Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth
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Twelve millimetres of grass have been left on the Optus Stadium pitch for the first Test between Australia and West Indies starting on Wednesday, with head curator Isaac McDonald tipping "good pace and bounce" from the surface.
Fireworks are expected as both teams are blessed with explosive pace attacks. There is also the notion of the visitors' batting crumbling against Australia's star-studded trio of quicks, who dominated the two previous Tests at this ground: against India in 2018, and New Zealand in 2019. But West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite believes they can still defy those expectations.
"We want to bat [for] 100 overs, the main focus is to have discipline," he told reporters on the eve of the Test. "We have batsmen that can get on with it, so it's not to stop them. It's for them to do the processes throughout the entire innings. It's not to change anyone's game.
"I think [batting] time is always great to have in Test cricket... to believe they can do it. We know Australia is a superior team. We have to play ten days of hard cricket, that's our main focus."
"He will do extremely well at this higher level," Brathwaite said, having played 18 Tests in the company of Shivnarine during the early part of his career. "He has a lot of patience, and a good defence. He was an example for us in the first game, and we take a leaf out of his book for the series. I think Tag will do a fantastic job, and let's hope he can do even greater things than his father."
Brathwaite also said middle-order batter Jermaine Blackwood would be available for the Perth Test after suffering a nasty blow to the head during training on Monday, and that fast bowler Jayden Seales had overcome a knee issue. But West Indies will be without allrounder Raymon Reifer due to a groin injury for at least the first Test, with their final line-up still undetermined.
Having "started the process" towards a red-ball cricket renaissance with home series victories over England and Bangladesh earlier in the year, West Indies are eyeing a drought-breaking triumph in Australia, where they haven't won a Test match since February 1997.
And as classic battles between the teams from the 1990s enjoy reruns on Australian pay television ahead of the series, nostalgia is swelling for the Frank Worrell Trophy's heyday when it was a marquee series, and was fiercely contested.
"We know Test cricket is real cricket," Brathwaite said. "As a team, we want to do well for the Caribbean, and want youngsters to play Test cricket for West Indies. Obviously we were great in the past, and we use it as motivation to get to that level. If we stick together as a group, we can improve and get to those great levels."
Brathwaite also hoped that a competitive series would lead to more regular fixtures between Australia and West Indies after just five Tests between them in the previous seven-plus years. The last of them came in Sydney, on West Indies' tour to Australia in 2015-16; they have played England in as many as 12 Tests since.
"We play England quite often... once we play more [against Australia] often, I think it would be much better," Brathwaite said. "Playing Australia quite often would be good for us to challenge ourselves against one of the best teams in the world. We are aiming to get back to that standard, but this trophy still means a lot to us."