Non-playing member of West Indies staff tests positive
Australia were ready to bat before abrupt postponement
Australia’s remaining one-day internationals in the Caribbean and imminent T20 series in Bangladesh have been cast into doubt after a positive Covid-19 test in Barbados.
The second ODI against the West Indies on Friday morning (AEST) was postponed in bizarre and dramatic circumstances before a ball could be bowled after one of the host’s backroom staff tested positive for the virus.
West Indies 199-8; Australia 183-9 | West Indies win by 16 runs
Hosts underline dominance as they take series 4-1
West Indies batsman Evin Lewis blasted 79 runs off 34 balls as the Twenty20 world champions defeated Australia by 16 runs in the fifth game in St Lucia to win the series 4-1 and send out a warning to rivals ahead of this year’s World Cup.
Chasing 200 to win, Australia made a solid start despite losing Josh Philippe in the first over as skipper Aaron Finch (34) and Mitchell Marsh (30) took charge, but the visitors lost their way after the duo departed to finish at 183-9 in 20 overs.
Gayle blasts 67 from 38 balls including seven sixes
West Indies take unassailable 3-0 lead in five-match series
Australia suffered a fourth straight Twenty20 international cricket series loss after Chris Gayle returned to form for the West Indies in St Lucia. The home team took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, winning by six wickets after reaching their target of 142 in 14.5 overs.
Gayle, who became the first player to score 14,000 T20 runs, smashed 67 off 38 balls. It was the 41-year-old’s highest score in 20 T20 internationals since 2016.
Chris Gayle reaches 14,000 T20 runs with 67 off 38 balls
West Indies take unassailable 3-0 lead in five-match series
That match was a lot of fun tonight, a bit of everything. West Indies have the series wrapped but, but Australia have two more matches to try to get something out of this contest for themselves. Thursday morning Australian time will be the next engagement, Wednesday evening in the Caribbean. We’ll do it all again.
Nicholas Pooran: “Top game. We kept asking for improvement, how can we get better, and tonight we came out and executing our plans with bat and ball. [Gayle] had a long speech just now, there’s a reason why he’s scored 14,000 T20 runs, he’s the greatest batsman to play the game. Very pleased for him personally. [Winning as captain] only happened because of the bunch of guys we have here, a very special group of guys, I can’t ask for better T20 cricketers around me, the experience and knowledge in that dressing room. I know [Pollard] is listening and is watching, he’s my mentor, and this is a special feeling for him as well. He’s someone who wants to see me do well. I’m sure he didn’t guess that 3-0 we’d win this series. But he’s been sharing with me the last couple of days about bowling, batting, making decisions under pressure.”
Aaron Finch: “Same as the other games, we just haven’t had the top order go on. Myself getting out in back to back wickets, exposing two new players towards the back end. It’s been quite similar the whole way through. Credit to West Indies, they bowled beautifully, towards the end there they denied us any length to get up and under that short side. They’re an experienced side and they showed it tonight. It’s not through lack of intent. It’s tough. International cricket is hard. We have to be better though. We can’t hide behind that, we’ve been below our best. Our bowling effort was pretty good, our effort in the field was good, our energy was up, but some days you come up against great players and they have a day out.”
This is interesting from Chris Gayle, with dashes of his own humility.It sounds like Pollard gave him a big rev-up before the game today.
“It’s a great journey, I’m so happy, so pleased to actually get a series win first of all. I want to congratulate the stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran on winning a great series against a great team. From a personal point of view, you all knew I was struggling with the bat, so to be able to get some runs today was very pleasing. What was actually pleasing about getting these runs was my teammates. I want to dedicate this milestone to my West Indies teammates, especially Kieron Pollard. We had a team meeting before the game and he stand tall, that’s what a leader should do. He stand tall, regardless of who the person I am, what I’ve achieved, you let me know where I stand within this team. You want me to go and express myself. So I’m very grateful for that pep talk. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how great you are, you need a little bit of talk sometimes. That coming from Kieron Pollard, from Dwayne Bravo who’s been a big supporter in the media, so I’ll comment that our senior guys played a fantastic part in what happened today. With this strength and unity within this team, we played some great all-round cricket, and I’m really happy to win this series.”
There’s the series won for West Indies in straight sets, with stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran in the middle at the end, and hitting the winning runs. They’ve been absolutely dominant since the second innings of the first match. Tonight was another well-rounded bowling performance, as we recapped earlier. Wade started fast but got out too early, as he did in the first match. Carey was lively for five minutes. No one else got much over a run a ball. Finch battled along through more than half the innings. Henriques and Turner did a professional job to get something from the innings, but could never break free.
Then for the reply, it was simply another Gayle match. He’s always been a player who might not come off, and in these his silver years those games are more frequent. But he does still have the capacity to dominate a match like few others, and when that happens there are few ways to stop it. It’s not about the first six from the over; it’s the second and the third and maybe the fourth, different deliveries disappearing in the same way, the seeming powerlessness of those up against him, that’s when bowlers really feel defeated.
14.5 overs: West Indies 142-4 (Pooran 32, Russell 7) Pooran defuses the hat-trick ball with a single, bringing Russell on strike. And of course Andre Russell belts his first ball for six. It’s a no-ball, too! He just belts it cross-batted off a length over long on. Because he can. Only gets a single off the free hit, but Pooran follows up with two boundaries, an extravagant lofted flick over fine leg and a pull shot in front of square, to seal the win.
Meredith rides the rollercoaster. On a hat-trick one minute; six, no-ball, wide, four, four, the next.
Quite the catch from Zampa. Not so much for quality but for comic effect. Not that it was easy, either. Bravo backs away and tries an uppercut, but it’s all top edge. Goes an absolute mile up. Zampa is coming across from inside the circle behind point, and running outside the circle tracking under that ball. As it comes down it nearly eludes him and he throws out an arm, kicks up one leg in a Cossack dance style, and somehow hangs on. For a minute it looks like he’s injured, but in fact he’s just lying on the ground giggling to himself in amusement that he took the catch.
13th over: West Indies 124-3 (Pooran 23, Bravo 7) We have a long and silly delay for replays to see whether Pooran’s shot clipped Starc’s fingers en route to the non-striker’s stumps. Silly because, after many replays, the third umpire finally looks at the side on view and finds that Bravo’s bat was grounded. Surely there could be a faster path to that obvious conclusion. Starc stands waiting at the top of his mark for minutes, he knows that it isn’t out. When he finally bowls, Pooran drives behind point for four.
12th over: West Indies 116-3 (Pooran 18, Bravo 4) Hazlewood back, Bravo out there, and he takes a couple of balls to settle, getting through an lbw shout for a ball striking too high on the pad, before playing an immaculate back-foot punch through cover for four.
Just 26 to win now.
11th over: West Indies 109-3 (Pooran 15) Nicholas Pooran has gone four overs without needing to score. He’s barely faced a ball. He adds a single here, just needs to feed Gayle the strike. Gayle, meanwhile, hit more sixes in one over than Australia hit in their innings. And he keeps going. Short from Meredith, Gayle again backs away just that tiny shuffle that gives him space, and heaves it leg side. Lots of top edge, but so much power that it lands on the roof of the grandstand. Next ball, full and six again. HUGE, that one! Over the back of the grandstand this time, picked up off the pads and going a mile up in the air.
