West Indies aim to level series
Thursday, June 12 to Monday, June 16, 2008
Start time 10.00 (local), 14.00 (GMT)
The Big PictureThe Frank Worrell Trophy remains in Australian hands but the series result is still uncertain. West Indies enter the third Test hoping to clinch a 1-1 draw, which would be a major boost for a team that has struggled during the past decade. They gave Australia a tight contest in the first Test before falling away on the final day to lose by 95 runs, and in the second match a determined batting display from Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul sealed a draw that could easily have been a loss. The inclusion of their captain Chris Gayle, who missed the first two Tests with a groin injury, could further narrow the gap between West Indies and Australia.
Test form guideWest Indies - DLWLL
Australia - DWDLW
Gayle will make his long-awaited return after hurting his groin during the ODI series against Sri Lanka and West Indies should also regain the promising opener Sewnarine Chattergoon, who has had a shoulder problem. That will mean some reshuffling to their top order and the out-of-form Devon Smith has already lost his place. Xavier Marshall or Runako Morton may have to miss out as well and despite Morton's impressive 67 in the first Test he could be the unfortunate one. West Indies' other decision is whether to include the spinner Sulieman Benn. They did not choose a slow bowler in Antigua and the five-man pace attack became too predictable. But on a Bridgetown pitch expected to offer bounce and speed, there is no guarantee Benn will be given a chance this time.
West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Sewnarine Chattergoon, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Xavier Marshall, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Daren Powell, 11 Fidel Edwards.
The left-arm wrist-spinner Beau Casson will become Australia's 401st Test cricketer and he will be the third slow bowler Australia have used in Tests since Shane Warne's retirement. The inclusion of Casson as a replacement for the newly retired Stuart MacGill should be Australia's only change. Luke Ronchi, the backup wicketkeeper who was flown to the Caribbean in case Brad Haddin's broken finger kept him out of the match, will have to sit on the sidelines after Haddin was named in the team.
Australia 1 Phil Jaques, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Andrew Symonds, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Brett Lee, 9 Beau Casson, 10 Mitchell Johnson, 11 Stuart Clark.
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Mark Benson.
Watch out for ...Shivnarine Chanderpaul If West Indies' top order is stronger it will reduce the pressure on Chanderpaul, who has carried the batting through the first two Tests. Australia are having major problems getting him out and his patience is testing theirs. They have only dismissed him twice in the series - once when he slogged a MacGill full toss going for quick runs - and his Test average in the past 12 months is a Bradmanesque 99.55.
Beau Casson Hardly a household name within Australia let alone outside it, Casson faces the challenge of stepping into the shoes vacated by Warne, MacGill and Brad Hogg. A strong debut from Casson, 25, will give Australia confidence that their spin stocks are not as bare as many critics suggest, but a disappointing effort will only increase the concerns ahead of their next Test series in India later this year.
Pitch & conditionsAfter a couple of slower pitches to open the series, a fast and bouncy Kensington Oval surface is expected. The ground was redeveloped ahead of last year's World Cup - it hosted the final - and this will be the first Test held at the ground since that work was done. Brett Lee will enjoy the favourable conditions having toiled hard for some impressive results on the tamer pitches in Jamaica and Antigua.
Weather: Rain and poor drainage contributed to the draw in Antigua and the forecast is not promising in Barbados either. Showers are predicted for at least the first four days.
Stats and triviaIt was hard to believe Chanderpaul could improve on his phenomenal 2007 calendar year, when he averaged 111.60 and earned a Wisden Cricketer of the Year title. But in his past five Test innings Chanderpaul has nearly doubled that average and he has made 399 runs at 199.50. That will drop quickly if Australia dismiss him cheaply, a task that is easier said than done.
Last time Australia visited Kensington Oval it was a memorable occasion. They won the World Cup there in April last year, celebrating in the dark after the umpires were responsible for a farcical finish. One of the on-field officials in charge of that game, Aleem Dar, will be standing in this Test and might have some unwanted flashbacks if he has need to check his light meter.
Quotes"It is going to be the best pitch we're going to be playing on this series. There is going to be a bit more bounce and pace in it, it's going to be very good for batting."
West Indies' captain Chris Gayle
"We get that every day at home. I don't think there are going to be too many Aussie batsmen having sleepless nights going into the game."
Australia's captain Ricky Ponting
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo