March 16, 2012

Will West Indies rise to the Australian challenge?

West Indies have lost 12 ODIs in a row against Australia, and their only wins in home ODIs over the last two years have been in dead rubbers

By the time the five-match ODI series between West Indies and Australia concludes on March 25, the two teams will have played 130 one-day internationals against each other, which will be the second-highest number of matches between two teams, next only to the 134 between India and Sri Lanka. That number reflects the history between those two teams, who've played out some epic matches in the past, including the World Cup final in 1975 and the semi-final in 1996. What it doesn't show, though, is how that rivalry has fallen away over the last decade (as indeed has almost every rivalry involving West Indies).

In the early days, it was a contest dominated by West Indies. They beat Australia in their first two meetings, in the 1975 World Cup and then again twice in the 1983 edition. However, the West Indian dominance over Australia was best illustrated by their results in the triangular tournaments in Australia. In the 1980s, West Indies were easily the biggest draw in world cricket, and hence the most regular visitors to Australia for the one-day tournaments there. Between 1981 and 1990, they toured Australia five times for these triangular tournaments, and lifted the cup four times, missing out only in 1987, when England were the winners. In these five tournaments they played Australia as many as 36 times, winning 25 and losing ten. They included fearful hidings by a 6-1 margin in 1984, and by 7-1 the following year.

In the 1990s, Australia gradually began to even the scores. In 1991 they toured the West Indies and achieved an unprecedented 4-1 result in the ODI series. It was the first time West Indies had lost a one-day series at home. Apart from that, there were also crucial wins for Australia in the 1996 and 1999 World Cups.

Most ODIs between two sides
Team 1 Team 2 Matches T1 won T2 won Tie/ NR
India Sri Lanka 134 71 51 1/ 11
Pakistan Sri Lanka 127 75 47 1/ 3
Australia West Indies 125 63 57 2/ 3
Australia New Zealand 124 85 34 0/ 5
Pakistan India 120 69 47 0/ 4
West Indies Pakistan 120 66 52 2/ 0

Since 2000, though, the tables have turned on West Indies completely. In 33 matches they've lost 26 and won just five. In fact, till October 31, 2006, West Indies were still in front by a 57-51 margin. Since then, though, they've lost each of their 12 completed matches against Australia to go from six in front to six behind. Which also means that the last time they beat Australia in an ODI was on October 18, 2006, in a Champions Trophy game in Mumbai, when they edged a ten-run win. Since then, they've lost two Champions Trophy matches, a World Cup game, a five-match home series, and four matches in Australia. (Click here for the list of ODI results between Australia and West Indies.)

Of the five wins that West Indies have managed against Australia since 2000, three have been at home, which should offer some encouragement to them ahead of the five-match series, but all three were in dead rubbers in the seven-match series in 2003.

ODIs between Australia and West Indies over the decades
Period Matches Aus won WI won Tie/ NR
Till Dec 1989 53 17 35 1/ 0
1990s 39 20 17 1/ 1
2000 onwards 33 26 5 0/ 2
Overall 125 63 57 2/ 3

West Indies have been a pretty poor ODI team since the beginning of 2000 (they haven't done a whole lot better in Tests), and, not unexpectedly, Australia have dominated them more than any other side.

Since 2000, West Indies have won more ODIs than they've lost against only two sides (among those against whom they've played more than ten matches): Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Against all other sides they've lost more, in varying degrees. Australia have been among the most difficult oppositions for their batsmen and bowlers: the West Indian batsmen have scored four centuries against them in 324 innings, and average less than 25 runs per dismissal. The bowlers haven't had it easy either, conceding more than 40 per wicket and almost five-and-a-half runs to the over.

West Indies versus each team in ODIs since Jan 2000
Opposition Matches W/ L Ratio Bat ave/ RR Bowl ave/ ER
Zimbabwe 35 25/ 9 2.77 34.28/ 4.94 23.66/ 4.14
Bangladesh 17 11/ 4 2.75 36.54/ 4.95 20.41/ 4.15
England 25 10/ 13 0.76 31.30/ 5.04 29.35/ 5.06
India 43 17/ 25 0.68 31.92/ 5.07 34.53/ 5.27
Pakistan 30 10/ 20 0.50 26.57/ 4.63 28.41/ 4.59
Sri Lanka 18 5/ 11 0.45 25.86/ 4.54 34.35/ 4.96
New Zealand 26 5/ 16 0.31 26.07/ 4.69 36.36/ 5.19
South Africa 33 6/ 26 0.23 27.70/ 4.79 44.71/ 5.23
Australia 33 5/ 26 0.19 24.04/ 4.74 41.84/ 5.44

Going into this home series against Australia, it's also clear that West Indies haven't made the most of the advantage of playing in familiar conditions either. They've won only 14 out of 51 home games against the top sides, and even that's a bit inflated: their last four ODI wins at home have all been in dead rubbers, when they won the last two matches against Pakistan and India after losing the first three and the series. Their last win in a live series at home was 16 matches ago, against India in 2009.