And finally, from the last ball of the over, Meredith tries a slower bouncer outside the off stump, and Gayle gets a fat edge that skips through to Wade behind the stumps. That was 67 from 38 balls, with seven sixes.
11th over: West Indies 93-2 (Gayle 54, Pooran 13) Outside edge from Gayle. His charmed life continues. Doesn’t read Zampa’s googly, nicks it over the keeper and away for four. But Gayle reads the next one. Knows every micron. Belts the pull shot onto the hill for six. Australia’s substitute AJ Tye has to climb over there in the orange vest to fetch it.
The next six is even bigger. Zampa goes the googly again but it’s full, no time to turn. Gayle clears the front leg and hits straight, so long it hits the grandstand and bounces back onto the field.
10th over: West Indies 71-2 (Gayle 32, Pooran 13) Once again Gayle looks short of answers against Starc. Pokes at one and gets an outside edge to the keeper along the ground. Then survives a second DRS referral as Starc nails him in the ankle dead in front. Only problem is the ball isn’t swinging back enough, it’s going on straighter and just missing the leg stump. So that’s the second review gone for Australia, and an excellent decision from Umpire Wilson.
Starc goes to the bouncer next, unsurprisingly, then starts swinging it away outside off stump, making sure Gayle can’t go leg side. One wide, and a single guided to deep third - that’s it from the over.
9th over: West Indies 69-2 (Gayle 31, Pooran 13) First ball of the over goes for six once again. Zampa this time, just full enough and Gayle batters it over long on with a straight bat. Doesn’t keep strike though. Zampa has a good lbw appeal against Pooran but as with Starc, the ball is pitching just outside leg. Good decisions from the on-field umps. And like Marsh, a good comeback from Zampa: a single and a wide are the only scores to follow the six.
The six, meanwhile, raises 14,000 runs in all T20 matches for Gayle. With over a thousand sixes. Absurd numbers.
8th over: West Indies 61-2 (Gayle 24, Pooran 13) No time to waste before going after Mitch Marsh! Barely short, that ball, just about the knee roll, but the line is straight and Pooran gets himself low enough that he can come up from under the ball with his pick-up shot. High over square leg for six.
Marsh comes back well though, actually going shorter rather than pushing up, evading the bat or forcing it to hit to his field, conceding two runs from the next five balls.
7th over: West Indies 53-2 (Gayle 23, Pooran 6) Fielding restrictions off, and Zampa on, no spin earlier than this today with no Agar to deliver it. Turner does bowl spin but isn’t exactly like for like with Agar, his Western Australia teammate. Zampa bowls very flat to the left-handers and gets through the over for four singles.
6th over: West Indies 49-2 (Gayle 21, Pooran 4) So nearly two wickets in two balls for Meredith. Finch puts himself at slip, Meredith angles across Pooran and gets the edge, and it goes just wide of the catching position for four. Only leg byes and a wide from the rest of the over. Nicholas Pooran at No4, where Shimron Hetmyer batted in the previous two matches, while Pooran put himself down at No7 and didn’t bat last time out.
Pace does the job. That length ball again, uppercut by Simmons airborne and it carries all the way to deep backward point. Starc leaps up for some reason while taking the catch around chest height, but holds onto it.
5th over: West Indies 42-1 (Simmons 14, Gayle 21) Hazlewood isn’t having an easy time of it. Gayle doesn’t hurt him this over, but Simmons pulls out a helicopter cover drive - if you can’t picture it, imagine a lot of bottom-handed whip on the shot to send it over cover rather than through - that lands just inside the rope for four.
4th over: West Indies 34-1 (Simmons 9, Gayle 20) Meredith on to bowl, Finch wanting to challenge Gayle with pace and a flatter trajectory than Hazlewood’s. It works initially, three dots as Gayle misses, then blocks, then flat-bats to mid off. Meredith nails a yorker and Gayle just keeps it out of his boots, squeezing one run to deep square. Simmons plays a similar shot but gets more on it, with some momentum from stepping outside leg and being followed by Meredith, so his squeeze rolls for four. Then Simmons bosses the sixth ball, length from Meredith, back-cut savagely for four.
3rd over: West Indies 25-1 (Simmons 1, Gayle 19) Finch goes upstairs for a DRS adjudication on an lbw shout, but it was narrowly pitching outside leg stump from Starc, the classic left-armer’s problem with the right-hander. I thought it might have hit him just outside the line as well, and a bit high. Not much going for it, all things considered. Just the leg bye and one run from the over.
2nd over: West Indies 23-1 (Simmons 1, Gayle 18) Hazlewood will partner Starc. He was frugal in the first match, got targeted in the second... and Chris Gayle decides that Hazlewood has to go in the third. Shuffles back a touch and wallops him off a length, over long on for six! The classic Gayle baseball shot. Hazlewood goes more leg side, on the hip, and Gayle pulls him for four. Minimal apparent effort, just timing. Next ball, same again. There’s a sweeper out there now and it beats him anyway. Next ball, over long on for four more. That’s 18 in four balls. A lot of players struggle with Hazlewood’s length, but Gayle, a taller man, has decided that length just means the ball sits up nicely for him.
1st over: West Indies 4-1 (Simmons 0, Gayle 0) At the last World Cup we saw Gayle was definitely hurried up by Starc, didn’t seem to be able to read his pace. Starc isn’t bowling quite as quickly or fiercely right now but it’s still an interesting point, with two more years having elapsed for Gayle too. He makes no attempt to score from Starc here, defending twice and leaving once.
There’s the one they need. Something to start things off. Mitchell Starc gets his first wicket of the series. His second ball is fast on the hip and Fletcher flicks it over short fine for four, one bounce. But the next ball Fletcher tries to on-drive with a lot of power, and skews it off the inside half to midwicket rather than the gap between there and mid on. Marsh takes the catch, travelling fast but straight to him.
They’ll need seven an over. It’s not nothing, it’s a score that can be defended, but it’ll need fast wickets to put the pressure on.
West Indies bowled so well tonight. Two sixes in the innings, both from Henriques. And 11 fours. So 13 balls out of 120 that went to the boundary, that’s very low for this format. Only 41 runs from the last 30 deliveries with two reasonably set players in the middle, also significant.
20th over: Australia 141-6 (Christian 1) So Australia’s nominal finisher Dan Christian got to come out with three balls leftand got to face one, trying for a flip-pull for four but it was saved for one run. Which brought Turner back on strike for that final ball.
The innings ends with another piece of skill. Turner hits the ball hard and straight. Both Australians start running. But Bravo flings out a hand in his follow-through, seizes the ball on the bounce, and turns to sprint back to the non-striker’s end and beat Turner home.
Bravo finishing the innings by going around the wicket and angling into the pads of the right-handers, forcing them to hit to a longer leg side boundary with catchers patrolling. Henriques doesn’t have much choice but to attempt the task, and his shot falls short as Allen dives forward to claim it.
19th over: Australia 137-4 (Henriques 33, Turner 22) Cottrell into his fourth over, and he’s beating the bat as well! Henriques’ cut, Turner’s pull, both go under the ball. Henriques edges into the ground to the keeper. Throw in a couple of wides as he tries to hit the tram tracks outside off, and it’s still only four runs from five legal balls. But Russell overruns the final ball while charging in from long on, hoping to force a run out as the Australians try for a second, and that miss means they can run a comfortable third.
