At Sydney, January 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Australia won by six wickets. Toss: West Indies.
Australia duly completed their clean sweep, the first in history in series between these countries, and extended their record to 15 successive Test wins. At least this time West Indies attacked in a manner more befitting their heritage and Australia were made to sweat for their gains. The signal moment was when the blue dye in Miller's hair, applied overnight in honour of Australia's Centenary of Federation, began to trickle down his shirt on day one. But the margin was still wide.
Australia again swapped Bichel for MacGill, tailoring team to pitch. West Indies lost Ganga and Dillon because of injury, brought in Nagamootoo and repatriated Sarwan. They chose to bat first and Campbell, shotless in Melbourne, signalled a new outlook by hooking at McGrath in the first over. Hinds, a cavalier opening in place of Ganga, took up the theme, and the pair not only made it boldly to lunch but also crashed 74 in the first hour afterwards. However, their departure in successive MacGill overs detonated a collapse from 147 without loss to 272 all out. A combination of MacGill's persistence, West Indies' looseness and poor decisions against Samuels and McLean sped the leg-spinner to a seven-wicket haul. Lara was again like a flare, brief and brilliant, but the wretched Sarwan made his third duck in five Test innings.
Australia spent the second day pushing into the lead, and most of the third augmenting it. Without a spinner of any repute, West Indies were helpless to prevent them after early successes: Hayden provided Lara with his 100th Test catch, the 15th fielder to reach this landmark. Slater's innings was typically feverish, including 13 boundaries, culpability in the run-out of Mark Waugh and, at 96, his own demise when he took one liberty too many with Nagamootoo. His ninth 90-something in Tests equalled Steve Waugh's record. Waugh, however, had long since outgrown his frailties and rushes of blood. This was his 132nd Test, passing Kapil Dev's mark - only Allan Border, with 156, had played more - and he batted with characteristic resolution to his 24th century at this level. Ponting made only his second half-century of the series, sharing a stand of 132 with Waugh, after which Gilchrist, dropped first ball by Adams, struck a thrilling 87 out of 119 added while he was at the wicket. At length, Australia led by 180.
Hinds and Campbell gave West Indies another bountiful start, notwithstanding Waugh's ploy of opening the bowling with Miller. But the dismissal of Hinds by McGrath in the last over of the third day, and the loss of three for nought in five balls next morning, including Samuels first ball, raised the spectre of another rout. Lara belted three consecutive fours, then was dropped by Miller, all in one MacGill over, but Miller soon had him caught behind, another innings of wasteful extravagance. However, enterprising half-centuries from the beleaguered Sarwan, the dependable Jacobs and Nagamootoo drew from the Australians an old and unbecoming tetchiness, as well as bringing nearly 200 from the last five wickets. Even Walsh, given a guard of honour as he came to the crease, managed not to get out. Miller took the final three, but the marauding McGrath and Gillespie were Australia's mainstays.
Set 173, Australia were 46 for three early on the last day, prey to their own psychosis about small targets, a dying pitch and a fierce last hurrah from Walsh, who defied a bad ankle to take his Test aggregate to 494 wickets. But Slater, in his effervescent way, put on 102 at a run a minute with Steve Waugh, all but completing the task. The West Indians' lack of a wrist-spinner - Nagamootoo bowled as much with his fingers as his wrist - was again telling. Walsh received a generous farewell, but otherwise the West Indians filed off meekly into the footnotes of history.
Man of the Match: M. J. Slater.
Man of the Series: G. D. McGrath.