West Indies v Australia, 1st Test, Bridgetown, 2nd day

A declaration of intent

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Darren Sammy and their colleagues tested Australia like they haven't been tested for some time

Daniel Brettig at Kensington Oval

April 8, 2012

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Darren Sammy drives down the ground for six, West Indies v Australia, 1st Test, Barbados, 2nd day, April 8, 2012
Darren Sammy showed the kind of attitude he wants to see from his team © Associated Press
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Not since March 2009 against England had West Indies enjoyed the luxury of declaring their first innings closed. Not since Sri Lanka, nine Test matches and more than six months ago, had Australia's cricketers been made to sweat in the field like this. In their contrasting styles the old and new of West Indies cricket, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Sammy, each found a way to enhance the visitors' sense of disorientation.

The Bridgetown pitch demanded a substantial first innings tally to do justice to its trueness of bounce and ease of pace, and after Kraigg Brathwaite, Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo had smoothed a path, Chanderpaul and Sammy made sure it was achieved. Their manner of doing so reflected the typical method of each batsman: Chanderpaul the ultimate survivor, Sammy the ebullient cameo artist. But they also demonstrated qualities in tune with the occasion, stretching Australia's patience and leaving their spin bowler Nathan Lyon, in particular, with plenty to ponder about his technique and mode of attack on these shores.

If Sammy's innings of 41 was no more substantial in volume than many of those he had previously played for West Indies, its manner was highly significant. Fairly bristling with attacking intent, and the confidence derived from his firm-handed contributions during the limited-overs matches that served as the entree to this series, Sammy advanced boldly towards the tourists at the fall of Carlton Baugh's wicket.

His first target was Lyon, who had to this point bowled tidily without impact on a surface that offered only a fraction of the spin he had found at the Three Ws Oval during the Australians' only tour match. Lyon has typically prospered via an enticing loop that finds the batsman short of the ball's pitch more often than not, but here Sammy leapt into him, pinging boundaries and a six over the bowler's head.

Still possessing the aggressive attitude that had launched his international career so successfully in Sri Lanka last year, Lyon did not shirk from tossing the ball high, but Sammy's attack narrowed focus on the bowler's apparent wrestle with his technique. In his approach to the wicket, the position of his front arm and the torque of his body action, Lyon gave Sammy little trouble picking his length and swinging accordingly. Turn was elusive, and while Lyon furnished his figures with a tail-end wicket, he spent most of the innings reminding locals more of Greg Matthews' destruction by Viv Richards and Richie Richardson on the 1991 tour than Lance Gibbs' feats in the 1960s and '70s. If that weren't unsettling enough, David Warner claimed the best figures of the innings, his leg breaks now less likely to carry the prefix "occasional".

Having forced Lyon's exit from the attack, Sammy turned next to Shane Watson, a commonly crafty operator on wickets offering little to others. Watson greeted his allround opposite number with a skidding bouncer that struck Sammy a fierce blow to the helmet, forcing its change. Now followed the most compelling passage of the day. Watson's next delivery was fuller, on off stump and inviting a cautious prod down the wicket. However Sammy, still somewhat dazed and destined to call for further treatment at the end of the over, chose now to be the right time to launch into the purest lofted straight drive for six, sending Kensington Oval into raptures and obliging Watson to resort to another bouncer and a Bollywood villain's stare next ball.

Having been looked over once again by the team physio, Sammy renewed his attack, forcing Watson to join Lyon in exiting the bowling crease, spanking him straight for four then depositing him uproariously into the Greenidge and Haynes Stand for six. Ben Hilfenhaus resorted to a less than edifying string of bouncers at a batsman who had suffered a blow to the head, but after one more straight six Sammy miscued a hook and was taken in the deep. His performance offered a staunch example of the attitude Sammy wants from his team, and he need only add a little more duration to his stays at the batting crease to become a bowling allrounder of genuine chops.

At the other end, Chanderpaul had simply done what he does, scratching his way to a substantial score via the legside nudges, third-man deflections and occasional forcing strokes that have driven all manner of international opponents - not to mention impatient spectators - to distraction. Apart from an lbw referral by Lyon when he was 85, Chanderpaul did not offer a chance for six-and-a-half hours, balls both good and bad treated without the merest trace of premeditation. Along the way he passed Brian Lara as the man to score the most Test runs at Kensington Oval, a marker of his persistence but also the commitment to the game that he had reasserted after Sammy and the coach Ottis Gibson sought to enlist him to their cause in 2010.