18th over: Australia 130-4 (Henriques 29, Turner 21) Pooran has held back one over from Hayden Walsh, and that was a good move. For three balls the Australians can’t do more than hit the sweepers for one. Fourth ball, missed stumping. Henriques charges, beaten by the bounce, over his blade outside the line of his body, but Pooran fumbles the take, snatching at it. So Henriques charges again, but mis-hits on the bounce to deep mid. Turner pulls two. Another economical over, and the wicket chance. Walsh ends with 2 for 18 from four overs, outstanding T20 returns.
17th over: Australia 124-4 (Henriques 27, Turner 17) Shot from Ashton Turner! He played a few of these in his crazy ODI run chase in India in 2019. First ball of Russell’s over, Turner predicts that it will be very wide of off stump. He walks way across, miles across, and flicks it over fine leg for four. Turner doesn’t play these like most players with the ramp or lap, in that he doesn’t crouch or get low. He stands up at his tall height and just manoeuvres the bat to scoop the ball as he moves across. On this occasion, he makes contact while standing at the edge of the cut strip, and ends up two pitches across with the momentum from his movement. Quite the dramatic shot. Henriques finishes the over in less flashy but more profitable style, thumping length from Russell over midwicket for six.
16th over: Australia 109-4 (Henriques 17, Turner 12) Both batsmen are trying to hit hard now, aiming plenty at the ball but not timing anything off this surface. Dragged along the ground, here and there. It’s only from the sixth ball of the over that something opens up. Bravo tries for the yorker and misses it, on the short side. Henriques smacks it into the sightscreen for six.
15th over: Australia 99-4 (Henriques 9, Turner 10) Cottrell keeps the restraints on, two runs in the first four balls of his over. Turner walks right across and tries to lap sweep, gets it well enough to get two runs with Gayle intercepting from short fine. Drives another two in front of point, hard running to get back. Still only seven from the over.
14th over: Australia 92-4 (Henriques 8, Turner 5) A slip in place for Turner against the leg-spinner, and Walsh does draw an edge as Turner plays a glide. I think Turner was happy to take that gamble, and he wins this time, bouncing past the slip and thus there’s no one in place to stop it reaching the boundary at deep third. Still just a couple of singles from the rest of the over. Time is ticking away.
13th over: Australia 86-4 (Henriques 7, Turner 0) Allen wraps up his bowling day with 1 for 26 from four, conceding five runs from this final over as Henriques flicks twos and a one.
12th over: Australia 81-4 (Henriques 2, Turner 0) Hayden Walsh has 2 for 6 from two overs, Australia have two new players at the crease with not much time left to drop the hammer.
WHAT A CATCH! It says caught Allen but that was at least half Bravo. Not the boundary-line flick-back relay, either. Finch decides that Walsh has to go. Aims a huge drive that goes so high that midwicket and long on have time to converge under the ball. It’s coming down with snow on it, and Bravo can’t quite read it in the lights. He has his hands at chest height, fingers down, and the ball bounces off his hands and into his chest, and away. He sees it falling and slaps it up with his palm. Allen is going past, and turns back in a split second to dive towards the ball. Takes it in mid air on the rebound! Remarkable work.
Again the player striking well has to exit. Walsh gives this leg-break a lot of loop, floating it up full, and it dips on Carey at the last minute. I think he’s attempting to loft his cover drive rather than keep it down, but in the end he’s halfway in between. Hits it at catching height, and there’s only one fielder anywhere near it, standing in the circle at cover, but it goes straight to Lendl Simmons.
11th over: Australia 79-2 (Finch 30, Carey 13) Finch has been out there all night and hit two boundaries. Carey hits his second off his 11th ball, backing away and driving Fabian Allen out through cover. A few singles follow.
10th over: Australia 72-2 (Finch 29, Carey 7) Pooran wants another spin option so he turns to the casual off-spin of Chris Gayle. Finch tries to up that rate with a powerful sweep, but Walsh at backward point makes the save. He does find the boundary with a straight hit over Gayle from a fuller ball, but mistimes a sweep and gets a gloved single that bounces off his body and past the keeper.
9th over: Australia 63-2 (Finch 22, Carey 5) Marsh falls from the third ball of the over. Alex Carey reverse-sweeps the fourth ball for four.He loves that shot early, often used it opening the batting in the UAE in 2018 against spinners like Imad Wasim. Has a tendency to make things happen with the bat, and Australia badly need a scoring boost from here. Barely six an over, and Finch is going at less than a run a ball.
That’s as plumb as you get. Marsh takes a small shuffle across his stumps, drops to one knee and tries to sweep. Allen lands it on leg stump and straightens it to hit in front of middle. Marsh doesn’t even talk about referring, he just walks off.
8th over: Australia 56-1 (Finch 21, Marsh 8) Hayden Walsh will bowl his leg-breaks from the other end, and he keeps dragging short, but the Australians don’t punish him, pulling to the deep for singles. Bowl those to Russell in the 17th over and they would be going into the street. This over should not have been allowed to cost four runs in total. Is this Australian side feeling timid after the weekend?
7th over: Australia 52-1 (Finch 19, Marsh 6) Fabian Allen will bowl the first spin of the night, left-arm orthodox around the wicket to the two right-handers. They don’t try anything expansive, picking off singles until the sixth ball as Marsh forces through cover for four. Good shot, cover is up in the circle and that was too powerful to stop, hit just straight of that man. The sweeper is squarer, this shot goes more towards extra cover.
6th over: Australia 45-1 (Finch 17, Marsh 1) The Wade Conundrum strikes again. Mitchell Marsh comes out, he’s been Australia’s best (only?) with the bat in the first two games. Bravo is bowling vey medium pace. Pooran goes upstairs for a DRS review after Marsh misses a flick down the leg side, but ah, it turns out Marsh missed a flick down the leg side. Takes a couple of balls to get off the mark with a pull. The wicket has immediately slowed the scoring.
5th over: Australia 41-1 (Finch 15) There we have it. Obed McCoy bowls his first, mixing up his pace with various slower balls and cutters. Gives up a boundary to Finch, uppercut over backward point. McCoy is annoyed when his sixth delivery slips past Wade’s pads. But the wide gives him a chance to bowl another ball, and this one brings him joy. Around the wicket, angled in at the left-hander. Wade backs away to make room, pre-empting it, and misses his drive. McCoy runs his fingers down the side of the ball on release, affecting the pace, and it hits off stump.
4th over: Australia 32-0 (Wade 21, Finch 9) Another couple of miscues from Finch before he finally gets a pull away, two runs as Fabian Allen puts in a big slide and a clean pick-up at deep backward square. A couple of wides in the over help reduce the dot-ball pressure on Finch, who eventually gets off strike. Wade misses a big drive outside off, then sprints through a tight single to keep strike. Dives in at the non-striker’s end, and it needs to be timed just right to beat Gayle’s direct hit from midwicket. Home by a fraction.
3rd over: Australia 26-0 (Wade 20, Finch 6) Wade backs away to make room, drives through extra cover for four! On the carpet again and hits the gap in the infield. This is Wade’s knack early in an innings, he strikes so well from ball one and he places the ball. He just has a tendency to get out for middling scores despite looking a million bucks. Finch is progressing more slowly, unable to beat the field on a number of occasions before Cottrell hits him in the stomach as Finch tries to pull.
