Australia vs West Indies first cricket Test: Short course could whet appetite for leftover pies

The chairman of the national selection panel, in attempting to assign his own perspective to the day-night Test match, reckoned that Peter Nevill’s first innings top score of 66 was worth double, as was Shaun Marsh’s 49 in the second dig.

Which made Nathan Lyon’s 34 surely Bradmanlike.

I guess you may as well double all the runs made, halve the wickets and triple the catches, a Test match revolution to rival Twenty20 cricket brought about not so much by a pink ball and floodlights but manipulation of the numbers.

Cricketers of any level can’t hide from their statistics. That is what the notion of averages is all about.

You take the easily made runs with the softening Kookaburra in perfect batting conditions along with runs not made when the Duke is talking up a swing melody.

Besides, the Adelaide Test was a very watchable, wicket-taking revelation compared with the previous two. I wonder will the next step be to divide the runs made by the Australian batsmen at Bellerive by the temperature on Friday, plus Jason Holder’s shoe size, minus Marlon Samuel’s boredom index.

The West Indian bowling was scary, not “bruising, break some bone scary”, not “every ball could get you out” scary but, as my old opening batsman John Dyson, used to say on those rare excursions onto flat pitches facing third-string bowlers, you were simply too scared to get out and miss the party.

Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh spent all day and night at the party, imbibing deeply with scarcely a hint of a hangover.

The selectors now have a peg to hang their persistent but oft-questioned choice of Marsh firmly on. He has made a big hundred and that is all that can be asked of him.

It is scarcely his fault if the attack needed a denominator to truly express the value of his score. Runs were being gifted to batsmen who had to peer into the distance to find most of the fieldsmen. There was no pressure from fieldsmen posted to block infield runs or force a stroke away from the orthodox and little threat from the actual deliveries.

Make no mistake: this was a very good batting surface and had the new wave of toss prohibitionists been in vogue or Jason Holder called differently the West Indies may have made a first day score themselves.

Not 438 though, and not for the loss of three wickets.

The value of Voges’ and Marsh’s runs was clear; they shared a significant partnership that put the Australian team in a strong position. The numerator stands by itself. The value of Darren Bravo and Kemar Roach’s partnership late on day two could be measured not simply by runs. As they negotiated their way through some testing seam and crafty spin with studied defences, play and misses and positive strokeplay the gate takers and caterers were urging a Windies resurgence.

At 6-116 after skipper Holder was seen off by umpire Marais Erasmus with a nod and a wink from the non-striker, a two-day Test was looking a strong possibility.

A weekend with no pie or hot dog sales would be disastrous for the local businesses, and another nail in the coffin of Bellerive as a Test venue.

The manner in which the top order folded, with the aid of a pitch just starting to give a tad of uneven bounce and Nathan Lyon a smidgen sideways to go with his ever-present extra vertical, was not up to Test standard, so in that respect it at least matched their bowling. Darren Bravo’s innings certainly was up to standard. He and Roach may not have saved the Test match but they saved their teammates from serious professional and personal embarrassment. They combined decent techniques and patience with some old-fashioned ticker and for a while Australia had to struggle. There was a lesson for some closer to the top of the order about care and respect for your wicket. The second innings was barely worth mentioning.

The talk from the Windies coaching staff trying to make an underdog believe they could perform beyond their limits worked for precious few.

The Australian attack may have been without their new leader in Mitchell Starc but this gave James Pattinson the opportunity to express the coach’s mantra with his pace. Maybe he tried a bit too hard on the second day, concentrating more on the radar readings than getting the fundamentals of line and length correct. Such is the impetuosity of youth, especially that which is put on bowling rations by those who think workloads rather than skill are the secret to making a champion.

His spell on the third morning was destructive. He followed the tenet of “length and line and you’ll be fine” and used that variation in bounce to full effect.

His speed was below his top but he made the batsmen play and they often missed.

The Pattinson-Josh Hazlewood opening combination followed by Peter Siddle bit relentlessly.

A rout inside three days reduces the workload delightfully; they now might have to eat all the leftover pies.

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