Toss: Australia. Test debut: J. R. Murray.
An innings of breathtaking quality by Brian Lara towered over everything else in a high-scoring match. It drastically altered the course of a series that was slipping away from his team when he joined Richardson in the second over of the third day. West Indies were 31 for two, replying to 503 for nine declared; only five days earlier they had been beaten in Melbourne, and they were deeply suspicious about the Sydney ground, where they had lost their two previous Tests in otherwise successful series.
In between breaks for rain Lara unleashed a dazzling array of strokes. He needed only 125 balls to reach his maiden Test century in his fifth match. By the end of the day, he was 121, Richardson 94 and their partnership of 217 was already the highest for West Indies' third wicket in a Test in Australia. They had taken it to 293 when Richardson's hook off Hughes was caught at deep backward square leg. In five and a half hours at the wicket he hit 11 fours in his 15th Test century, and his eighth against Australia. "I can hardly remember my hundred," he said afterwards. "It was difficult playing and being a spectator at the same time."
By this time Lara was scoring at will in all directions, dominating another partnership, of 124, with Arthurton. Australia were powerless to stop him until he committed himself to a single to cover off Matthews and could not beat Martyn's return to the wicket-keeper when Hooper sent him back. His 277 was the third-highest individual Test score against Australia (behind L. Hutton and R. E. Foster) and the highest for either side in Tests between Australia and West Indies. He struck 38 fours off 372 balls in seven hours 54 minutes. Lara's pre-eminence on the rain-shortened fourth day was such that he added 156 and struck 23 fours, outscoring his three partners by more than two to one. His solitary chance, low to Steve Waugh at gully off Hughes, was when he was 172.
Lara's approach contrasted markedly with the careful grafting of most of the Australians. Mark Waugh was the exception, scoring 57 out of a 94-run stand with his brother. But Steve Waugh worked diligently for four and a half hours over his fourth Test century, which included only five fours. After the loss of three wickets for 16, late on the first day, Border and Matthews regained the initiative, but they took nearly four hours over their partnership of 155. When Border drove Hooper to mid-on for his 21st run he reached 10,000 runs in his 136th Test, a landmark previously achieved only by India's S. M. Gavaskar. As the match drifted to a draw on the final afternoon, after West Indies were finally dismissed for 606, Boon became the eighth Australian to pass 5,000 Test runs.
Man of the Match: B. C. Lara. Attendance: 83,115.
Close of play: First day, Australia 272-5 (A. R. Border 0*, G. R. J. Matthews 0*); Second day, West Indies 24-1 (D. L. Haynes 16*, R. B. Richardson 3*); Third day, West Indies 248-2 (R. B. Richardson 94*, B. C. Lara 121*); Fourth day, West Indies 488-5 (C. L. Hooper 7*, J. C. Adams 5*).