2nd over: Australia 18-0 (Wade 15, Finch 3) Andre Russell has been the MVP for West Indies so far, contributing with bat and ball across both matches. He gets an early go with the ball here, drops short, and Wade absolutely smokes it. Fletcher is out at deep square leg to protect the short ball. Wade only hits this one a few metres to his left. Flat along the grass. But it’s hit so well that it scorches past Fletcher before he can even get down to ground level and attempt to save.
1st over: Australia 10-0 (Wade 9, Finch 1) And we’re away. Matthew Wade facing the first ball... and driving it for four! Through cover point. He looked so good in the first match, everything flew off the bat until he got out and the rest of his team fell away, then he edged one after a couple of balls in the second match. Here, he follows up his first foray with a pull from Cottrell through fine leg for four, more glove than bat perhaps, and it doesn’t land far from short fine but Wade gets away with it and profits. Two singles follow.
Both teams take the knee briefly before the start of play, 13 players in the middle and the rest along the boundary line.
Australia Aaron Finch * Matthew Wade + Mitchell Marsh Moises Henriques Alex Carey Ashton Turner Daniel Christian Mitchell Starc Adam Zampa Riley Meredith Josh Hazlewood
Top four is the same. Carey comes in for Philippe, McDermott for Turner, Meredith for Agar. As with the previous XI, this means four straight out bowlers with a range of all-round options to cobble together the other four overs. Zampa batting at 9 is very high though, and it’s not like Australia haven’t needed the lower order lately...
Sometimes when you’re playing badly you may not want to win the toss, because it gives an illusion of control over the result, and shows that your intended strategy didn’t work. Finch has won all three tosses. Chose to chase twice on the weekend and that failed, so today he opts to bat first.
Hello again. This is the third T20 International out of five in this series – meaning that West Indies can wrap up a series win if they take the match today, and Australia have to win to stay in it. From the visitors’ perspective, it was a tough opening weekend. They started by bowling brilliantly, but with enough fielding lapses to let West Indies keep a foothold in the game, then Australia were cruising in reply before a collapse of a drastic order. Teams don’t usually play games on back to back days anymore, and when Australia turned up for the second outing they got walloped in all three disciplines. Bowled out in both matches for unimpressive scores, they have much work to do.
West Indies will be feeling great. Kieron Pollard has been absent with a hamstring twinge, meaning that Nicholas Pooran has been temporary captain, but he’s won two from two. The comeback in the first match had him elated, but the second performance was clinical, including much of the big hitting for which West Indies T20 cricket has been known in recent years that include two T20 World Cup wins.
Defeated by 56 runs, Wade (0) and Finch (6) gone in four overs
Marsh scored 54 but Hetmyer-Bravo partnership lifted hosts
Australia have produced another batting collapse as they lost by 56 runs to fall 2-0 behind to West Indies in their five-match T20 cricket series in St Lucia.
Sent in to bat for the second time in as many matches by Aaron Finch, the hosts made 196-4 in an innings containing 13 sixes and just eight fours. Australia have lost six of the last seven T20 matches in which they have opted to bowl first after winning the toss.
Finch’s side one more defeat away from ceding series
Game 3 is on Tuesday morning Australian time, Monday night Caribbean time. We’ll be there to see how Aaron Finch’s side responds, whether Kieron Pollard returns to take over this West Indies side, or whether Nicholas Pooran keeps up his 100% record as stand-in captain. Till then.
Shimron Hetmyer: “I think that was one of my best innings, I think I paced it quite well. Everything worked out for me, with the guys backing me and giving me that role to be the person who takes it as deep as possible, and once you do you have free licence basically. So kudos to my team for giving me that role. Having a good partnership in the middle really set platform for us, and for me it was being there and strike the accelerator and give the guys inside as much runs as possible. It was pretty fun to be honest, I’d never batted with Bravo before, so it was really nice to bat with him for the first time. He was someone I could talk to, he was telling me to just keep going, and when it’s time for me to go he said to do what I do best. I really trusted him with running between the wickets too.”
Aaron Finch: “I don’t think the wicket changed much, I think it played pretty nicely. Chasing 190 you have to get off to a good start, and when your two openers get out cheaply then it’s tough for an inexperienced middle order. 110 run partnership between Hetmyer and Bravo, that was the difference in the game. We have to win three games in the series. It doesn’t matter if you do it three in a row at the start, or have to come back. We’ll keep working hard and come back in game three.”
An absolute demolition tonight. A fine effort from West Indies after they got a bit lucky in the first game. Mitch Marsh said the Australians may have been mentally rusty yesterday when they collapsed to surrender a win that was all but theirs. It looked more like conventional rust tonight, with nobody but Marsh able to get going with the bat, and with fielding mistakes costing wickets while the bowling couldn’t handle a calculated West Indies assault.
As for Australia, concerns loom large. Twice in two days they’ve been bowled out within 20 overs by a West Indies side that isn’t packing Exocet missiles. Sure, they’re missing a few top batsmen, but everyone in this side has a strong claim to be here, and has been part of considerations for a while. It’s not like they topped up the squad with whoever was waiting in the airport lounge.
19.2 overs: Australia 140-10 (Starc 7) Carnival time. Pooran brings on Chris Gayle to bowl the last over, because frankly Pooran could bring on Lassie the Wonder Dog to bowl the last over and it wouldn’t matter. Second ball, Gayle bowls at the stumps, Hazlewood has a giant swing and misses, and the game is that simple sometimes.
19th over: Australia 139-7 (Starc 7, Hazlewood 4) Until 24 hours ago, Josh Hazlewood had never batted in a T20 International before. Now he’s done it twice. He scores his first runs, too, backing away and slicing a drive through deep third for four.
Cottrell will have a last burst, getting his fourth over in. All bustle and limbs at the crease. Has Zampa slicing a square drive to the sub fielder at backward point.
18th over: Australia 131-7 (Starc 5, Zampa 2) Just a bit of a net for Australia’s bowlers now.
It just hasn’t happened for Christian in either match of this series. He charges Bravo’s medium pace, as he should. Aims to the leg side. Doesn’t get bat on it, again. It cannons into his pad, about a foot outside leg stump, then ricochets back onto the woodwork.
17th over: Australia 124-7 (Christian 9, Starc 1) The strong wind ruffles Christian’s shirt as he waits. Steps across outside off to try to power Russell away, but misses. Russell bowls wider still and is called for it. Another 40 or 50 of those wides and this game could be alive. Russell obliges with a second one. Short third in place. Christian bunny hops all the way across and tries to take it off his pads, but misses. He’s so far over that the ball goes behind his legs, but still misses his off stump. He gives up moving, stands still for the next one and drives it dead straight for four, once bounce. Gets a bouncer that he leaves in the hope it’ll be called wide, but it isn’t called. Hares back for a second run to deep midwicket, despite Fletcher pulling off a direct hit from the deep. Christian finds a single to keep the strike. Might as well use this match for some range practice.
Just the 73 runs needed from the last three overs.
16th over: Australia 115-6 (Christian 2, Starc 1) A longover that involves two wickets. Christian clubs a single down the ground to keep the strike. He needs 82 from 24 balls.
