West Indies v Australia, 5th ODI, St Kitts July 6, 2008

Australia cruise to 5-0 series win

The Bulletin by Brydon Coverdale

Australia 341 for 8 (Symonds 66, Ronchi 64, D Hussey 52, M Hussey 51, Sarwan 3-57, Edwards 3-86) beat West Indies 172 (Findlay 59*, Johnson 5-29) by 169 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out


David Hussey pounded the second-fastest half-century by an Australian in a one-day international © AFP
 

In a series that has been as one-sided as a Möbius strip, it was somehow appropriate that Australia saved their biggest victory for the final match. They completed a rare ODI cleansweep in the Caribbean with a 169-run thrashing of West Indies and in the process highlighted their enviable depth as Luke Ronchi and David Hussey made two of the fastest half-centuries in one-day international history.

Both men were batting for only the second time in ODIs and their destructive striking suggested that they will become valuable members of the evolving limited-overs side. Ronchi stunned the Warner Park crowd with a 22-ball fifty that was briefly the second-fastest by an Australian in an ODI, but he was quickly bumped down the list when Hussey completed his in only 19 deliveries.

The two men were major contributors to Australia's monster score of 341 for 8, which was their highest ever against West Indies, and the home team never looked like making a successful chase. Mitchell Johnson ended what had been a disheartening tour for him personally on a high with 5 for 29 as Australia became only the third team to wrap up an ODI whitewash against West Indies in the Caribbean.

Johnson was handed the new ball instead of Nathan Bracken and made the most of the opportunity, drawing an edge behind from Chris Gayle and deceiving Ramnaresh Sarwan with a slower ball that had West Indies in trouble at 21 for 2. From there it was a steady decline and the only real bright spot for West Indies was the innings of Shawn Findlay, who in his second match showed some much-needed resolve to finish unbeaten on 59. Johnson returned to grab the final three wickets and earned his second ODI five-wicket haul.

West Indies fizzled out for 172 and it was a limp end from a team whose only strong effort in the series came at the same venue on Friday when they lost by one run. On that occasion they were chasing 283; this time the task was way too tall. Australia's 341 was the sort of score they posted in St Kitts three times in last year's World Cup. For a team used to playing on huge expanses like the MCG, the dimensions of the tiny Warner Park were unlikely to contain their powerful strikers.

Most pleasing for a team being led by an inexperienced captain was that the brightest stars were fringe players. Ronchi, the owner of the fastest domestic one-day century in Australia, brought his skills to the international stage with a 28-ball 64 that justified the captain Michael Clarke's decision to promote him to No. 3. No bowler was safe as Ronchi clubbed six sixes in an innings that will keep the incumbent wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on his toes. He gorged on Gayle's offspin, slamming three drives over the long-off boundary in one over, and he muscled Fidel Edwards over long-on and midwicket for another pair of sixes.

Ronchi also proved himself capable of more conventional shots. He square-drove when given width and brought up his half-century with a powerful drive wide of mid off against Edwards. The St Kitts crowd has witnessed some amazing strokeplay over the past couple of years - it's the venue where Herschelle Gibbs struck six sixes in an over and Matthew Hayden made the quickest World Cup hundred - and after Ronchi's fireworks they were treated to more of the same from Hussey.

His half-century was one ball short of the Australian ODI record, set by Simon O'Donnell against Sri Lanka in Sharjah in 1989-90. It also consigned Ronchi's effort to equal third, alongside Damien Martyn's mauling of Bangladesh in Cairns in 2002. Hussey was aided by some questionable captaincy from Gayle, who asked Sarwan to bowl the 50th over. Hussey brutally dispatched two of Sarwan's legspinners over midwicket and long on - one of the strikes left the stadium - and against the frontline bowlers he swung wildly and accurately. His urgent approach was only possible because of the earlier hard work of his brother Michael and Andrew Symonds.

The pair calmly built a 113-run partnership that ended when Symonds, on 66, edged behind off Edwards. That brought the Hussey brothers together at the crease for the first time in Australian colours. The pair played much backyard cricket in their Perth home as children and there was a flashback to the days of metal stumps for David when his under-edge to Edwards crashed into the stumps at pace, yet failed to dislodge the bail. It capped off a horror day for Edwards, who finished with 3 for 86 from nine overs.

The only bowler to escape with his reputation intact was Nikita Miller, whose 1 for 38 from ten overs suggested West Indies should persist with him for longer than they often do with slow men. In a series where almost nothing has gone right for West Indies, there were at least positive signs from Miller and Findlay.

For Australia, the tour has allowed a series of fringe players to shine. Shaun Marsh played well for his 49 to add to his 81 on debut a fortnight ago, Ronchi has been brilliant behind the stumps and with the bat, David Hussey has two half-centuries from his only two ODI innings and the reinstated opener Shane Watson was the side's leading run scorer in the five games. To cap it all off, Clarke's first two one-day internationals in charge brought victories. The Champions Trophy in September will be a different challenge but for Australia the future looks bright.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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