be enough.
At the end of the penultimate day of the series, Australia had reached 44-2 due to some very adventurous batting from opener Michael Slater, who was 18 not out, but looking as if he wanted to end the game with every stroke, and Mark Waugh, not out on 3.
Before that, Matthew Hayden had padded-up to a Colin Stuart in-swinger that was headed for the middle stump and was out lbw for 5.
Then, Justin Langer went the same way, to Courtney Walsh, when the bowler got a delivery to keep somewhat low. Langer out for 10, Australia in some bother at 38-2 after 6.2 overs.
Obviously, the West Indies would have wanted some early breakthroughs on the final day, and they got one almost immediately.
With only two runs added to the overnight 44-2, Mark Waugh, without adding to his overnight score, sparred at a Nixon McLean delivery, in the second over of the day, a delivery which bounced more than the batsman anticipated, and the catch was easily taken by Jimmy Adams at gully; the score on 46-3.
Almost immediately afterwards, with Slater on 25, in the fourth over, he was dropped, a hard chance, by the bowler following through to a hard straight drive.
With the score on 84-3, Steve Waugh, who had replaced his brother, then 11 not out, survived a confident appeal for a catch at the wicket from a Walsh off-cutter, umpire Darryl Hair negating the appeal.
The 50 partnership between Steve Waugh and Michael Slater soon came up in 64 minutes from 91 balls, then Slater's second half-century of the game also came up, made from 89 deliveries from 136 minutes of batting and including six thunderous fours.
It was 100-3 in 26.5 overs, and no real trouble coming from the West Indies bowlers.
In McLean's 8th over, Slater really exploded, slashing and slogging 13 runs in that over.
The 100 partnership between Steve Waugh and Michael Slater soon came up, in an electrifying 99 minutes from 147 balls.
Then, with the score on 148, Steve Waugh was also out lbw, a Marlon Samuels delivery keeping low and hitting the Australian captain in front of the middle stump. Waugh lbw for 38.
Lunch was taken with the Australians 154-4, just 19 runs required then to win the game and complete the "white wash". At lunch, Slater was 75 not out and Ricky Ponting, having just survived a very confident appeal for lbw from Mahendra Nagamootoo, was 5 not out.
These two prolonged the agony until 2:01pm Sydney time, when Ponting hit Samuels through mid-wicket for the winning run. Australia had won convincingly, by 6 wickets, and taken the series 5-0, for the first time ever.
Coach John Buchannan paid tribute to his men: "These guys have much talent, but their greatest asset if the ability to tough things out psychologically, and to come back fighting when things seem down. They deserve great credit for their efforts in this series, collectively."
Jimmy Adams was philosophical about his future as the West Indies captain. "I will have to sit down, some time in February, after this tour is complete and assess the situation of how I feel then. I take every tour on its own merit, so we shall see how things go. I think that I would like to continue, but I will say that this tour to Australia is a tough challenge."
In addition to retaining the Frank Worrell Trophy won in 1995, in the Caribbean, Australia also made a clean sweep of all of the inaugural trophies and awards, celebrating the 1960/61 series.
The Man of the Series was Glenn McGrath, with his 21 wickets. The Man of the Match was Michael Slater for his 96 and 86 not out. The winner of the (Sir) Garfield Sobers award for outstanding batting for the series was Steve Waugh, who made 349 from only 4 matches, including two centuries, averaging 69.80.
Mark Waugh won the Joe Solomon Trophy as the outstanding fieldsman of the series. He took 11 catches, some of them almost miraculous.
Glenn McGrath also won the Norman O'Neill Trophy for Outstanding Performances: he had figures of 33-21-27-10 in the first Test at Brisbane.
Jason Gillespie, who had 20 wickets, from 4 Tests, averaging 18.40, won the Alan Davidson Award, for the outstanding bowler of the series.
Australia were easily the better side in this series. They deserve all of their successes.