West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Port-of-Spain, 5th day

An hour to cherish, 20 minutes to forget

Despite the weather forcing a draw, the Trinidad Test fit in much that was worth savouring

Daniel Brettig at Queen's Park Oval

April 19, 2012

Comments: 42 | Text size: A | A

Darren Sammy played aggressively at No. 3, West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Port-of-Spain, April 19, 2012
Darren Sammy showed his intent by pushing himself up the order © AFP
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Rain giveth, and rain taketh away. The same precipitation that on day four had pushed the Trinidad Test towards a contest open to both sides had the ill manners to return about the same time on day five, and so consign the match to the dustbin of history occupied by most weather-affected draws. But the 11 overs of the West Indies chase, and the handful that had concluded the Australian second innings before them, a little more than an hour's cricket in all, left a feeling of warmth about the leadership of both the hosts and the visitors.

At the same time the rain reduced the chance that the 20 minutes of bright sunshine lost for murky reasons on the third morning would be pored over with greater intensity, for had it been played the match would not ultimately have been much closer to achieving a result. Nonetheless it will stick uncomfortably in the craw of all present at the ground at the scheduled start time that technological and commercial concerns had been deemed so critical as to stop a Test match in what were the best and sunniest conditions of its five days.

Two days on, Darren Sammy and Michael Clarke tried their very best on the final afternoon to bring about a result, by whatever means they had within their power. A draw was enough to secure the Frank Worrell Trophy for Australia, retained on every occasion since it was so enterprisingly won by Mark Taylor's men in 1995, but Clarke was thinking of victory every moment of the day until the rain closed in. Bad light was the initial cause of the players' departure, and Clarke argued the point quite forcefully with the umpires Ian Gould and Marais Erasmus before reluctantly walking off for the last time.

"Unfortunately there's nothing I could do about the weather," Clarke said later. "Darren and I spoke on the ground right at the end before we came off for bad light and both captains wanted to do everything we could to stay out there but as the umpires said it was just way too dark unfortunately, even though I said I'd bowl spin at both ends. I said at that stage, because I'd had Shane Watson bowl the last over from that end, is it okay if I bring on two spinners but they told me it was even too dark for that.

"There's going to be times throughout the rest of my career that it [being aggressive] might backfire and we might lose every now and then. But I enjoy the brand of cricket that we're playing at the moment. I know the guys are really focused on the team having success and trying to win as many games of cricket as we can. And I think it's bringing the best out of the team, to be honest. We'll continue to do everything we can to try and keep winning."

Sammy, meanwhile, led his team with more intent and aggression in the field than at any stage of the final day in Barbados, harnessing Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach and Shane Shillingford adeptly while also bowling with typical intelligence himself to fields that were neatly balanced between attack and defence, albeit on a pitch less likely to punish aggressive captaincy or wayward bowling.

Once Australia's prospective target had been shrunk by the quality of the bowling that had confronted them, leaving the West Indies 215 to get in 61 overs, Sammy maintained his notable streak of pro-activity by attacking in his choice of batting order. The obstinate Kraigg Brathwaite was sent down the order to be replaced by Kieran Powell, an opener for the team in ODIs. Powell drove his first ball smartly to the cover fence, but once Ben Hilfenhaus had pinned him lbw, who walked out but Sammy, intent on a thoughtful attack on the bowling. He was making a few of the visitors sweat, too, before the rain arrived.

The enthusiasm engendered in the West Indies team by Sammy, and among the Australians by Clarke, has been admirable. But all parties must take a share of blame for the ridiculous sight on the third day of the two teams walking to the middle, being informed of a power cut at the ground, then traipsing straight back off for 20 minutes of postulating about the implications of simply playing cricket without the assistance of TV. Clarke admitted after the match that he did not know the rule about continuing matches without the DRS in the event of technical difficulties, while the West Indies coach Ottis Gibson said shruggingly that it was simply an example of television's power over sport.

