Venue – Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Date: Thursday, December 8
The final game of this tour of Australia by the West Indies is the second of two Test matches. The tour started in October, with the Windies playing a pair of warmup matches in the T20I format before that World Cup. It was a World Cup that did not go their way – they failed to get out of the initial group stage – and after losing both of those warmup matches too, the Tests needed to be where their redemption came.
That is not what happened in the first Test out in Perth, as Australia ran out as convincing winners by 164 runs. Batting first, the Aussies put up almost 600 runs, declaring on 598 after the loss of four wickets. The star was Marnus Labuschagne, who made 204 from 350 balls. After the Windies were bowled out for 283, Australia went to work again. Labuschagne hit another century, as the Aussies declared on 182/2, giving them plenty of time to get through the Windies’ resistance and win.
There were signs that the West Indies can compete in this series – in their batting at least – as Kraigg Brathwaite top scored with 110, and they put up a stubborn initial resistance before being bowled out for 333.
The intrigue in the Australian camp surrounds the health of skipper Pat Cummings. Cummings didn’t bowl in the second innings of the first Test, and when he was called upon to work in the field, his movement looked painful and laboured. The injury sustained during his bowling spell is being called a quad strain and is being treated as day-to-day.
If Cummings cannot go, the player bought into camp will make the Test worth watching on his own. Lance Morris is the quickest bowler in the country, and he is often bowling at over 150k/h for Western Australia. While it is likely that Scott Boland – who was already with the squad – will replace Cummings, watch out if Morris is given the call.
The West Indies may have shown plenty of spirit in Perth, but this team wants more than just moral victories. Injuries to Nkrumah Bonner (concussion), Kyle Mayers (shoulder), and Kemar Roach (hamstring) have severely limited their option, with Bonner seen as almost certain to miss out.
Players waiting in the wings include an uncapped – and exciting – option in Marquino Mindley, along with the always rapid Anderson Phillip. Either way, the bowling attack must be better after the Windies picked up just six wickets total in Perth, and Labuschagne took them to school.
I cannot see the West Indies winning this. Even at full strength, they are steps below Australia at this point, and the injuries they have show the lack of quality depth in Caribbean cricket currently. Labuschagne is 3/1 to be the top batsman, which feels like a steal, considering how dominant he was in the first Test. If Boland is given the go-ahead to play, then I like him at 33/10 as a shot at top bowler for the Aussies too.