WICB President's XI v Australians, Bridgetown, Day 1 April 2, 2012

Pacemen prosper on parched surface


Australians 81 for 2 (Watson 42, Clarke 11*, Ponting 8*) v WICB President's XI 201 (Dwayne Smith 62, Harris 4-22, Beer 4-41) Scorecard

Forty years since it ravaged the pitch for a Headingley Ashes Test, Fusarium or something very much like it appeared to have afflicted the surface for Australia's tour match against the WICB President's XI at the otherwise elegant Three Ws Oval in Barbados.

The national selector John Inverarity was a participant and a spin bowling beneficiary in that infamous 1972 match, won by England on a strip supposedly left almost devoid of grass by the aforementioned fungi.

At Cave Hill he was a quizzical lunchtime pitch inspector as the tourists' Test bowlers became acquainted with the kind of grassless, slow and spinning wickets they are likely to face in the Test series that begins on Saturday at Kensington Oval.

While they did not find much in the surface to enjoy, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Ben Hilfenhaus all bowled with purpose as they worked their way through the President's XI, Harris nipping out a quartet of local batsmen to build his case for inclusion in the first Test team.

The hosts were rounded up for 201, leaving the visitors to reach 81 for the loss of Ed Cowan and Shane Watson by the close.

Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer initially fared less successfully despite the slow spin on offer to them, claiming a wicket each but also subject to some free hitting by Dwayne Smith, Kieran Powell and Jason Holder.

Beer's flatter trajectory appeared to pose more problems on this surface for established batsmen, and Lyon was later to sit in discussion with the coach Mickey Arthur during the tea break after his first 12 overs went for 54 runs and the wicket of Kyle Corbin. Beer rolled up the tail and finished with four wickets.

There is some intrigue surrounding the shape of the pace attack, after Harris indicated that he did not think himself part of the best XI of the moment. Such a scenario would have Pattinson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle sharing seam-up duty with Watson, but Harris' swift and straight bowling in conditions redolent of last year's Sri Lanka tour demonstrated his likely usefulness in the Caribbean.

It was Harris who cut through the invitational batting after a soporific morning session, in which 58 runs were scrapped for the loss of Devon Smith. Hilfenhaus was the most unfortunate of the bowlers, twice the victim of dropped chances that robbed him of the wickets his accuracy warranted. Powell was turfed by Watson at third slip, before Nkrumah Bonner fenced outside off stump and the edge eluded Peter Nevill, nervous in his first match as an Australian gloveman.

Harris began his incisive afternoon spell by knocking out Powell's off stump, the batsman trying to drive a full delivery that moved back at him slightly. Bonner was beaten for pace when he tried to flick to midwicket and was lbw, and next ball Harris pinned Devon Thomas with another delivery whirring in at the stumps.

Carlton Baugh averted the hat-trick but made only 6 before he cuffed Siddle onto the stumps while trying to leave a delivery of searching line, and at 72 for 6 the Australians could glimpse an early turn at the batting crease. However Smith's 103-run stand with Holder offered some spine to the local innings, forcing Michael Clarke to revert to Harris after tea. He had Smith slicing to gully where Peter Forrest held a sharp chance, and Beer then teased out the rest.

Watson and Cowan had 20 overs to negotiate before the close, the former guiding Nelon Pascal's first ball to the third man boundary, and neither batsman looked particularly troubled until Cowan proffered a leading edge to Ryan Austin's off-break and was pouched at short cover. Watson was lbw to Pascal after a sustained appeal as the shadows lengthened. Greater challenges await in the Tests, on surfaces equally parched as this one.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on April 4, 2012, 0:13 GMT

    @Gordo85 - Neville is from Victoria & Wades's from Tassie! So you have a win/win situation! A good old Victorian boy MAY get a test (unlikey) & an ex-Tassie now Victorian stalwart who is a shoe-in barring injury. Why bother complaining?

  • Reuel on April 3, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    @Metman, The WI did the right thing in sending Darren Bravo back to play for TnT, he just didn't justify the decision by making any runs. @simonviller, i agree with your comment, devon thomas is a poor batsman, i think the WI need to re-instate Ramdin a head of baugh in the upcoming test series, I also think that Shane Dowrich is the future of wi cricket as far as wicket keeper batsmen go. He still has improvements to make, but that is to be expected because he is only 20, and has only played about 16 first-class matches, but the little that i've seen of his glove work and batting technique, he looks a good prospect.

  • Bryn on April 3, 2012, 16:46 GMT

    is say we go in with just siddle and lyon and beer. lion heart pete the best bowler on the planet would do the job

  • chris on April 3, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    Harris Siddle Hilfy Lyon will do.

  • Gordon on April 3, 2012, 14:16 GMT

    Wade is rested and I guess so he should be rested since he has been playing Cricket for Australia now for some time and you wouldn't want him to burn out. However I am very concerned that this has happend because it wouldn't suprise me if Nevill does make some runs in the Tour game and then he may have better form than Wade and believe me Cricket Australia would do there best to avoid Wade playing Test Cricket in anyway. Cricket Australia can be very crule and not kind as it has been for a long time now. Surely Wade will play in the First Test because they said he would play and if they go back on there words then they will look like total drop outs. If Wade doesn't play in the First Test I won't even consider going for Australia again for along time even though at the moment I am still not a fan of Australian when it comes to Cricket. I just find it funny how Victorians mostly all the time only play ODI's and not Test cricket so much.

  • Ali on April 3, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    Truth be told, the batsmen Harris and Beer got out, aren't worth much ....

  • Dummy4 on April 3, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    The key to the test series is how the Windies batsmen will cope with the Aussie bowlers and if this warm-up is anything to go by, then it doesn't bode well. But it's good to see some things don't change, Devon Smith getting lbw'd to a spinner, clearly suggests that he struggles against them and if he hasn't overcome that flaw by now, then he never will. And Devon Thomas batting at five?...the few times i've seen him, he looks correct enough, but doesn't look anywhere ready for this level. He should be introduced slowly against the lower half of the rankings-opposition like Zim, Bangla and NZ. I appreciate that the Board want a future-Keeper for the next generation of players, then maybe they should look at Fletcher or Simmons to focus more on their glovework and what has happenned to Chadwick Walton?

  • Michael on April 3, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    @ Simonviller ! Well said !....and to think he is playing in this team as a batsman !and to make matters worse ,ahead of Dwayne Smith at that ! Glad the selectors realised the folly of naming F.Edwards for this match.....must have realised by now that instead of sending Darren Bravo back to represent TnT,they could have named him for this match in order to get some adequate batting practice against those same bowlers he is going to face in the tests.However,we all know why he was sent to represent TnT,and every body saw how that plan backfired,not once but twice !

  • kieran on April 3, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    @ Meety, Harris in for my mine; he bowled excellently on similar pitches in SL & Patto is just coming back with no form to speak of. Make the most of the old fellas before the youngsters take over I say. Forrest is a good back up but I don't see him getting his baggy green just yet.

  • andrews on April 3, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    You'd think a cricinfo writer could get ONE WORD into an article before getting it completely wrong. Still it's not as bad as your early effort on Australia's previous tour, when in your preview of the Cape Town test you told us that Australia and South Africa were equal in Test wins at the ground since SA's return to Test cricket. Woeful. And so is the lack of a scorecard. What is going on? This is a much more important game than any in the IPL, where cricinfo will take much more care to get it right. We finish this: hilarious. The best that can be said about O'Keefe is that he can bat. 9 wickets at 52 in the last shield season, and lucky to have those figures. Beer is a far better bowler of the same type, but Lyon's efforts so far have been excellent for an inexperienced spinner.

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