It takes quite a while to work out who is out, but it’s... A strange one from Agar. Christian squeezes the ball out to the leg side, and there isn’t really a run there, but he takes it on regardless. Agar has to respond but he doesn’t, he watches the ball and then turns back for his ground. Surely at this point of an almost lost cause, you take on the throw. Instead, both Australians end up at the same end of the pitch, while the throw goes to the keeper at the other end.
But the letter of the law eventually rules that Agar is the one out. He turned back for his ground but never quite made it in. He was distracted by thinking about how he’d run out his partner, and didn’t ground his bat. Christian also stopped outside the non-striker’s crease, but eventually wandered over as he was heading back to the dressing room, shaking his head. The fact that he thought he was out means that instead he’s the one still in. Cricket, hey?
The spinners combine once more. Henriques has to have a go at the slower stuff. On one knee, across the line, but as others have done, he’s trying to fetch a ball from outside his off stump to the leg side. Hits it squarer to deep midwicket, but there’s company out there.
15th over: Australia 111-5 (Henriques 19) Russell on to bowl, and he’s squeezing the last bits of air out of this Australian innings. Bowling wide of off stump to a well set field, and the batsmen are only squeezing singles from his yorker attempts. Must try something else: get across and scoop, change the line. McDermott does from the last ball of the over, almost helicoptering out the yorker, hits it pretty well... but not quite enough. Bravo again at long on, running around and calling loudly. This game is all but theirs.
14th over: Australia 107-4 (Henriques 17, McDermott 5) No time to waste for Australia now. Ben McDermott whacks four through midwicket, but Hayden Walsh’s over only goes for six runs in total, and the ask is 90 from 36 balls.
How influential was that Russell save? If that ball carries for six, Australia would have taken 10 from the last over and felt alright. Instead they got five, and Marsh feels he has to go after Walsh. Tries the lofted drive again but slices it towards long off. Bravo is there, waiting.
13th over: Australia 101-3 (Marsh 54, Henriques 16) Dropped again. Tough one, Marsh lathers this ball back at Allen the bowler. It’s just at an awkward height, Allen tries to go for it with fingers pointing down, then realises he needs to change to fingers up, but doesn’t have time. It squeezes through him for a run. Marsh hits higher next time, longer... huge save on the rope from Russell! He thinks he’s in the frame for a catch at long on, then realises it’s going over him. So he gets up high and flicks the ball back mid-air. Turns six into one. Outstanding.
12th over: Australia 96-3 (Marsh 52, Henriques 15) Bravo returns to bowl like Christian, right-arm around to a right-hander’s heels. Marsh is playing this well, though. Twice, he finds enough space in the outfield to get back for a second run. Then when he gets a bit of length to work with, he crisply cuts through cover for four, beating the sweeper and raising consecutive fifties in this format after the first for his career in the previous match. Ends up with 12 from the over including a wide, keeping pace with the asking rate.
101 from 48 balls required.
11th over: Australia 84-3 (Marsh 41, Henriques 14) Dropped again! We’ve seen a lot of missed chances today. This the toughest of an easy bunch. Allen bowls very wide of off stump, and Marsh still tries to slog-sweep to leg. Gets a big edge over the keeper, about where a first slip would be to a fast bowler. Bravo flies across from short third and dives, fully airborne, fingertipping the ball away.
Australia get nothing but singles from the rest of the over, six runs off it, they need 113 at 12.56.
10th over: Australia 78-3 (Marsh 39, Henriques 10) A reprieve for Marsh! Chops to point and takes on the fielder. Hesitates, and it’s a tight run anyway. He’s in real trouble. Gone. But Walsh waiting at the bowler’s end misses the stumps. Takes the ball and swings his hands back without looking, and just... misses. By the time he takes the bails off Marsh is home, after which Moises leaps down the track and smacks high and dead straight down the ground for six.
11 from the over, 119 needed from 60 balls.
9th over: Australia 67-3 (Marsh 37, Henriques 2) Four byes to start Allen’s over. Henriques steps way across and tries to pull, misses. Pooran behind the stumps has his view of the ball blocked, so he’s looking for it leg side. But Henriques misses, and a bit of turn takes it past the keeper as well. Pooran brings in a slip for Henriques: first Gayle, then Bravo. Henriques brushes a run away down the leg side off his pad - another extra. He’s so modest he wants to help the team win without any runs next to his name.
Eight from the over in total, they need nearly 12 per over now.
8th over: Australia 59-3 (Marsh 35, Henriques 1) The reassuring figure of Moises Henriques walks to the crease. Works a single to end the over. Australia need 138 more at 11.5 per over.
Hayden Walsh will complete the spin duo with his leg-breaks. Bowls too short, to start. Cottrell saves him two runs at deep backward square from one Marsh pull shot, but the next goes squarer to the fence. But after Marsh gets off strike with a sweep, Philippe backs away to cut, and much like the dismissal that Agar created earlier, the batsman can’t pick up the pace of the delivery off the pitch. It skids through to hit middle stump.
7th over: Australia 51-2 (Marsh 28, Philippe 13) Spin arrives as soon as the fielding restrictions ease, with Fabian Allen bowling his left-arm stuff. Marsh plays the lap sweep for one, Philippe cuts a single. Somebody has to go after this bowling. Philippe does via a big outside edge, aiming an off-drive. It’s been a profitable shot, the nick. The over costs West Indies 9 runs.
6th over: Australia 42-2 (Marsh 26, Philippe 6) A new challenge for stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran, with Edwards bowling only 1.5 overs of his likely 4 overs before coming off. Dwayne Bravo has the ball now, he might be the option to take up the slack. Vastly experienced with the ball in this format from his many years of IPL and so on. He has Marsh nicking a cutter, but in this format that usually just brings four runs to the batter. Marsh drives a couple more to deep midwicket, and with singles gets to 10 from the over. That’s just about at the rate.
5th over: Australia 32-2 (Marsh 18, Philippe 4) Russell takes the ball now, Philippe chopping a single out to backward point. He’s never yet looked settled in his few chances for Australia so far, he’ll be great to watch if he can find his composure and play like he has done for the Sydney Sixers. Marsh has plenty of composure though, waiting on a wide ball and driving it square... for six! That looks like a regulation four off the bat, but it just keeps going and it carries the rope. The Russell Entertainment Index, as discussed yesterday via a concept from master statistician Andrew Samson, is back in full effect.
Despite that Marsh six, Australia are going at 6 an over and they need 11 an over.
4th over: Australia 23-2 (Marsh 11, Philippe 2) Both openers gone, Josh “Ryan” Philippe to the middle early, Australia in strife. But so is Fidel Edwards, who bowls a ball and then grimaces, clutching his elbow or upper arm. Has he popped out a previously dislocated shoulder? Or is that a muscle strain? Something is hurting him, and he comes from the field. Lendl Simmons bowls the one remaining delivery, medium pace and landing on a decent length, conceding a single. Three runs came from five balls from Edwards. So between the two of them, 1 for 4 from the joint over.
