Walsh back in action in Alice Springs
ALICE SPRINGS, NT - World record holder Courtney Walsh will begin his final cricketing tour today when he boosts a struggling West Indies in a one-day match against a Northern Territory Invitation XI here.
Walsh has been rested since arriving in Australia last week, watching the Windies crash to a seven-wicket loss to Western Australia in their opening first-class match in Perth.
But the 38-year-old has been named for today's match at Traeger Park, leading an attack including likely Test partners Nixon McLean, Mervyn Dillon and Marlon Black.
The Windies have questioned the value of the one-day game just nine days before the first Test at the Gabba, preferring another first-class fixture to prepare.
"But what do you do. This is just a sign of the times I suppose and we have to play the matches we get," captain Jimmy Adams said.
The Windies have a final four-day hitout against Victoria, starting at the MCG on Friday when Walsh and star batsman Brian Lara headline a Test-strength team.
Tour officials wanted Walsh to play only one lead-up match, saving his best for the daunting task of stopping the record-breaking Australians in the five-match Test series.
Walsh was considered unlikely to return to Australia for a fifth Test tour until he decided against quitting when his longtime new ball partner Curtly Ambrose retired following the disastrous tour of England.
Walsh said it would be unfair on West Indian cricket to lose two great players at the same time, prompting his decision to press on towards 500 Test wickets.
He needs another 17 wickets to reach the milestone and he is expected to push well beyond the mark if he makes good on his promise to play the home series against South Africa next year.
Walsh has indicated that will be the end of a Test career which began 16 years ago on the WACA Ground in Perth among the most feared team in Test history.
He won't have an easy job today against a handy Northern Territory team, led by Test batsman Ricky Ponting.
The home team features Damien Fleming, Michael Di Venuto, Darren Berry and Brad Hodge while a bunch of Territory players have also been invited.
All-rounder Jarrod Wapper is the only Alice Springs-based player while batsmen Shaun Williams and Stuart Johnstone, pacemen Brett Wilson and Daniel Senior and all-rounder Ken Vowles are based in Darwin.
The match will be umpired by Steve Davis and his Darwin-based brother Stuart.
NORTHEN TERRITORY CRICKET ASSOCIATION INVITATION XI: Ricky Ponting (capt), Damien Fleming, Darren Berry, Michael Di Venuto, Brad Hodge, Daniel Marsh, Stuart Johnstone, Daniel Senior, Ken Vowles, Jarrod Wapper, Shaun Williams, Brett Wilson.
WEST INDIES: Jimmy Adams (capt), Daren Ganga, Brian Lara, Wavell Hinds, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Ridley Jacobs, Marlon Black, Mahendra Nagamootoo, Mervyn Dillon, Nixon McLean, Courtney Walsh.