First Test Match

Australia v West Indies

At Brisbane, November 28, 29, 30, December 2. Australia won by eight wickets.

For the second year running a Test Match at the Gabba began with a controversy over the pitch. The former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Alderman Clem Jones, was still in charge and after the Queensland match which was played on a badly underprepared wicket, he came in for a great deal of criticism, especially as the Test pitch seemed to be in a similar condition.

In the four days before the match two fierce electrical storms broke over Brisbane and each time the covers were inadequate and the pitch was flooded. After a lot of hard work, which included blowing hot air on to the pitch with a machine which was normally used for incubating eggs, it made a remarkable recovery.

It held together much better than was expected, although there were rumours that it was rolled and watered each night of the game and if this was so it would explain why.

Both sides went into this match with two spinners, the West Indies with Gibbs and Inshan Ali and Australia with Jenner and Mallett. The West Indies chose Holding for his first Test Match to open the bowling with Roberts in preference to playing Julien who had little form behind him.

This was Greg Chappell's first Test Match as captain of Australia and he could hardly have had a better start, for not only did Australia win the match, but also he made a hundred in each innings.

As Walters was unfit after dislocating his knee in a Sheffield Shield game, Turner came into the side and Redpath took Ross Edwards's place, Edwards have retired at the end of the Australian tour of England the previous September. The West Indies went into the match with six specialist batsmen and only four bowlers.

When Lloyd won the toss he gave the West Indies an important advantage which their batsmen threw away in an astonishing first morning's cricket. They all went for their strokes as if playing a forty-over match, and after two hours play and eighteen overs they came into lunch at 125 for six.

Gilmour was the most hostile of the bowlers and neither Thomson nor Lillee were as impressive in this match as they had been in the corresponding one against England twelve months earlier. The West Indies were taken past 200 through bold innings by Murray and Holding.

McCosker had stomach trouble and so Redpath opened for Australia with Turner and they made a good start although both had some luck against Roberts and Holding, who were both very fast. Turner was dropped by Rowe at second slip off Roberts when he was 12.

Redpath was spectacularly thrown out by Holding at the start of the second day and when he had made one Ian Chappell was dropped by Richards at forward short leg off Roberts. He then began to bat extremely well and with Turner going on to make a solid 81, Australia were assured of a good lead.

Later in the day Greg Chappell was seen at his best. He drove beautifully, especially on the on side and reached a hundred in three hours, twenty-five minutes. He and Marsh added 122. The innings was then quickly finished off by Gibbs who bowled splendidly, taking five for 102 in 38 overs.

The West Indies began their second innings badly, losing Greenidge for his second nought of the match, and Fredericks and Holding, the nightwatchman, were soon out on the third morning. Both Rowe and Kallicharran survived chances off Lillee. They then began to bat splendidly although it was surprising that Gilmour was given only eleven overs in the innings, for he badly worried **MISSING TEXT** record for the West Indies against Australia. While Rowe's cover driving was the feature of his innings, Kallicharran played many exciting cuts and hooks. While they were together it looked as if the West Indies might set Australia more than 300 in the final innings.

Then, in twenty minutes, carelessness cost them three wickets. After batting four and a half hours Rowe played a wild pull at Jenner and was caught at slip and four balls later Lloyd drove when not to the pitch and was caught at extra cover.

Soon afterwards Richards, who seemed badly affected by nerves, ran himself out by half the length of the pitch and when Kallicharran was bowled sweeping at Mallett the score had gone from 248 for three to 275 for seven. Another brave innings by Murray took the West Indies' lead to 218.

Australia soon lost McCosker and then Gibbs began a wonderful spell of bowling on a pitch which was turning a long way if only slowly. Australia were 60 for two when he bowled Turner, but then the Chappell brothers began to bat magnificently, though when Ian was twelve, he drove a full toss from Inshan Ali back to the bowler, who dropped a none-too-difficult catch.

While Greg batted superbly in his upright elegant way and went on to reach his second hundred of the match, Ian played probably the most important innings for it was he who coped with Gibbs when he first came on and was bowling brilliantly. Although the match ended in four days it could hardly have been a more eventful and fascinating game of cricket.

© John Wisden & Co