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Toss: West Indies.
As had happened in 1984-85, on West Indies' last full visit to Australia, a bare and slow Sydney pitch, on which the ball turned from the start, gave Australia, the chance to attack West Indies at their weakest point and inflict on them a rare defeat, their first for eleven Tests. West Indies departed from their usual formula by bringing in a spinner, Harper, in place of a fourth fast bowler, Patterson, and against every current trend the match produced 279.3 overs of spin, the most in a Test match in Australia for 57 years. To take advantage of the conditions, Australia chose Hohns, the Queensland leg-spinner. Mark Taylor, an opening batsman from New South Wales, replaced Wood. For both Hohns and Taylor it was their first cap.
When Richards won the toss and West Indies reached 144 before losing their second wicket, the match looked to be slipping away from Australia at an early stage. But Border then embarked on an all-round performance seldom surpassed by a captain in Test cricket. Having bowled only two overs in the first three Tests, he now destroyed West Indies' first innings, with some co-operation from the batsmen, by taking seven for 46 with the orthodox left-arm slows he had never thought worth taking seriously. Richards, Hooper, Harper and Marshall were all out to long-hops; Richards, given out caught at short leg, got a dubious decision. West Indies were all out just before the close of play on the first day, and on the second Boon's first century against them allowed Australia to consolidate their advantage.
As Australia built a crucial lead on the third day, chiefly through a fourth-wicket partnership of 170 between Boon and Border, it was slow going. Border's 50 took 262 balls; in terms of time (five hours ten minutes) it was the fifth slowest in Test cricket. Richards, unlike his opposite number, did not have a good match, partly for the way he gave Marshall only seven overs of the first 94 in Australia's first innings and Walsh only five of the first 123, although his own off-breaks, like those of Harper and Hooper, were bowled too negatively to be effective. When, belatedly, Marshall did get his chance, his final analysis was remarkable enough to compound Richards's misjudgement and make him think that even on this pitch he would have done better to have had a fourth fast bowler in his side.
West Indies' second innings followed much the same course as their first. Although they had wiped out Australia's lead of 177 with seven wickets in hand, they finished by leaving Australia with only 80 to win. Again carelessness had much to do with their downfall, especially in the case of Hooper and Richards, both caught at deep mid-off trying to loft Hohns for six. The one outstanding exception was Haynes, whose 143 was considered by both captains to be among the finest innings they had seen. Haynes batted almost faultlessly for five and a quarter hours, assiduously smothering the spin and making good use of the loose ball. Hohns justified his selection with three valuable wickets, and Border took his tally for the match to eleven for 96. Border had never taken more than four wickets in a first-class match before; now, only Hughes (thirteen for 217 at Perth the month before) had ever taken more than Border in a Test match for Australia against West Indies. Despite a brief hiccup at the start of their second innings, when they lost Taylor and Boon cheaply, Australia won a quarter of an hour after lunch on the last day. Fittingly enough, Border hit the winning runs.
Man of the Match: A. R. Border. Attendance: 83,729
Close of play: First day, West Indies 224; Second day, Australia 200-3 (D. C. Boon 110*, A. R. Border 18*); Third day, Australia 401; Fourth day, West Indies 254-9 (C. E. L. Ambrose 4*, C. A. Walsh 6*).