How low will the West Indies plummet in Australia?
The West Indies got off to the worst possible tour opener, as they crumbled by 10 wickets against Cricket Australia XI on the fourth day in Brisbane. A commanding performance from the home team saw them almost win the game by an innings margin before the touring skipper, Jason Holder etched out a 79-run eighth wicket stand with Kemar Roach to salvage some pride.
The tourists, who will be playing three Tests Down Under, got an exact idea of what to expect on this Thursday, when the series starts. What was worse for this Windies team was that on a relatively placid track, they got bundled out for less than 250 on both the occasions while the teenagers-studded hosts piled up 444 in the first innings.
The West Indies who are presently at eighth in the ICC table, a whopping 17 points behind the seventh placed Sri Lanka, are likely to have a torrid time Down Under, as they face off against the extreme pace of the Aussie quicks, who recently completed a series win over the Kiwis.
Jason Holder-led squad does not feature an experienced campaigner, barring Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor. The big absentees like Dwayne Bravo and Shiv Chanderpaul will definitely put them under intense pressure.
The inexperienced opening duo of Kraigg Brathwaite and Rajendra Chandrika will have their work cut out against James Pattinson and Josh Hazelwood, who are are tough to get away on hard, bouncy Australian tracks.
A lot of onus would still lie upon Holder, Samuels and Ramdin as they will be called into action more often than anybody else to salvage the team’s situation.
The West Indies fast bowling would be a major concern for coach Phil Simmons, as the trio of Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Taylor are far away from their prime and their inconsistency against the top-heavy Australian line-up might cost them initiatives and chances throughout the series.
Jomel Warrican, who made an impressive debut against Sri Lanka, simply adds up to the inexperience of the squad. If they are to check the Aussie run flow, their spinners will have to be super-consistent, which hasn’t been how they have performed, for some time now.
The WI Board’s circumspect approach of sending two back-up wicket-keepers to Dinesh Ramdin, rather than vesting for specialist batters like the Tridents opener Jonathan Carter, might prove to be a bad gamble, considering their weak batting prospects and their abysmally poor record away from home.
Coming to their record, they are the woeful tourists over the last fifteen years, winning only eight of the seventy matches they have played. Ever since the India series pull-out which consequently led to the sacking of many key players, their track record has even got worse and has now come to a point where even securing a draw has become an insurmountable task for them.
Having lost all the five away games in South Africa and Sri Lanka, earlier in November, things look pretty much set for another whitewash, this time at the hands of a some-what depleted but ferocious Aussies.
As for the Aussies, barring their strong squad and the very recent thrashing of their Trans-Tasman rivals, they would be eyeing the top slot in the ICC Test Championship, which has now seen a lot of changes thanks to India beating the Proteas 3-0 and leapfrogging Australia into second place.
If Australia can pull off a 3-0 scoreline and Proteas lose to England in their upcoming home Test series starting from Boxing Day, they can win this year’s Test Championship mace.
Now that Mitchell Johnson has retired and Mitch Starc is out of the series, West Indies would somewhat fancy their chances but their inconsistent bowling and under-cooked fielding dynamics would be easy meat for the likes of Warner, Burns and Smith, who amongst them have the capability to decimate an entire attack, especially on home turf.
The way Australia’s new opening duo has been performing, even against quality seam attack like the Kiwis, it would take something exceptionally extraordinary for the West Indies fast-bowling trio to create any major woes in the Aussie ranks.
Warner, who has scored three tons (including a double ton), in the recently concluded Kiwis series will be a man they will need to keep quiet.
For the Windies, even their best efforts and competitive sessions in the odd Test match might not be enough, as they are up against an impenetrable wall and all they can prevent at most, is a whitewash, which looks pretty much on the cards.