Jeff Crowe, the match referee, and the two umpires, were much more aware of the playing conditions, and as such should not have allowed 20 minutes to tick by without any action on the field. The rain pelting Queen's Park Oval on the final afternoon was a staunch enough reminder that cricket has ample elemental obstacles without others being created by technology and bureaucracy. As ever, the spectators at the ground were thought of last of all, none given a satisfactory explanation why they were teased by the sight of the teams emerging and then retreating.

For all of that, the Trinidad Test fit in much that was worth savouring, from the batting of Shane Watson, Michael Hussey and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Australia's rare use of tandem spin to slide through the West Indian first innings, to the unbridled pace and keen intelligence shown by Roach. At 23, he is a bowler of tremendous promise and considerable threat to Australia's transitional batting order, guided soundly by the professional and ECB-approved savvy of Gibson.

Many greats of Caribbean cricket have lamented how subsequent generations have had little time for the wisdom they offered, but in Roach's case there was the tangible inspiration and ingenuity of the late Malcolm Marshall in his heart and mind. His unprompted acknowledgement of what would have been Marshall's 54th birthday on day four was a heartening moment for West Indian cricket, one that suggested the team led by Sammy is learning to take on the best lessons of the years of plenty that preceded them. Alongside the enterprise shown by Clarke and Sammy, Roach's efforts should not be washed away from cricket's collective memory by the showers that ended any chance of a result in this match.

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

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Posted by andrew-schulz on (April 21, 2012, 12:14 GMT)

Yeah, whatever Meety. Your second post is accurate regarding the rankings, except that India's win in the WI did not count in their ranking when they first got to number one. (Good thing too as it was such a tacky win). The ICC web site has a rankings predictor. You would love it, except they have now taken off the facility to check how the result of the current series would affect the rankings. Australia would move only slightly with a 1-0 win, but enough to be ahead of India. A 2-0 win would move them from 111 to 112. I have to re-iterate that, for any true student of the rankings, neither England nor India have been # 1. You can say 'fair and square', but what is the point if it is only based on Tests in their comfort zone? For Pete's sake, SL would have become number 1 if they'd clung on to their 1-0 series lead against India in 2010-and they would have beaten only Bangladesh away from home. The system is a joke. Just watch the sudden change in August-and laugh.

Posted by zenboomerang on (April 21, 2012, 10:13 GMT)

@andrew-schulz... Well said & agree that the current ranking system is disfunctional & over biased to home teams... Rankings must include all away & home matches to give a complete guide but that is too long to give any form guide as 4 years is too long... May be a simpler method would be to give less points for home victories & against lower ranked teams so that the top team actually has to be good against most teams in most locations - a sliding scale would work easily & give a more complete picture of where teams are at...

Posted by Meety on (April 21, 2012, 8:45 GMT)

@andrew-schulz - I would actually say that in 3yrs leading up to India taking the #1 spot they had 3 series outside of the SC (WI, Eng & NZ) in which they won all 3. As for "ficticious" drawn series, I was referring to the two Drawn series v Sth Africa home & away (concede I did not say with clarity). Oz had already lost the #1 ranking before the 5-0 Ashes dropped completely off, we then replaced it with a 1-3 result, I know the way I said it was poor/simplistic, but still it was a 7 game turn around, that was the primary driver for us dropping to 5th. I don't like the way the rankings are calculated, but under the ICC rules India & England have reached #1 fair & square. I don't believe India were truely challenged much whilst #1, (meaning playing away against good opposition), & I don't believe the Poms should be joint #1 with the Saffas atm either. I would expect that we will improve in the rankings with out having to win 2-0 or 3-0 as the comment I was responding to felt.

Posted by   on (April 21, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

The question is, how long do you want to say you're rebuilding? That just implies that you haven't got the cattle to get the job done, that you're not ready. There's a lot of fresh faces in and around the team, that's evident. But I think now they have a squad of 20 or so players to go forward with and they are playing good cricket. So then they should be backing themselves. Pattinson may well have been injured, but they still had Hilfy and Watto to swing the ball and any number of guys there to give it a twirl..... If they don't go for a win under those circumstances that would just make them like India under Dhoni, who wants that? And I will stick by my comments about the rankings... winning a series 2-0 or 3-0 will get you better rankings points than a timid 1-0 result without risks. Just go and play around with the rankings predictor tool on the ICC page. Aus should be targetting the test championship and for that they need to start climbing now!

