Second Test Match


At Sydney, November 29, 30, December 1, 2, 3, Australia won by 124 runs. Toss: Australia. Test debut: J. N. Gillespie.

Trailing by merely 27 on first innings, West Indies threw away a position of near-equality with a fielding display of such incompetence that, even when Mark Waugh and Elliott were lying dazed on the ground after a head-on collision, neither was run out. Left again to negotiate survival rather than campaign for victory, the tourists failed, despite an astonishing rearguard innings from Chanderpaul. Lara, sadly, put up a better fight in the dressing-room than on the field as Australia established a 2-0 lead.

Greg Blewett and newcomer Jason Gillespie had replace the injured Steve Waugh and Reiffel. West Indies were unchanged. Recent innings by pop star Michael Jackson and the Aussie Rules team Sydney Swans had raised apprehensions about the state of the SCG. In the event, pitch and outfield were both like Jackson - a bit of everything in complexion, familiarly eccentric in performance.

The home openers made a merry start, raising 50 before drinks, but, once the new ball's shine dulled, the match was played at an attritional pace: 263 was the most scored on any day. The West Indians reduced Australia to 131 for five - only once in the series did they reach 200 before losing their fifth first-innings wicket - but Blewett and the redoubtable Healy came to the rescue with a stand of 93. Although both fell early next morning, the tail wagged on so that the last five wickets added 200, including 43 for the last between Gillespie and McGrath, who looked aggrieved to be ruled lbw - the only such dismissal for Australia in the first two Tests, compared with nine for West Indies. Walsh took five wickets, but there were none for Ambrose.

Twice in their first innings - at 92 for nought and 229 for four - West Indies were poised to take charge. But both times McGrath reasserted Australia's dominance with a double burst of wickets, including Lara with a superb away-cutter and Adams and Browne with split-finger slower balls he had learned from Craig McDermott. Campbell and Chanderpaul were staunch and Bishop clattered 48, as West Indies reached their first total over 300 in six Tests against Australia.

Two wickets for Bishop that night meant that Elliott and Mark Waugh made necessarily cautious progress on the fourth morning until a moment of mayhem just before lunch. Both changed course as they ran between wickets, neither saw the other, and they collided. Waugh was temporarily stunned, but Elliott - who was batting with great authority - tore a knee cartilage, retired hurt and did not appear again in the series. Somehow West Indies botched the run-out, the nadir of a day of fielding slapstick. It took a heavy toll on morale; Bishop, who had bowled six overs for two runs in the first session, bowled three for 29 in the last. The batsmen exploited this raggedness, stepping up the pace to almost five an over. At Taylor's declaration, West Indies were left 340 to win or a day and a bit to hold out. Waugh opened the bowling with off-spin.

Still this series would not conform to a pattern. West Indies lost three wickets in 20 balls on the last morning, the last of them Lara, who was so sure Healy had not taken the low catch cleanly that - still in his pads - he went to the Australian dressing-room to protest. Manager Clive Lloyd later apologised, though Lara remained unrepentant.

Meanwhile, the elfin Chanderpaul struck back with such abandon that Warne had to be removed from the attack. He reached 50 from just 38 balls and, with Hooper, put on 117 in a bare 95 minutes. That rate of scoring might have delivered victory. But Warne returned and, on the stroke of lunch, conjured a ball that, had it held its line, would have gone to slip; instead, it rounded wickedly on Chanderpaul and cannoned from his pad into his stumps. An hour later, Bevan's wrong'un fooled not just Hooper, but Taylor at slip. He dropped the snick, kicked it up with his foot as he fell and caught it flat on his back Taylor got up again; West Indies did not.

Man of the Match: G. D. McGrath. Attendance: 79,581.

Close of play: First day, Australia 224-5 (G. S. Blewett 58*, I. A. Healy 44*); Second day, West Indies 156-3 (C. L. Hooper 27*, S. Chanderpaul 3*); Third day, Australia 77-2 (M. T. G. Elliott 45*, M. E. Waugh 2*); Fourth day, West Indies 27-0 (S. L. Campbell 13*, R. G. Samuels 12*).

© John Wisden & Co