West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Barbados, 3rd day June 14, 2008

Jaques discovers perfect timing

Cricinfo staff


Phil Jaques stepped up with a fine century in a 223-run partnership with Simon Katich © AFP
 

Two years ago Phil Jaques was trying to steal Simon Katich's position in the one-day team and not even a 94 on debut was enough to secure a regular opening. Now the situation has changed and Jaques is being hunted by Katich, who has registered back-to-back centuries as Matthew Hayden's fill-in.

So it was essential for Jaques to make a significant contribution in the final Test of the series to ensure he will remain the first choice alongside Matthew Hayden in India in October. Jaques has improved with each match in the Caribbean - his 9 and 4 in the first contest were followed by 17 and 76 in the second - and his 108 went with 31 on Thursday.

Jaques, who is in his 11th Test, said it was an important innings as he tries to secure his place. "Definitely, especially when you've got a guy like Simon breathing down your neck," Jaques said after play. "He's knocking the door down and playing some really good cricket.

"We all know Matthew Hayden is coming back into the team at some point. We've both been trying to make every post a winner and make as many runs as possible."

While Jaques was picking up his third Test century, Katich was on his way to an unbeaten 148 as Australia finished the third day at 330 for 3. It was Katich's fourth career hundred, following the 113 in Antigua, and the pair completed an outstanding opening stand of 223.

"I was just grateful to be on the tour as an extra batsman," Katich told Reuters. "The opportunity to play has been great because I felt that I was ready to play well given my form in the last couple of years. But I obviously know that when Matt is back in the team, he and Jaquesy have done a great job, so I'll just have to bide my time."

The work of Sulieman Benn, who has 1 for 107, impressed Katich on a day when West Indies managed only three wickets. "The left-arm spinner bowled pretty well," Katich said. "He set some pretty good fields and he gets a bit of bounce. The quicks all stuck to their job. I think they have stuck to it all series."

Jaques knew he had to lift to keep up with his New South Wales team-mate. "It was a bit of a slow start," he said. "I've been hitting the ball well all series and got better and better as the series has gone on. It was good to make some runs today."

Australia's main problem will be working out when to declare. The lead is already 365 and they still have seven wickets and two days remaining as they attempt to finish the series with a 2-0 win.

"It's a great start and hopefully we can build on that in the morning," Jaques said. "Hopefully we can set a lead that will be really hard to get."

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