West Indies v Australia 2008 / Features

West Indies v Australia, 1st Test, Jamaica

'First Test is West Indies' best chance for victory' - Blewett

Greg Blewett on the squads for Australia and West Indies for the first Test in Jamaica

Greg Blewett

May 22, 2008

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Greg Blewett: 'Chris Gayle will be missed more for his captaincy than his batting' © Getty Images
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There are some changes for the Australians with Matthew Hayden out for the Test, and there is also some talk he might be out of the series. So we'll have to wait and see what happens there, but Simon Katich will come in for Hayden, which I don't think will be a massive change. Simon has been in sensational form for New South Wales in the last 12 months or so scoring 1506 runs.

He deserves his chance; he's played quite a few Tests and one-dayers and is an experienced player. Having been around him over the past few days, [I can tell] he's been pretty relaxed and confident in his own game. I can see Simon fitting in nicely in the Australian team. He warmed up pretty nicely with 97 and 37 not out in the practice match. He's in good nick and took six wickets too, so he might even come into the equation for the first Test with the ball. I'm looking for good things from Katich in the not-too-distant future.

Brad Hodge, surprisingly, gets his chance. He's been a travelling nomad, travelling all over the shop for the last few months. He was playing county cricket when he got the call to play some IPL [matches]; he only played a couple of matches and was drafted into the West Indies, probably thinking he'd not play a Test. Then all of a sudden this opportunity comes up. He will probably bat at five, Andrew Symonds at six and Brad Haddin, on debut, at seven.

So it's still a fairly solid batting order for the Australians. Australia have been blessed with those two players [Hodge and Katich] coming in because they are fairly experienced and it's not as if they are guys who have played half a dozen first-class games and been thrown into Test cricket - they've been there, done that.

Ricky Ponting will be under a little bit of pressure going into the first Test. He's been uncharacteristically out of form, coming from India where he didn't do very well in the IPL, and that came after a disappointing summer in Australia [against India]. The nerves will certainly be there for him walking out to bat in the first innings.

I went out to the main practice session in Kingston and he looked in really good form. I bowled to him and watched the decent bowlers bowl to him - he was moving beautifully. He was not falling across the stumps like he can do when he is struggling. He batted for a long time and had a few throw-downs and he seemed pretty happy.

Chris Gayle is out of the side, which is a big loss, not so much for his batting, but his leadership. He has captained the side to two Test wins in only four games. His leadership will be the biggest loss.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan are two key players for them. Their bowling is pretty reasonable and they've got some good quick bowlers, Daren Powell is pretty good on his day and Fidel Edwards is fiery - he's their main strike bowler. I'm interested to see the new left-arm spinner [Sulieman Benn] from Barbados who is 6ft 7in. So I'm interested in seeing how he goes.

They've got a bit to work with but if they are going to have some success against the best team in the world, it has to be in this Test. Australia haven't played a Test for a long time so they might be a bit rusty. They are also missing Hayden and Michael Clarke. That just about gives West Indies a bit of an edge. If they are ever going to beat Australia it's going to be in this Test.

I don't know whether Australia will win 3-0. One of the Tests might be rain affected, so I think 2-0. I don't see West Indies beating Australia, but if they do, it's going to be the first Test. Australia probably aren't in tip-top form coming off a big layoff. I'm not sure about the pitch either. From all reports it might play a few tricks later in the Test. If the West Indies are going to have a chance, it's going to be in this Test.

Greg Blewett played 46 Tests for Australia and his favourite tour was the trip to the West Indies in 1995. Blewett scored 69 in the final Test of that series, batting with Steve Waugh during his match-winning 200, as the under-strength team captured the Frank Worrell Trophy. Greg will be Cricinfo's expert commentator during the Australia-West Indies series

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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