Third Test Match

AUSTRALIA v WEST INDIES 1988-89

At Melbourne, December 24, 26, 27, 28, 29. West Indies won by 285 runs, and so retained the Frank Worrell Trophy. Toss: Australia. As in the previous Test match, Australia were eventually worn down by the speed, aggression and relentlessness of the West Indian bowlers, who were allowed to operate with scant regard for the Law covering an excess of fast short-pitched bowling. In a match in which Australia as well as West Indies made the batsmen their target dangerously often, the tailenders included, only two minor warnings were issued, one to Ambrose and the other to Patterson, both by umpire Crafter. Batsmen were frequently being hit, though the worst casualty was Logie, who suffered a broken nose, despite wearing a helmet with a visor, when struck while fielding at short leg by a fierce pull from Hughes.

While West Indies kept their winning side from Perth, Australia made four changes, Jones, Taylor, Alderman and McDermott replacing Veletta, May, Dodemaide and the injured Lawson. Alderman thus became the first Australian to return to Test cricket after being banned for touring South Africa with two disapproved sides. He was Australia's best bowler by a long way, his swing and accuracy bringing the best out of Greenidge and Haynes on the first morning after Border, playing his 100th Test match (the first Australian to do so), had put West Indies in.

West Indies' first innings consisted, in fact, of a useful start and a strong finish, but lacked anything much in the middle. They declined from 68 for no wicket a quarter of an hour before lunch on the first day to 199 for eight an hour before the close. When their fast bowlers raised 81 runs for the last two wickets, a total of 280 on a grassy pitch of somewhat irregular bounce was always likely to take a lot of overhauling. It was a setback to Australia's chances when two inches of rain fell on Christmas Day, so preventing the pitch from being open to the sun. Australia's catching showed a marked improvement on their form of recent Test matches. The second of Border's catches at slip was his 111th in Test cricket, when took him past R. B. Simpson and W. R. Hammond in the overall records.

Just over an hour before the end of the second day, Australia passed 100 with only Boon out. They had made slow and determined progress, but that was to prove the high point of the match for them. Three devastating yorkers from Ambrose and Patterson had reduced them to 121 for four by the close, and next day only a boisterous ninth-wicket partnership of 44 between McDermott and Hughes got them much past 200. The problem Australia's batsmen had in finding scoring chances against much steeply rising bowling was reflected in Wood's innings: an attacking player by choice, he managed only twelve singles in two hours ten minutes.

West Indies' vast all-round superiority enabled them to build an unassailable lead on the fourth day, although Greenidge (bruised eye) and Logie batted only late and under handicap. Richardson's fourth hundred against Australia was the backbone of West Indies' second innings, in which Richards made 63 off 70 balls. Richardson batted for six and a half hours for his first Test hundred for 32 innings. Benefiting from some carefree West Indian batting towards the end of the penultimate day, Waugh had a spell of four wickets for 34 runs in nine overs.

Australia's final target was not so much the 400 they needed to win as the 95 overs they had to survive on the last day if they were to achieve a draw. Battered and apprehensive by now, they never looked like doing it, being blasted out in 57.1 overs with many a bruise to show for it. Patterson bowled formidably fast, and there was never a moment's respite for Australia's batsmen. Fielding at third slip, as a substitute, Harper held a truly brilliant catch to account for Jones, whose attempted on-side stroke had come rocketing low to Harper's left. At a press conference after the match, both captains were critical of the pitch's uneven bounce.

Man of Match: C. E. L. Ambrose. Attendance: 108,418

Close of play: First day, West Indies 246-8 (C. E. L. Ambrose 37*, C. A. Walsh 16*); Second day, Australia 121-4 (G. M. Wood 4*, S. R. Waugh 4*); Third day, West Indies 69-1 (C. G. Greenidge 25*, R. B. Richardson 17*); Fourth day, West Indies 361-9 (C. G. Greenidge 36*, B. P. Patterson 3*).

© John Wisden & Co