More like Aaron Flinch. What a curious dismissal. Edwards bowls a ball like Lasith Malina, exaggerating his round-arm style with the ball slipping out of his fingers with a scrambled seam. It’s a full toss, quite high but dipping. The line is sliding down leg. But Finch doesn’t know what to do, it’s like he can’t quite see the ball and first thinks that it’s going to be a beamer. He starts off trying to back away to give himself room, then finds the ball following him, and just jabs bat at it. Misses, it hits his thigh pad and spins back onto the stumps on the full.
3rd over: Australia 19-1 (Finch 6, Marsh 10) Cottrell to Finch, dropped at point. How simple was that? Finch cuts, Fletcher has the ball come straight to him, not too hard, not fast. And somehow he lets it out of his hands. The let-off hurts Cottrell, who grimaces and follows it up with a couple of wides. Only a couple more singles follow off the bat. A curious start by Australia.
2nd over: Australia 14-1 (Finch 4, Marsh 9) Aaron Finch gets to face his first ball with a wicket down and two boundaries already struck. He stands up and punches a couple of runs through cover, then trades a few singles with Marsh. Fidel Edwards the bowler.
1st over: Australia 9-1 (Finch 0, Marsh 8) Gracious me. In trying to chase totals like 195, Wade is a hugely important contributor. He can score so quickly at the top of an innings. Gone for a duck. In comes Mitchell Marsh. And picks up where he left off. Two drives, one to the off side of straight, one to the on side, both speeding across the grass for four. A quiet first over then!
You can’t keep Russell out of the game! Second ball of the innings, Wade pulls hard but hit it too far in front of square. Flat to mid on where Russell hardly moves. Salute, Sheldon Cottrell.
What a change in flavour from last night. The batting struggles have given way to free scoring. Lendl Simmons got West Indies started with three sixes, before Bravo and Hetmyer put on 103 in 10 overs, and then Russell finished it off.
Simmons: 31 from 21 Hetmyer: 61 from 36 Bravo: 47 from 34 Russell: 24 from 8
20th over: West Indies 196-4 (Bravo 47, Russell 24) Christian will bowl the final over. Cat and mouse as he comes round the wicket to the right-hander, trying to bowl at his boots, and Bravo stays inside the line of the ball so that it’s called wide. He goes for the next, pulls it so hard that his bat flies out of his hands about 20 yards towards midwicket. He gets a huge top edge, a long way up and down, and despite the airtime Zampa at short fine can’t pick up where it’s going and in the end doesn’t get a hand on it. Should have been a catch. Either way it would still have got Russell on strike, and he celebrates by splitting the two outfielders into the midwicket gap with laser precision for four.
Three balls to go. Russell powers a cut shot, but straight to the sweeper. One run. Bravo heaves again, loses his bat again! Pulls a run into the leg side. And to finish it off to Russell, the ball is just slightly short of a yorker length outside leg stump, and that’s enough for Russell to drive over long on for six more.
19th over: West Indies 180-4 (Bravo 45, Russell 11) A dot ball first for Starc, as Russell keeps out a yorker and doesn’t want to give away the strike. But that’s as good as it gets for the bowler. Next ball, at the pads, Russell whips it over backward square for four. Third ball, Starc inexplicably bowls just full of a length, and Russell dismisses it over midwicket for six! A pure swing, another delay for finding and sanitising the match ball. Starc tries the bouncer instead and Russell ducks and pulls in the same motion, this time settling for a single. Bravo though is also going well. He backs away and edges Starc fine for four! Then clouts to deep cover and will keep the strike.
18th over: West Indies 164-4 (Bravo 40, Russell 0) One ball left in the over, which Bravo drives for two runs, leaving Russell up to 12 balls to face.
A strange way for it to end. Hazlewood bowls his fourth over before the end of the innings. He oversteps though. Bowls the free hit as a leg stump yorker, but Hetmyer is good enough to flick it behind square for four! That gets aerial and nearly carries the rope. So does the next, same shot to a length ball, before Hetmyer slices two runs over backward point. That’s as far as the West Indies bat gets today though. With one ball left in the over, Bravo wants Hetmyer to keep strike for the next, so when Hetmyer misses a swish, Bravo runs through for a bye to the keeper. I don’t know if they discussed it beforehand, but Hetmyer is not awake to it at all. He doesn’t start moving until Bravo is most of the way down, at which point Hetmyer takes off himself rather than sending the other man back. He turns as he walks off and applauds using his bat face, signalling that Bravo had made the right move.
17th over: West Indies 149-3 (Hetmyer 51, Bravo 37) Starc comes around the wicket with his left-arm wheels to the right-handed Bravo, keeping him cramped and only able to get a single from two balls. No such problem for Hetmyer though, with a line back over the wicket: he steps right across his stumps, throws his front leg out straight and parallel with the crease, gets low, and scoops a ball right off the line of off stump for six. That would have bowled him had he missed. Instead it soars over the wicketkeeper and away into the stands. He follows up by putting Bravo back on strike, who backs away outside leg, gets followed, and plays a flinching kind of pull shot against a breadbasket ball that takes a top edge and somehow carries the fence as well. There is apparently a very strong breeze across the ground tonight, and if you hang the ball up there, it’s a good chance of being carried away.
16th over: West Indies 135-3 (Hetmyer 44, Bravo 30) Dan Christian gets his first over, quite late in the piece. He bowls a wide yorker across the left-hander that Hetmyer can only squeeze to short third for a run. Against the right-hander Christian comes around the wicket and bowls right at the batsman’s heels. His medium pace can look innocuous but it has smarts. He knows that denying boundaries with changes of pace and difficult lengths is the point of his job, and conceding six or eight runs an over at this stage of an innings is just fine. Hetmyer’s fleetness of foot gets him back for a second run after pushing a yorker to the leg side. But West Indies only total six from the over. Four to go.
15th over: West Indies 129-3 (Hetmyer 40, Bravo 28) Perfect charging shot by Hetmyer. Zampa gives the ball just a little bit of air, and the batter is down the track in a flash. Gets to the pitch and spanks it, inside out over cover, so cleanly that it bounces through the stadium concourse and down to the gates. A very happy looking teenager comes back with the ball. A few more big shots from both players don’t find the middle, as they collect five runs from the other five balls of the over. Andre Russell is still in the shed...
14th over: West Indies 118-3 (Hetmyer 32, Bravo 25) Hetmyer is producing a special. Marsh is trying to deny him the leg side by bowling very wide of the left-hander’s off stump. Hetmyer goes for a wander out there himself, drops to one knee and belts the slog-sweep away for six. Then walks over again, gets a still wider ball and carves a cut through cover for two. Goes for the slog sweep again after that and can only drag one run. Throw in a wide for a high bouncer and a couple of leg byes as Bravo tries to glance, and you have another productive over: 14 from it.
13th over: West Indies 104-3 (Hetmyer 22, Bravo 24) Going for it now, West Indies. Hetmyer charges Agar and belts him over long on for six. Bravo rocks back and thumps the pull shot onto the roof of that grandstand that was hit earlier. We have a delay to find a replacement ball. 16 from the over.
12th over: West Indies 88-3 (Hetmyer 14, Bravo 17) There’s very little chatter audible from the Australians, it seems quite flat out there. Hetmyer charges Zampa and smears an under-edge behind square. That gets Bravo on strike, and when he charges he lifts Zampa down the ground for six! Straight hit, high and strong. A couple of balls later he opens the face to go over extra cover and is dropped in the deep. Another chance missed. Dan Christian is on the boundary because he’s so good at anticipating shots and because he has such good hands. It’s not a totally straightforward catch, he has to make up distance around the rope and he’s sliding towards the ball to reach it, but he still gets there in time and would expect to catch that. Somehow as he slides to ground it spills free.
