First Test Match

WEST INDIES v. AUSTRALIA

Both sides seemed to approach the first match of the series rather apprehensively, as if prepared to settle for a draw and to have a good look at the strength of the opposition. In any case a lifeless pitch made it almost certain that two sides who were strong in batting and weak in bowling would be unlikely to arrive at a definite result. After his good showing at Montego Bay for the President's XI, Willett was unlucky not to make the West Indies side, while the Australian selectors decided to play three fast bowlers in addition to Walters and Greg Chappell and leave the spinning to O'Keeffe.

Australia won the toss, but on the first day they threw away some of the advantage after Stackpole had given them a typically robust start. Stackpole scored 35 in the first thirty-five minutes and was very severe on Dowe, the Jamaican fast bowler. The introduction of Gibbs altered the whole emphasis of the day and bowling as well as he has ever done Gibbs prevented the main Australian batsmen from getting on top. After their exciting start a score of 190 for four at the end of the first day was disappointing. On the second day Australia revealed the strength and the depth of their batting. While Edwards played a patient but invaluable innings at one end, Walters and then Marsh batted magnificently, Marsh having the misfortune to hit his own wicket hooking when only three short of a hundred.

The West Indies lost Greenidge and Fredericks fairly soon, but there followed a glorious partnership of 116 between Rowe and Kallicharran in which these two young batsmen displayed the full extent of their talents as they matched each other stroke for stroke. Both got themselves out unnecessarily having passed fifty and the West Indies were at a point of crisis at 165 for four. Kanhai was joined by Foster and Kanhai's responsible batting obviously infected Foster and slowly they led the West Indies to safety. There was a fine piece of bowling by Walker, who worried all the batsmen and finished with six for 114 in 39 overs. The other four wickets fell to Hammond, who showed a marked improvement after he had taken his first wicket. Kanhai and Foster added 210 in even time and Foster went on to reach his first Test century in three hours with thirteen 4's. Lillee was a great disappointment throughout the innings, finishing with none for 112; he bowled without any great pace and with poor control.

The West Indies innings finished in the middle of the fourth afternoon and the rest of the match was a formality of filling in the time. Stackpole made a good hundred when Australia batted again, he and Redpath putting on 161 for the first wicket, but there was no longer any pressure in the game. Chappell made a token declaration on the last afternoon and the West Indies lost three wickets before the end, but by then it was all meaningless.

© John Wisden & Co