The law of averages suggests that West Indies' cricketers are due for a win over Australia in the near future. But the law of the cricketing jungle tells a very different story. Because, in thrashing their opponents by nine wickets with more than six overs to spare in the teams' Carlton Series match here in Brisbane tonight, the hosts showed that the West Indians are no closer now to defeating them than they have been at any stage of this wretched tour.
The extent of imbalance between these teams remains so manifest that records continue to fall by the wayside too. There were a brace of new marks set tonight, a flurry of them arriving as openers Mark Waugh (112*) and Adam Gilchrist (98) slaughtered a ragged attack and set about making a mockery of the total of 8/234 that had been established by their opponents earlier in the day. Waugh and Gilchrist compiled a partnership of 206 for the first wicket to shatter previous bests for opening partnerships for Australia against West Indies; for Australia at the 'Gabba; for Australia in all home one-day internationals; and for any team on Australian soil.
It was all demoralising enough for the West Indians but what made it even worse was that stand-in Australian captain Gilchrist should have been caught by Wavell Hinds when he had a mere two runs alongside his name.
Hinds had been one of the stars of the first session of the day, top scoring with a doughty fifty-four as wickets fell around him. But he could barely have started the evening session in any more humiliating style. From just the sixth ball of the Australian innings, he was presented with one of the easiest catches imaginable as Gilchrist (on 2 at the time) spooned a Nixon McLean (0/38 off 9.4 overs) delivery in his direction at mid on. Somehow, Hinds contrived to juggle and then grass the ball as he attempted to bring it down into his chest from head height. It might have been fractionally more difficult than a chance that he also missed in the Leeds Test against England last year but this was almost as simple as catches ever come.
By the time that Gilchrist was finally removed - ironically, courtesy of a lovely diving catch from Laurie Williams at backward point - more than two-and-a-half hours later, the West Indians were crushed both physically and mentally. Amid the torrent of strokes from the two attacking opening batsmen, they looked a completely spent force.
"After the initial opening, where they bowled well, they couldn't put any pressure on us," said Waugh in a testament to the extent of the West Indians' difficulties.
"It was (merely) a matter of knocking the ball around. But it's always nice to win and we'll keep taking that," he added.
Earlier, Hinds (54), Jimmy Adams (44) and Ridley Jacobs (44*) had produced fighting performances to lead their team to its respectable, albeit ultimately inadequate, scoreline. Sherwin Campbell (0) disappeared in the first over, Brian Lara (19) went in the eleventh, and Marlon Samuels (20) was also back in the pavilion before so many as twenty overs had been delivered. But Hinds held the top half of the innings together nicely before finally losing concentration and driving a return catch back to leg spinner Shane Warne (who claimed 3/41 from ten controlled overs). Adams kept things steady in the middle before mistiming a hook at Brett Lee (1/40 off seven) to be well caught by Damien Martyn on the deep backward square leg boundary. And then Jacobs added some polish to the batting in the closing overs to lift the score to a far more competitive mark than might have been imagined when the tourists fell to a mark of 6/174 at the end of forty overs.
All the while, though, the run scoring rate never exceeded five per over. On a pitch favouring the batting team, that probably said much in itself about the hold that the Australians managed to maintain. Around comparatively expensive spells from pacemen Glenn McGrath (1/42 from ten), the returning Lee and Nathan Bracken (1/46 off eight), spinners Warne and Andrew Symonds (0/36 from ten) were chiefly responsible for this. Part-time medium pacer Ricky Ponting (1/28 from five overs) was also an early surprise packet and struck a critical blow for the Australians when his very first delivery had Lara outside edging a catch to the wicketkeeper.
In a season in which they have already created much history for themselves, the Australians were headed toward establishing yet another new landmark in the process. Having been beaten on all six occasions that they had previously met West Indies in the one-day international arena at the 'Gabba (a losing record that had stretched all the way back to the 1981-82 season), they emphatically erased that unfortunate legacy.
As a consequence of straining a groin muscle in the team warm-up, Australian captain Steve Waugh was actually not among the eleven that completed the win. But it scarcely seemed to matter; Gilchrist was sharp in the field, sharp with the bowling changes, and then sharp with the bat following his fortuitous early escape. He again seemed to revel in the experience of leading his country, applying a midas touch to just about everything his side did.
By contrast, the West Indians were brought to their knees in debilitating style. An innings of fits-and-starts with the bat was supplanted by an innings of disasters in the field and with the ball. Murphy's Law was about the only code applicable to their performance by then.