Australia aim to continue hold over West indies
Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26, 2008
Start time 10.00 (local), 15.00 (GMT)
The Big PictureOn paper it's a mismatch - the world's top-ranked Test side against the team in eighth position. West Indies have rarely troubled Australia since the mid 1990s, when Tests between the two countries were almost as important as Ashes contests. Without their captain Chris Gayle and with three other players just off the plane from the Indian Premier League, it's hard to see much changing for West Indies this time around. But Australia have not been trialled in overseas Test matches in the post-Warne/McGrath era and how their newer faces adapt to the Caribbean conditions could have a significant bearing on the result. Not surprisingly, Australia are starting as short-priced favourites.
Test form guideWest Indies - WLLWLL
Australia - DLWWWW
Watch out for ...
Ramnaresh Sarwan In a West Indies line-up lacking batting class Sarwan will be, along with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, one of the few men who may worry the Australia attack. Without Gayle as a batsman and as the captain, Sarwan becomes even more important and he is in form after making 80, 72, 57 and 102 against Sri Lanka in April.
Brad Haddin Will become Australia's 400th Test cricketer and only their second wicketkeeper in eight years. Has the unenviable task of replacing Adam Gilchrist, but Haddin is an accomplished gloveman and a fine first-class batsman in his own right and in the past four Pura Cup seasons he has averaged 55.77 for New South Wales.
Stuart MacGill Australia's spin concerns could be solved if MacGill continues his positive comeback from wrist surgery. His Test reappearance in November against Sri Lanka was hampered by carpal-tunnel syndrome and knee problems, but if he can get through the Caribbean tour fully fit and with a bag of wickets, the talk of a potential Shane Warne return may die down.
The two men who opened last time West Indies played a Test are both out through injury, Chris Gayle with a groin problem and Sewnarine Chattergoon due to a shoulder concern. Brenton Parchment is likely to play his second Test despite missing out in the tour match for the Jamaica Select XI, while Devon Smith will probably return to the top after settling in the middle. The loss of the suspended Marlon Samuels means Runako Morton could slot into the middle order, while the specialist spinners Sulieman Benn and Amit Jaggernauth may have to compete with the spinning allrounder Ryan Hinds for one position.
West Indies (possible) 1 Brenton Parchment, 2 Devon Smith, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan (capt), 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Runako Morton, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Ryan Hinds, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Daren Powell, 11 Fidel Edwards.
The typically stable Australia line-up has changed thanks to the heel injury that ruled out Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke's absence. Simon Katich will open with Phil Jaques after doing the job commendably in the tour match in Jamaica. Brad Hodge is back at No. 5 for Clarke, who was given compassionate leave.
Australia 1 Phil Jaques, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Brad Hodge, 6 Andrew Symonds, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Brett Lee, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Stuart Clark, 11 Stuart MacGill.
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Russell Tiffin.
Pitch & conditionsOnce one of the hardest and fastest pitches in the Caribbean, the Sabina Park surface has slowed in recent years. It hasn't hosted any international cricket since the 2007 World Cup, and the last time a Test was held at the ground was in 2006 when Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh both claimed five-wicket hauls. MacGill will be hoping for more of the same.
Weather: No rain is expected at any stage during the match, with conditions likely to be warm and cloudy.
Stats and trivia
West Indies have lost 12 of their past 13 Tests against Australia, their only victory coming at St John's in 2003 when they chased down a record fourth-innings target of 418. West Indies did win the last time the teams met in Kingston, but that was nine years ago and only one of the 22 players from that match - MacGill - will be turning out this time.
Unbelievably, this is Australia's first Test on foreign soil in more than two years. Last time they played away from home was in Bangladesh in 2006, when Jason Gillespie made a double-century.
Quotes"If the likes of Gayle, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Bravo and Edwards, and these sorts of players, play their best, then they they can compete with any team in the world, so we have to be on our game."
Australia's coach Tim Nielsen
"It's a great time [to face Australia], actually. Obviously, they've got quite a lot of new faces as well. The players that are there are very good, and you obviously can't take anybody for granted. But it's a great opportunity for us as a team to continue to play well."