Third Test

Australia v West Indies, 2009-10

At Perth, December 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 2009. Australia won by 35 runs. Toss: Australia. Test debuts: C. J. McKay; G. C. Tonge.


Ricky Ponting lifts the Frank Worrell Trophy, Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, Perth, December 20, 2009
It wasn't all easy going, but eventually Australia prevailed © Getty Images
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Having played the tortoise with such solidity and impact in Adelaide, Gayle was straining to release the hare at the WACA little more than a week later. And what a release it was: Gayle, the owner of the sole Twenty20 international century, hit an equally destructive Test hundred. His 70-ball assault meant he reached three figures one delivery faster than the furiously explosive century by Roy Fredericks at the same ground in 1975-76, and just 13 slower than home-town hero Adam Gilchrist in the 2006-07 Ashes series at Perth.

Yet for all the drama during Gayle's remarkable innings, which included a blow off Hauritz that landed on the roof of the five-storey Lillee-Marsh Stand a full 110 metres away, his effort and the fact that his team ran Australia to within 36 runs of victory was overshadowed by a series of ugly confrontations between the players. Four of them were disciplined, including the Barbadian spinner Benn, who was banned for two one-day internationals after a protracted clash on the second day with the batsmen Johnson and Haddin, for which the two Australians received relatively minor fines from referee Chris Broad. Watson also received a fine after a spectacular reaction, likened by former Australian bowler Geoff Lawson to a four-year-old's temper tantrum, to his dismissal of Gayle in the second innings. Watson claimed he had been taunted by the batsman: "He definitely let me know that he was keen for me to come on to bowl, so it was very nice to get him out first ball."

Australia have struggled for impact in recent seasons at Perth, the ground where once they dominated as bowlers used the pace and steepling bounce to their advantage while batsmen made the most of the true but confronting surface and rapid outfield. Roach relished the helpful conditions, producing a display of dynamic high-speed bowling that, more than anything during the summer, posed questions about Ponting's longevity at the highest level. Ponting was forced to retire hurt for the first time in his career when Roach slammed a bumper into his left elbow, causing a tendon injury that the Australian physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said was akin to "a piece of meat bashed by a mallet", and which would trouble Ponting for the rest of the summer.

Australia looked impregnable after their early declaration at 520, Katich suffering the chagrin of his second Test dismissal for 99 as the team's half-century tally escalated to 15, while West Indies looked to be out of the contest after their middling reply of 312. The highlight was Gayle's rampage, which started in Bollinger's first over and concluded only when he ran out of ammunition 102 minutes later. Six of Gayle's shots flew over the fence, several of them over the crowd and one on to the top of the stand. It was breathtaking batting, and a display of such clean and brutal hitting that even the Australian players were awestruck by the big Jamaican's power and fury.

Seemingly inspired by their captain's carnage, West Indies found Australia rattled by Ponting's absence and vulnerable to the searching combination of Roach's pace and Bravo's probing late swing. The innings failed to survive four hours as Bravo snared four cheap wickets and Benn had a token of revenge with three, including his tormentor Haddin. Ponting entered at 125 for seven - shortly after it had been announced that he would not bat except in an emergency - but lasted only six balls.

West Indies required 359 to secure their sixth victory at the WACA - they won their first five Tests there before losing the most recent one in 2000-01 - but the absence of cool head Chanderpaul (forced to withdraw because of a finger damaged at Adelaide) and teenage revelation Adrian Barath, who had torn a hamstring doing extra fitness sessions, proved crucial. Sarwan fell trying an ambitious cut to the last ball before lunch on the fourth day, and later Bravo's loose drive was snapped up in the gully. In between, Chanderpaul's replacement Narsingh Deonarine - another Guyanese left-hander - and Nash threatened the target with a dogged 128-run stand, then Benn and Roach hoicked and hammered at better than a run a ball during the closing stages, but it was to no avail. The game had a dramatic finale - albeit with the participants motionless as they waited for several long minutes for video confirmation of the result - with the last wicket being eventually upheld on Asad Rauf's review despite no evidence to support the on-field umpire Billy Bowden's finding that Roach had feathered a catch behind.

Man of the Match: C. H. Gayle. Man of the Series: C. H. Gayle. Close of play: First day, Australia 339-3 (Hussey 81, North 23); Second day, West Indies 214-2 (Sarwan 42, Deonarine 10); Third day, Australia 137-8 (Hauritz 11, McKay 1); Fourth day, West Indies 308-9 (Roach 13, Tonge 12).

© John Wisden & Co.