Posted by andrew-schulz on (April 21, 2012, 5:39 GMT)

Meety, where do you get your information on the rankings system? Probably the same place you get the information about these fictitious Indian away drawn series. Your point on the rankings needs correcting, and I will again preface it by saying that this system is a disgrace, and neither India nor England have ever been close to being a true number one. The '7 match turn around' had nothing to do with Australia's ranking-the 2006/07 result had been obliterated from the rankings in August 2010, after being halved in its effect in August 2008. Likewise India 'improving from a low rate' had nothing to do with them getting to number one. They got to number one because over a three year period they played only one series outside the sub-continent. And when they got to #1 in August 2009, there was not one single away series draw in the time-frame under question, so I don't know what Tests you are following there. Aus ranking will adjust swiftly in August, when they are not even playing.

Posted by RandyOZ on (April 21, 2012, 4:39 GMT)

Clarke again shows why he is undoubtedly the best captain, let alone batsman, on Earth at the moment. We may not be good enough to lose 4 of our last 5 tests including an embarassing whitewash against the lowly Pakistan, but we sure are cleaning up in every series we play!

Posted by rsgarcia on (April 21, 2012, 3:39 GMT)

I am extremely proud of Windies. This entire tour has been a revelation for those who have not been watching the slow but steady improvements over the last couple of years. For all those so sure the Aussies were in front--I'd just like to point out they were short a frontline bowler and Windies were clearly flustering them. Whether Sammy survived is not the point. You would have still had to have a game plan for the Guyanese, including the irrepressible Tiger, who can turn up the run rate at will. Normally, Windies fans would be happy with a draw, but we all felt the magic coming together. The rain ruined an exciting ending. Oh well--I wonder where all the 'Windes will be lucky to win a match on this tour' people are now, hmmm? Keep underestimating us RandyOz, Marcio and others! Just makes the match sweeter! On to Dominica! Windies! Now and Forever!

Posted by Doogius on (April 21, 2012, 2:10 GMT)

@Meety, geez, must be a new game of cricket, you get points for being 'in front'. Only 200 in front, down a bowler, up in the series, need a draw to win the trophy and you declare and give the WI the chance to get back into the series. Proof, simple - if he had the confidence in the bowling to get out the WI if they shut up shop, would have declared later. The only way he thought he could get 10 wickets was if they were having a go - hence the dec. FTR, your right about India except you missed something - the consistency was from playing 27 out of 32 tests within 100km of India on subcontinental roads with arguably the best batting line up in the world for the last 10 years. Might have had something to do with it.

Posted by Ansido on (April 20, 2012, 23:05 GMT)

This is test cricket. Thought, tactics and attacking positive play. Shame about the weather: having said that, the fan who comes to the ground to watch cricket must be given top priority. What would the game be like without the fans at the stadiums?

Posted by Meety on (April 20, 2012, 21:48 GMT)

@Bollo - agree with both your comments. @Jono Makim - India got to #1 because they were consistant & their win/loss ratio was improving from a low rate. (Win/loss ratio ultimately drives the rankings). India did not win many away series - mainly drawing them. Oz fell so far down the rankings primarily on the back of a 7 match turn around in the home Ashes (5-0 to 1-3), (losing at home to the Saffas did not help). So whilst an awful series result could Oz some rankings momentum, a series win against Saffas at home or against England will see the ratings adjust swiftly. Oz currently hold all bilateral test series except one. I would say setting a target against the WIndies in the 2nd test & the way Oz won the 1st test is ample signs that the Ozzys are pushing themselves!!! @ Tumbarumbar - why do you have to bag Clarke to make your case for Punter? @Doogius - yes we are in a re-building stage as you adequately point out, I would say Oz were still in front in the 2nd test.

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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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