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If On A Winter's Night


I’ve written in the past that recent tours to Australia have provided the best litmus test to where things stand in the now-incredibly pretzled world of West Indian cricket. The winter of 2009/2010 shall be no different and in light of recent administrative dramatics, there is little reason to hope for much - yet I gotta’ feeling about this one folks.

Thirty years ago, Clive Lloyd’s burgeoning band of world-beaters visited Greg Chappell’s wary troupe ‘dan ander’. With Packer in the rearview, the Windies had still lost just one series in the four years since their 5-1 hiding by a peaking Australia. This time around, the tour had the air of a coronation and crackled the Christmas atmosphere as this writer huddled with his brother near the family living-room radio to hear the ball-by-ball frolic unfold (heavily sponsored TV highlights would follow on the weekend – good old days my arse). Long story short: Windies 2 - Oz 0, all hail the fully credentialed kings.

All those many moons later the Windies come across a similarly wary Australia, no longer #1 but desperately holding it together. There is no chance of a coronation as our current combination is literally untested against all Test nations. However, a beautifully balanced team is what has been selected and save for one or two concerns (Gayle as a representation of leadership? Really. Benn as a representation of regional spin quality? Really), I expect the West Indies to acquit themselves very, very well.

As much as Australia have remained the more prepared team, I fear they still possess no match winning bowlers and with Symonds gone, those early innings collapses shall not be saved this time around. There is the matter of Ponting, Clarke and Johnson. However, save for one or two mega-tons between them, I see the potential exploitation of that lean Aussie middle and lower order by a surprisingly varied and experienced Windies seam attack. The batting also finally possesses the correct mix of experienced hands and ripe debutantes (Shiv and Bharath) to make this jaded observer once again tingle with half-forgotten anticipation. The selectors have it almost right, now let us hope for some grit and execution and voila! Uncredentialed kings perhaps but we shall not complain.

The West Indian Test squad for Australia: Chris Gayle (capt), Adrian Barath, Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Travis Dowlin, Brendan Nash, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor, Gavin Tonge.

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