As the innings wound down, Chanderpaul's search for a 25th Test century was intertwined with another matter of some importance. Each ball the hosts kept Australia in the field would add to their fatigue when batting, and each run would enhance the hosts' chances of pressuring the visiting batsmen when their turn came to take the ball. Chanderpaul trusted the last man Devendra Bishoo, his fellow Guyanese, with a little of the strike, and was not harried into a risky single or an attempt to turn one into two. Clarke became as preoccupied with denying Chanderpaul as ending the innings, but his efforts to do both were thwarted: the 37-year-old former captain kissed the Bridgetown pitch and added a pesky 28 with Bishoo before Sammy called them in. Bishoo's innings meant that all 11 Caribbean batsmen had passed double figures for the first time in the region's history: a statistic to warm hearts.

Trudging off after 153 overs of sobering Caribbean reality, Clarke's team was weary but also a little more worldly-wise. Over the next three days, and the next three weeks, they must find ways of blunting Chanderpaul, and of sapping Sammy's enthusiasm before it filters completely through his team. The second day of the Barbados Test made these two tasks appear far more vexing than many might have predicted. Having given West Indies a foothold, Australia must locate the kind of resourcefulness not required in quite some time to prise them out.

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

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Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (April 9, 2012, 21:30 GMT)

Australia continue to slide further. They should have been 130-5, Clarke clearly edged it but got very lucky. How can they continue to pick Lyon, a 'spinner' who doesn't turn the ball (like every other Aussie spiner post-Warne)? With England's bowling unit consistently the most dominant attack for the last few years, how can Australia expect to compete in next years' Ashes with their current bowling line-up?

Posted by   on (April 9, 2012, 18:21 GMT)

Its good to see the WI applying themselves.Australia should have held their chances which would have swung the game in their favor.Its gonna be a rather interesting next 3 days,will the efforts of the underdogs suffice ? or will the Aussies bounce back and take back control and come out on top.Either way Test match cricket remains as the true 'test'.

Posted by delboy on (April 9, 2012, 16:01 GMT)

@VivGilchrist a little premature but you may be right. AUS will bat once; in their second inning. It looks like they are enjoying a net at the moment.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (April 9, 2012, 15:49 GMT)

Great prediction RandyOz....at least you got more than 47

Posted by RandyOZ on (April 9, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

Haha poms are hilarious, this is a better WI attack than when they got rolled for 51.

Posted by matty_martin on (April 9, 2012, 14:27 GMT)

@ andrew-schulz. The opening line in the article referred to the Windies. The second line correctly quoted this test as being the 9th test for Australia since SL scored 400+ in Colombo. The author was correct. You really need to read (and comprehend) articles properly before rubbishing others on these forums. Glad the Windies batted as well as they did but I don't see either being able to force a win on this pitch.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2012, 13:11 GMT)

It's a given that the game will end up in a draw. They batted way too slowly on a road of a pitch, Aussies will make 500+ in half the time, and Windies will bat out the draw.

Posted by Pakistanvictorious on (April 9, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

Dear fans', batting out 157 overs against a decent Australian attack is itself a great achievement. We should not forget WI are famous for collapses but now they are at least showing intent to play for long, a good sign. If their bowlers capitalize on the good batting effort they can still make a match out of it, remember none of the Australian batsmen except Ponting and Clarke have recently batted for long periods of time in recent series. The only thing WI should do is to bowl well to their abilities and do not collapse in second Inns, even if they succeed to draw it would be a great achievement as they are playing with so many new players, if Aus had played without Clarke, Ponting and Watson they would have easily beaten.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2012, 12:08 GMT)

titansfederer, that is cricket.... perhaps if some of the chances were held somebody else would have put their hands up... Cricket is about grabbing the moment, whether it is playing serenely like the guys did earlier in the innings(perhaps that caused the misconcentration fram the ausies) or blazing like Sammy did(a change of momentum). All these things make the dynamics unable to predict and never as cut an dry as you seem to see it.

Posted by titansfederer on (April 9, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

Tlotoxl , had Australia held their chances, they may have dismissed the West Indies for well under 400. At one point the West Indies were 285/5 with all their front-line batsmen in the shed, apart from Chanderpaul. Sammy came in and threw his bat at everything, got away with it, and that basically negated Australia's efforts to dismiss the West Indies for under 350.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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