Australia will clearly start off as favourites, but they have a few battles of their own, with injuries and a hectic schedule suggesting that some of their players may not be at their best. They won the CB Series at home but struggled throughout against Sri Lanka - the batting was inconsistent and the bowlers were exposed by Sri Lanka's aggression and intent. Can Dwayne Bravo and Co do the same in home conditions over the next ten days?

Teams in home ODIs since Jan 2005 (against top teams only*)
Team ODIs W/ L Ratio Bat ave/ RR Bowl ave/ ER
India 87 57/ 26 2.19 39.74/ 5.69 32.14/ 5.38
South Africa 58 37/ 17 2.17 35.26/ 5.41 28.02/ 4.98
Australia 83 53/ 25 2.12 34.40/ 5.31 26.93/ 4.92
Sri Lanka 52 25/ 22 1.13 28.30/ 4.77 27.15/ 4.74
England 66 29/ 30 0.96 31.71/ 5.26 32.29/ 5.19
New Zealand 54 23/ 25 0.92 31.09/ 5.43 35.35/ 5.30
Pakistan 25 11/ 14 0.78 31.79/ 5.10 35.93/ 5.34
West Indies 51 14/ 35 0.40 28.00/ 4.94 35.52/ 5.20
* Excludes matches against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and other non-Test-playing teams

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    Two teams plying with a mix of mainly young players, and the result is still the same; now, mind you - the very first game of the second to last Ashes series seemed like if the Aussie Untouchables would again steamroll the Poms, eh! Need to view the entire series to understand if any of the changes wrought by the Windies were clear management policy! I believe that the Aussies will cream this Windies team, which remains this bad because the psychological makeup remains, obviously. Having Chris Gayle on the team only increases the mediocrity of the last two decades - wishing for individual effort to transform a TEAM is crazy and will NEVER work. Only when we have teams that are able to play every version of the game regionally on a regular basis, have junior and senior touring teams play here and abroad persistently, and create opportunity for selection that is based on merit arising from a set rubric of performance - then and only THEN will this region win anything in this sport again!

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2012, 21:31 GMT

    A timely article considering all the delusions going around in the caribbean right now. The notion that WI will miraculously become world beaters on including CG in the team has been shown to be completely false. CG in the team doesn't not garantee success(against strong opposition) as the stats have shown. Ironically on the last Caribbean tour in one of the matches(in Grenada) Aus. scored 213 and WI were all out for 140. Kind of similar to the 1st ODI score

  • Tomislav on March 17, 2012, 20:50 GMT

    It's hard to see W.I winning without Gayle, Chanderpaul & Sarwan in the team. It's hard enough for W.I to win when they are IN the team. Gayle is a match winner & crowd puller. Until the Gayle issue is resolved West Indies cricket will move nowhere quickly.

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2012, 18:33 GMT

    It was sad to see our guys crumble the way they did, however the problem with west indies cricket is division, Every one is looking for they own interest and not coming together as one. we will start winning when we learn unity.

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    W I won't win a single match until they rid of that guy they call the captain, & the Board also. Bunch of jokers ha ha haaaaaaaaaaa.

  • Shorjail Ahmad on March 17, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    how can i ask question to Steven ????

  • Earl on March 17, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    In a similar situation like this match against Australia,Gayle would of given them a flying start or tried to bat as long as possible.The problem is that as soon as he gets out the others crumble.Looks at the strokes played to get out by most of the batsmen yesterday.If they were thinking properly they would of seen that they only needed 4 runs per over to win.We need batsmen Like Chanderpaul and Nash playing.These guys know how to preserve their wickets.Except Dwyane all the other batsmen were guilty of rash and poor strokes.Young Bravo was not running as hard as he should of been.This is pitful!!!

  • Dean on March 17, 2012, 10:22 GMT

    @ Garry Rubbas. You're right. Gayle's not at all the answer, but that's because he has absolutely nothing to do with the problem. The problems are far deeper, ranging from how the game's administered to personal grudges. But WI weren't losing with Gayle because of Gayle. Players weren't developing with him in the team all because of him. If only life were so easy and that black and white. His batting record is better than any WIndian to debut after him and continues to be so(Only DBravo could come close). His PROVEN ability is unmatched in WI. His side would lose despite him scoring a brutal 150 in an ODI. What motivation does a player have to perform when in such a weak team? The youngsters you speak of are grow adults. Their weak mindedness and vulnerability are not down to Gayle and makes you wonder, if they were so easily corrupted then are they players WI really wants? Gayle is neither the problem nor solution, but WI are certainly a much more threatening opposition with him in it

  • Randolph on March 17, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    There is no way that Australia will fail in the WI like England did, damn that'd be embarassing. Losing to WI and Pakistan and they still think they are #1 haha!

  • Alistair on March 17, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    @Gary Rubbas Harris . Nadeem1976 didn't say the west indies was winning with Gayle , he just was making the point that It's a more formidable side with him than without and I totally agree,and about the money thing, if u got fired from your job would u stay home and sulk when someone is offering you about 75% more than u were working for? Gayle might not be the answer but he's one reason I would turn on my TV when WI are playing.

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