2nd Test

West Indies v Australia, 2011-12

Daniel Brettig


Michael Beer was given the new ball and claimed an early wicket, West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Port-of-Spain, April 16, 2012
Michael Beer became the first Australian spinner to open the bowling in the opposition's first innings since 1938 © Associated Press
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At Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, April 15-19, 2012. Drawn. Toss: Australia.

Rain had the final say in a contest that was enticingly poised, ensuring Australia retained the Frank Worrell Trophy they had held for 17 years. The Queen's Park Oval pitch was subcontinental in nature, drawing comparisons from Australia's coach Mickey Arthur with Green Park at Kanpur, and turned from the first session. Australia recalled slow left-armer Michael Beer for his second Test, more than 15 months after his first, against England at Sydney, and thus chose two specialist spinners for the first time since Nagpur in 2008-09. They also recalled Pattinson, leaving out Siddle (injured) and Harris, Man of the Match in Barbados but rested by fitness staff concerned about his capacity to survive back-to-back Tests. West Indies lost Kirk Edwards to a knee problem, and drafted in Kieran Powell.

Clarke did not contain his happiness at winning the toss and batting first, but his own struggles - he needed more than two hours to make 45 - typified Australia's approach against an attack that stuck diligently to their task and used the conditions wisely. Shillingford, replacing the out-of-sorts Bishoo, struck in his first over when Warner walked into a drive and snicked an off-break to slip. Roach was all unbridled attack at one end, and did for Ponting with a snorter which Sammy caught at first slip on the rebound from Baugh, while Deonarine again proved an able addition to the bowling ranks. Hussey spent four hours over his 73, and later said he had seldom felt so drained. His seventh-wicket partnership of 89 with Pattinson helped the innings stagger past 300.

Clarke's knack for the lateral was demonstrated again when he handed the new ball to Beer, who became the first Australian spinner to open the bowling in the opposition's first innings since 1938, when leg-spinner Bill O'Reilly partnered Ernie McCormick at Trent Bridge. Charlie Barnett and Len Hutton opened up with 219 that day, but Beer did his unusual commission justice by trapping Barath in his third over, while Hilfenhaus and Pattinson prospered at the other end. Before the second day was out, however, Pattinson wrenched his back while throwing off-balance, and did not bowl again.

The third day's resumption was delayed for 20 minutes, in bright sunshine, when the host broadcaster's two generators cut out at precisely the scheduled start time. The players, umpires and match referee discussed the implications of playing on without any recourse to the DRS (there was also a contractual issue concerning the absence of a live TV feed). But by the time they agreed the show could go on, power had been restored.

Chanderpaul and Deonarine batted deep into the day as West Indies reached 230 for four, and they were just beginning to think in terms of a lead when Lyon got to work. Previously his rhythm had been lacking and his body action out of sync, but now he fizzed out five batsmen in the evening session: suddenly, West Indies trailed by 54. Wade also emerged with credit, claiming a catch and a stumping, and - on a pitch that produced sharp spin and low bounce - conceding only a single bye in 104.4 overs.

Australia's efforts to set a target quickly were then upset by Roach and the rain. Roach's menace on a pitch far from suited to his art was considerable, and his ten-wicket haul was the first by a West Indian against Australia since Curtly Ambrose at Adelaide in 1992-93, a match West Indies won by one run. Roach said he had been inspired by Malcolm Marshall, who would have been 54 on the fourth day of this game, and whose skiddy supremacy had informed Roach's methods.

The weather drained more time from the match, dragging Australia's innings into the final day and reducing the chance of a result. Clarke remained aggressive in pursuit of a win, and ultimately set West Indies a tantalising 215 in 59 overs. Sammy responded to the challenge by promoting himself to No. 3, and was hitting out effectively before the rain closed in for good. Whether he could have sustained the assault for any meaningful length of time was a question which, frustratingly, was left hanging in the damp air.

Man of the Match: K. A. J. Roach.

Close of play: First day, Australia 208-5 (Hussey 26, Wade 11); Second day, West Indies 49-3 (Bravo 16, Chanderpaul 1); Third day, West Indies 252-9 (Baugh 17, Edwards 0); Fourth day, Australia 73-3 (Ponting 32, Clarke 3).

© John Wisden & Co.