First Test Match

AUSTRALIA v WEST INDIES 1979-80

At Brisbane, December 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Drawn. West Indies held sway almost throughout the match but were denied victory by steady Australian batting in the second innings, a pitch which remained placid throughout, a crucial dropped catch, and their own lack of a specialist spinner.

The first Australian Test team since the demise of World Series Cricket included eight former Packer players and was again led by Chappell, reinstated as captain by the Board in place of Hughes, who was named as his deputy. Murray, in his 52nd Test, led West Indies for the first time as Lloyd was recouperating from a knee operation. He sent Australia in and, while Laird and Chappell were adding 130 for the third wicket, it appeared that he and his team would regret that decision. Chappell was in his best form, stroking the ball confidently for two and a half hours before hooking Roberts hard and straight to King at square leg. That dismissal, soon followed by Hughes's, put a brake on the Australian scoring, and West Indies had also removed the stubborn Laird when poor light halted play an hour early at 229 for five. In his first Test, Laird had batted with tenacity for five hours, his ten boundaries coming mainly from deflections. Just 8 short of a century, he pushed at a delivery from Garner which cut away from him and was given out caught behind the wicket after long deliberation by the umpire.

Australia's innings was at the crossroads when play resumed on the second day, but once Hookes had been caught at mid-wicket batting was a struggle. That their total of 268 was unsatisfactory was given due emphasis when West Indies ended the day well placed at 233 for three. Greenidge, badly dropped by Thomson from a top-edged hook off Lillee when 3, and Haynes provided them with a fine start which Richards built on in dominant fashion, well supported by Kallicharran in a century stand for the third wicket.

On the third day, Richards and Rowe provided West Indies with their second successive century partnership, and a substantial lead seemed certain when 300 was passed with only three wickets down. However, the second new ball initiated a collapse in which six wickets fell for 68. Among the victims was Richards, well caught by the tumbling Marsh for 140. Spread over five and a half hours, it was his tenth Test century and included every shot in the book among the twenty boundaries. When Garner was joined by last man Croft, the West Indian lead was 117; when the innings ended eighty-one minutes later, it was 173. Garner lifted three huge 6s off the left-arm spin of Bright, Border and Hookes in recording his then highest first-class score of 60. The last-wicket partnership of 56 was a West Indian record against Australia, Croft's contribution being 2.

With more than two days remaining, Australia faced a considerable task to saved the match. Although their openers survived the third day, McCosker and Border were again early victims and Australia looked a second time to Laird and Chappell to lead the recovery. Laird took several body blows in the early overs and Chappell needed some time to find his touch of the first innings. In one particularly tense period, Garner and Holding delivered five consecutive maidens during which Chappell, then 21, was dropped by Kallicharran at first slip off Holding; a decisive miss. By the time Laird was caught at point the West Indian lead had been erased after a partnership of 124.

At the end of the fourth day Chappell was 97 and Australia, at 240 for three, were well on the way to saving the match. The Australian captain reached his fifteenth Test century early on the final day and, despite his loss, Australia were 320 for four at lunch; 147 ahead with the match as good as saved. Chappell's innings lasted six and a quarter hours, and Hughes capitalised on it with a far more carefree century. When Chappell surprisingly declared late in the day, thus giving West Indies a meaningless threequarters of an hour's batting, Hughes was still unbeaten. Never afraid to play his shots, he used the hook to best effect and it accounted for ten of his seventeen boundaries. Chappell was named as Man of the Match.

© John Wisden & Co