11th over: West Indies 78-3 (Hetmyer 13, Bravo 8) Agar, round the wicket and angling in at the stumps, does his usual trick for the cost of five runs.
10th over: West Indies 73-3 (Hetmyer 12, Bravo 4) A spin duo with Zampa on to bowl, and he drops Bravo! Bowls what looks like a variation, coming out the back of his hand not like a googly but more like the slower balls that Obed McCoy was sending down last night. It takes a long time to get to the other end, then kicks up with extra bounce, looping a leading edge back down the wicket. But Zampa is slow to respond initially, caught flat-footed in his follow through before he can start to run towards the drop of the ball. He dives forward and lands heavily on the hard surface, getting fingertips to the ball but seeing it spill free.
9th over: West Indies 65-3 (Hetmyer 6, Bravo 2) Agar returns, even bowling a couple with a nice bit of loop, and landing them on a spot. Hetmyer bats bareheaded against the spinner, well into the evening in St Lucia so no need for headgear unless you’re worried about floodlights in your eyes. Five singles from the over plus a wide.
8th over: West Indies 59-3 (Hetmyer 3, Bravo 0) A much better start for West Indies than in the first match, but Australia won’t be unhappy either.
An unconvincing stay for Gayle comes to an end. He picked up a second boundary in this over, off the inside edge past his leg stump while driving at a fuller ball. The wicket comes from one back of a length, angled across the left-hander. This time he tries to cut though its too close to his body, and edges back into his stumps.
7th over: West Indies 53-2 (Gayle 9, Hetmyer 2) Adam Zampa with his leg-breaks comes on as soon as the field is allowed to go back. Gayle doesn’t try to take him on, though. Mostly prods and defends, but one ball down the leg side lets Gayle tickle away a glance for four.
6th over: West Indies 46-2 (Gayle 4, Hetmyer 2) End of the Powerplay and Hazlewood has 1 for 26 from three. So, “taken down” is a relative concept, relative to 2 for 3 from three overs yesterday.
Simmons keeps taking on Hazlewood! This time he charges, a good gallop down to change the length, and flat-bats him off that length over long off for six. But his next experiment causes his downfall. He stays home, backs away a touch to make room, trying to slant a late cut away past the keeper. Hazlewood gets seam movement into the bat, and bounce, taking the top edge through to Wade.
It doesn’t matter that much though. I’d suggest that Simmons has already done his job by making sure to take down Australia’s key bowler rather than letting him bowl.
5th over: West Indies 37-1 (Simmons 25, Gayle 2) This is curious. Yesterday, Finch bowled Starc for one over off the top and kept his others for later, bowling Agar for two overs in the Powerplay. Today, after taking 1 for 1, Agar is off and Starc is back. Simmons plays a perfect shot off his legs, all timing so that the ball sits up in the night sky and carries onto the roof of the stand over square leg. Starc pulls things back after that, but the over still costs 10.
4th over: West Indies 26-1 (Simmons 17, Gayle 1) This is good stuff from Lendl Simmons. He’s decided that he doesn’t want to let Hazlewood churn through dot balls like he and his teammates did yesterday. First he backs away to the leg side and swishes, getting only a top edge but with no fielder at deep third, it rolls away for four. Next ball he goes the other way, picking up a pull shot off the top edge that sails over fine leg for six. Not controlled shots, but deliberate risk-taking in a measured way. Adding in a cut and a pull shot that are saved, Simmons takes 13 from the over, while Gayle gets off the mark with a single. More runs in the over than Hazlewood conceded in the match yesterday.
3rd over: West Indies 13-1 (Simmons 4, Gayle 0) An early walk to the wicket for Chris Gayle, who as usual blocks his first couple.
Straight through! The left-arm orthodox spinner is a favourite choice for Aaron Finch to bowl during Powerplays and he gets a wicket here. Simple stuff, just bowls very fast and flat at the top of off stump. Fletcher thinks he has the length to play a cut shot, but the ball is through onto his stumps before he’s even tried to do so.
2nd over: West Indies 12-0 (Simmons 3, Fletcher 9) As in Australia’s Test matches, Josh Hazlewood partners Mitchell Starc. Hazlewood conceded three runs from his first three overs yesterday, then came back to bowl the 20th and pick up Andre Russell. He took 3 for 12 from four. He bowls the same way here, back of a length and accurate, and starts frugally with three singles from the over.
1st over: West Indies 9-0 (Simmons 1, Fletcher 8) A wicket in the first over for Mitchell Starc, his specialty, but it’s overturned! That was some old-school umpiring of the umpiring covenant. Fletcher doesn’t offer a shot. Tries to leave a ball that swings back in and hits him on the front pad. He has a good stride forward, is the only thing in his favour, but he gets fired anyway, and fair enough. He reviews, and DRS shows that with this hard pitch, the ball is just bouncing over the off bail. He celebrates with a huge swipe at Starc that picks up the breeze and carries just over the midwicket rope for six.
Samuel Badree interviews a couple of the players who made personal bests in Game 1.
Andre Russell. “I was just thinking about the amount of deliveries to come, and me being there to the end what could happen. Luckily they bowled the spinners and nothing really happening off the wicket. I was happy to get the team to that total last night, but I had 150, 160 in my mind. Where I bat and how many deliveries I face don’t allow me [to make fifties in T20 matches] so hopefully that was the first of many to come.”
Unchanged for Australia, two changes for West Indies. Evin Lewis the opening bat and Obed McCoy, the quick who bowled so well yesterday. Rotation, presumably.
West Indies Lendl Simmons Andre Fletcher Chris Gayle Shimron Hetmyer Nicholas Pooran * + Andre Russell Dwayne Bravo Fabian Allen Hayden Walsh Sheldon Cottrell Fidel Edwards
Same as yesterday, then, with Finch electing to chase, and Australia electing not to change the XI. As if emphasising that yesterday was an anomaly to be disregarded.
If you’d like to see what happened in the first match, you can see just how many times I had to type “WICKET!” here.
Well hello. It seems like only yesterday that we were getting together for the first match of this series, and that’s because it was. It was also quite the performance, in that Australia produced a truly notable batting collapse to lose the game when losing it seemed far harder than winning. The benefit of this scheduling, as captain Aaron Finch noted yesterday, was there was no time to dwell on how they got things so badly wrong. Instead they’ve just got to turn up and try to do things right. Perhaps there is something in that for us all...
The second of five T20 Internationals, then, is soon, to get underway.
We said it should be an entertaining series, and it has started that way. Australia coughed one up that they should have swallowed, and West Indies made the absolute most of it once they found a way back in. That was good fun. We’ll be back with the second match in less than 24 hours, they’re playing two in a row to start things off. Then (Australian time) Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. Until then.
Aaron Finch: “I thought that our bowlers did a fantastic job, the lengths we bowl. Any time you lose 6 for 19 you’re going to struggle to win a T20 match. We needed 4 an over through that last bit, so very disappointing. Game smarts would have got us over the line, we panicked a bit. We’ve been working on trying to be more aggressive through the middle overs, but maybe needed to rein that in today and have more game smarts. You’ve got to dust yourself off and come again, with the same attitude but execute better.”
