Tremendous West Indies resistance follows monster Australian innings marred by Travis Head misfortune
After Australia declared its innings closed with 598 runs on the board in Perth, buoyed by two double centuries and a 99, you could have been forgiven for presuming the West Indies batters would get their chance in the middle and drop like flies.
Long gone are the days in which the might of the West Indies had opposition teams trembling with fear, and Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon combine for a spectacular bowling unit.
But what followed was a tremendous 25-over resistance from West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite and debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul, who ensured the tourists reached stumps on day two of the first Test at 0-74.
Chanderpaul, despite being rocked by a vicious Josh Hazlewood delivery to the groin, finished the day with 47 runs from 73 balls, and Brathwaite compiled 18 from 79.
“A statement from the West Indies,” Ian Smith said on the Fox Cricket coverage.
“A little round of applause from (West Indies icon) Brian Lara down the end of the commentary box.”
Kerry O’Keeffe was also left marvelling.
“We saw two double centuries, a brilliant 99 from Travis Head, yet the talk is all of this pair — and so be it,” O’Keeffe said.
“Tremendous effort by the openers. Take a bow, boys.”
The magnificent opening partnership followed double centuries by Marnus Labuschagne, who peeled off 204 from 350, and Steve Smith, who made 200 from 311.
Smith posted his 29th Test century to equal the tally of Sir Donald Bradman.
Windies debutant hit in the groin
Travis Head batted brilliantly but will go to bed lamenting a loose shot, having chopped a Brathwaite delivery onto the stumps on 99.
One ball after Smith brought up his double ton with a prod to point off Brathwaite’s bowling, Head fell while trying to run the ball to third man.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lara said.
“He must be very, very disappointed, Travis Head.”
But there’s no denying the major dominance of Australia’s position in the first Test.
Two Australians scored 200 or more in the same Test innings for only the fifth time in history, with Labuschagne and Smith becoming the first pair to do so since Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke in 2012.
While Australia is gunning for victory in the opening Test of the summer, the match has realistically reached a point where the West Indies’ best result possible is a draw.
“I feel like if Australia do get a wicket … it will be very difficult for a new batsman to come in against that sort of quality of bowling,” Mark Waugh said.
“We got it nice and full and we got driven a couple of times, which is fine,” Josh Hazlewood said.
“We gave it a chance and they batted well, to their credit.”