First Test Match

West Indies v Australia 1998-1999

Toss: Australia. Test debuts: P. T. Collins, D. R. E. Joseph, S. Ragoonath.

Compounding the humiliation of the infamous whitewash in South Africa, West Indies truly reached their nadir when they were dismissed for 51 - their lowest score in 71 years of Test cricket. Their previous worst was 53 in Faisalabad in 1986-87, and their lowest at home 102 against England in 1934-35. Only Jacobs reached double figures - the next best was six, by Ambrose. Astonishingly, they lost their last 17 wickets for 69 runs in 31.4 overs, to be ridiculed by critics and crowds alike. The prime target for the vitriol was captain Lara (out second ball). Even doting followers in his native Trinidad showed signs of disaffection, if not anger. When the match ended, after lunch on the fourth day, there were renewed and loud calls for his head.

LOWEST TOTALS BY WEST INDIES IN TESTS

51v Australia at Port-of-Spain 1998-99
53v Pakistan at Faisalabad 1986-87
76v Pakistan at Dacca 1958-59
77v New Zealand at Auckland 1955-56
78v Australia at Sydney 1951-52
86v England ( second innings) at The Oval 1957
89v England ( first innings) at The Oval 1957
90v Australia at Sydney 1930-31
91v England at Birmingham 1963
97v England at Lord's 1933
99v Australia at Melbourne 1930-31

The capitulation, and the inquisition which inevitably followed, deflected attention from the indefatigable Walsh, who became only the third bowler behind Sir Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev to take 400 Test wickets. Going into the Test, his 107th with 397 wickets, he finished with a match analysis of seven for 131 from 56.2 overs. But it was his counterpart, McGrath, who won the match award, after taking ten wickets in a Test for the first time.

Walsh reached his landmark when he trapped Healy lbw shortly before the close of the first day, on which Australia blocked their way to 174 for six. They had chosen to bat after entering the match with a four-man attack including two spinners, and the diligent Elliott and Blewett both occupied the crease for more than four hours. But on the second day, when the outfield was cut significantly shorter, the tailenders received greater reward for their strokes. McGrath, whose previous best in Tests was 24, scored 39 in Australia's first innings and, with his pace partner Gillespie, back for his first Test since November, added 66 in 73 minutes for the tenth wicket - the highest partnership of the innings.

But for the bravado of both Dave Joseph, one of three home debutants, and Lara - they added 88 for the third wicket - West Indies' first innings might have done little better than their disastrous second: Adams, with 13, was the only other batsman to reach double figures. Much as Sachin Tendulkar did in Chennai the previous year, Lara set out to demoralise Warne at the start of the series. He struck 11 boundaries in his 62 before he was thrillingly run out by Langer at short leg.

Once he had gone, West Indies lost their remaining six wickets for 18. They were powerless to stop the irresistible Slater from scoring his 12th Test century next day, and Australia's advantage had risen from 102 to a formidable 363 by the fourth morning. By lunch, West Indies were already 16 for five, and for a time it was questionable whether they would better the all-time Test low of 26 by New Zealand against England in 1954-55. Neither of Australia's feared leg-spinners, Warne - who replaced the retired Mark Taylor at first slip - and MacGill, was required to bowl as McGrath and Gillespie ripped through the order. Steve Waugh began his Test captaincy in the most emphatic manner, a 312-run victory in a match which produced a startling 11 ducks.

© John Wisden & Co