February 7, 2001

Chasm between Australia and West Indies revealed again

The first final of the Carlton Series provided little difference from the usual whitewash that Australia have effected so far this season on both the West Indies and Zimbabwe in the preliminary games. At least the Aussies had to work hard for their runs, and there was even some imagination and aggression from the West Indies captain, with his team following suit, bowling and fielding well.

Ian Harvey
Man of the Match Ian Harvey
Photo CricInfo

The West Indies strangely elected to allow Australia to bat first on a slowish pitch, which had some bounce. To begin with the West Indies plan worked, as Cameron Cuffy and Nixon McLean bowled straight and fast, restricting Australia to 28-1 from the first 10 overs.

Before that, though, Mark Waugh should have been run out, except that Mahendra Nagamootoo, at the non striker's end, could not collect an excellent throw from Sylvester Joseph, fielding at cover point.

Fortunately for the West Indies, Waugh did not last much longer, being easily caught by Brian Lara at slip off Cuffy, for 10. Ricky Ponting showed his intentions immediately by pulling Cuffy for six over mid-wicket, then advancing to Laurie Williams to hit him through cover point for four.

The West Indies enthusiasm continued apace, and by the 30th over Australia had managed just 136-3. Wickets fell at regular intervals, while the runs trickled on, and the West Indies seemed to be upping their game considerably from what had been seen previously in the tour.

Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting
Photo CricInfo

Eventually there were good contributions from Ian Harvey, with 47 from 33 deliveries, Steve Waugh, 38 from 49, Ricky Ponting, 33 from 50, while Adam Gilchrist, at the top of the order, made 44. Through a dogged effort, the Australians managed 253-9 from their 50 overs. For the West Indies, the best bowler was Cuffy, who had 2-45 from 10 overs, while Laurie Williams had 2-55 from his 10 overs.

So the West Indies simply had to make 254 from their 50 overs, at a rate of 5.08, to upset the odds and win the first final of the 2000/1 Carlton Series. That was never going to be easy, but their start was horrendous, with both openers, Ridley Jacobs and Darren Ganga, back in the dressing rooms before a run was on the scoreboard. Ganga was given out LBW when he had actually hit the ball, but the rest of the batting, except Brian Lara, just looked as if they were in another game, in another world.

Lara seemed to have a running battle with Michael Bevan, which got the left-hander into a dangerous mood. Lara's first three strokes were boundaries, more lashes than finessed strokes, but the results were the same anyway. With Marlon Samuels, he took the score to 58 before Lara was brilliantly caught by wicket-keeper Adam Gilcrist, diving low and wide, in front of first slip, off a wide Fleming delivery. Lara had made an aggressive 35, but that was that as far as the West Indies were concerned.

Jimmy Adams came and went quickly, and soon, Samuels was also run out, and the West Indies were 77-6 from 22 overs. In the end, they could only muster 119 from 37.2 with only three batsmen, Lara, Samuels and Sylvester Joseph making double figures. It really goes from bad to worse. The large crowd did not even witness the West Indies make at least half of the required runs, the visitors losing by a mammoth 134 runs.

The man of the match was Ian Harvey, with his 47 from 33 deliveries, and 2-5 from 6 overs.

So Australia have breezed through the first of the best of three finals. The second final of the Carlton Series is in Melbourne in two days' time, on Friday 9th February. Unless the West Indies do tremendously better, they will have nothing to take back home.