Nicholas Pooran who is all smiles: “What a game! My first game as captain and I wasn’t expecting this. We didn’t get as much as we wanted, 145, but all we asked was for a challenging total. We asked the guys for energy and that’s what they brought. Can’t give enough credit to the bowlers.”
What a remarkable turnaround. Matthew Wade set things up for Australia early in the chase, having the team going at 12 an over as he made 33 from only 14 balls. He got out, and Philippe soon followed, but Marsh was calmly building a half century and Henriques looked completely at ease. They were cruising at 89 for 3, then somehow the bottom fell out of the ship. The last six wickets fell for 18 runs, and none of the experienced heads of Henriques, Marsh or Christian was able to see them home.
You would have to question the Australian commitment to hitting in the air - Christian and Starc especially - when they needed well under a run a ball, and singles were available.
West Indies win it! They’ve pulled this game out of the fire! Obed McCoy, a wicket with his first ball tonight, 17 runs from his next five, but he’s come back to take three at the end and seal the win! He bowls length here, not his full slower ball but in between, 123 kph. Outside off, and Hazlewood just reaches for it, looking for bat on ball, but only getting enough bat to send it to Pooran behind the stumps.
Nine wickets down. They still only need singles for a win, the Australians.
Dot balls are key for West Indies now, to ramp up the pressure and make these tailenders play bad shots. Obed McCoy produces two dots straight out of the gate, both slower balls, one beating Starc and one forcing him to defend. The catch is that if four of these last 30 deliveries are in Starc’s areas, he can win the game with four hits. But dots could spook him. A third in a row, well outside off, and Starc wafts and misses. The fourth, pitched up, he plays the big lofted drive, and caught at long on! Allen was actually fielding at midwicket but he comes across the long on fielder, the two of them avoiding getting in one another’s way. A sprint, a dive, and a fine take b Allen.
15th over: Australia 126-8 (Starc 3, Zampa 0) Well then. Starc, Zampa and Hazlewood are the only options left for Australia. Walsh finishes his allotted overs with 3 for 23. Australia need 20 from 30 balls, but only two wickets in hand.
Now things tilt firmly the way of West Indies! Walsh again, giving the leg-break air. Christian wants to loft to the boundary. Tries to hit straight, but like his teammates he skews to the leg side. Still gets plenty on it, so it carries to Bravo at long on.
14th over: Australia 123-7 (Christian 10, Starc 1) Advantage still Australia’s. They need 23 off 36 after Starc walks out and takes a single to end the McCoy over.
Reeeally interesting. Christian keeps walking across his stumps, this time chipping McCoy off a leading edge over cover for two. Drives one run through cover. Agar knows he has plenty of time. defends McCoy’s backhand slower ball on the off stump. But he gets another, aimed at his stumps, at a length that gives it time to wobble off the surface. Agar is just trying to knock it to leg, and like Marsh he gets a leading edge back towards the bower. McCoy, a fast bowler in his follow through, pulls off a blinder, diving forward to pluck the ball just above the turf and do a forward somersault to avoid having it spill from his hands.
13th over: Australia 119-6 (Christian 7, Agar 1) Walsh has 2 for 20 from three overs as Agar comes to the crease and drives a run down the ground.
There’s a twist! The main man is gone. Flight from Walsh, just beat Marsh in the air. He tries to push to the on side, and makes a slight mistake in where the ball makes contact. It twists the bat in his hand and leaps back towards the bowler, who completes the catch. More leading edge than bat face. I think that was the googly again.
12th over: Australia 115-5 (Marsh 50, Christian 5) Obed McCoy has had a chance to clear his head, and returns to the bowling crease. Christian goes down on one knee to try a lap shot, but hasn’t read the slower ball out of the back of McCoy’s hand, and gets the ball behind point out of a tangle of limbs for one run. Marsh drives a single to the point sweeper to raise his fifty, his first in this format, twinning Russell in the feat in this match.
31 from 48 balls to win.
11th over: Australia 111-5 (Marsh 49, Christian 2) He was picked as a finisher, and now Christian will have to finish. Though not in the sense of scoring as many as possible off six or eight balls. He can steer Australia here. Picks up a couple of singles to get his first runs for Australia in years. Six runs from the over, plus the wicket. Australia need 35 to win.
We can discreetly say that the shot from McDermott doesn’t end up looking very good. Steps outside his off stump, aims a huge off-side drive that maybe turns into a leg-side hoick halfway through, as he realises the ball is turning into him rather than away. Makes no contact, and the googly hits middle stump.
10th over: Australia 105-4 (Marsh 45, McDermott 2) He’s been so good through point today, has Marsh. Gets width from Allen and smashes it away, along the ground again for four.
9th over: Australia 98-4 (Marsh 39, McDermott 1) DJ Bravo gets a turn at the decks, and starts as he would like with McDermott on strike. Four balls, one single. But the good work is undone by Hetmyer at cover sweeper, who fumbles Marsh’s powerful cut shot and lets it through to the rope.
Australia need 49 in 67 balls.
8th over: Australia 89-4 (Marsh 33, McDermott 0) Curious. Australia need 57 from 72 balls, and absolute stroll, and they’re going at 11 per over. But another wicket or two and this could get tricky.
Double spin with Fabian Allen coming back for the Real (Expensive) McCoy, and Marsh finds another route over the fence. Goes back this time to a shorter ball and pulls, far less elegant than the previous blow but equally effective. The ball takes some time to make its way back to the bowler via a ball hunt, a fourth official, and some sanitising wipes. Soon it cleans up Henriques, who drives square but slices it tamely to backward point for a catch in the circle.
7th over: Australia 80-3 (Marsh 25, Henriques 15) Hayden Walsh comes on with his leg-spin, and lands a few nicely, but at least once an over Australia have an answer. Marsh offers it here, stepping into a fuller ball and launching it for six over extra cover. An attractive drive that just keeps going.
6th over: Australia 70-3 (Marsh 17, Henriques 13) Talk about Entertainment Index: welcome to the action Obed McCoy. A wicket first ball of his night’s work, Moises Henriques comes to the middle, and hits his next two balls for six! Same shot both times, a pick-up pull that carries the fence at deep backward. Smarts and experience from Henriques, using the pace instead of trying to make it. He darts a single to get off strike, and Marsh finishes the over threading a perfect square drive between two fielders at point. So the over featured a wicket first ball, then 17 runs from the next five.
First ball of the match for Obed McCoy! The tall left-arm quick runs in, angles across Philippe, and the Sydney Sixer tries to go over the leg-side infield but chips it to mid on.
5th over: Australia 53-2 (Marsh 13, Philippe 1) Australia’s rate is careering along at nearly 12 per over, as Marsh waits on a drag-down slower ball from Bravo and cracks it through point for four. Bravo tumbles a full slower ball past Philippe’s off stump and goes for a theatrical performance of anguish about how close it was, but... it wasn’t actually that close. Philippe gets off the mark with an on-drive.
4th over: Australia 46-2 (Marsh 8) Andre Russell on to bowl and first ball he’s pulled for six! A spoonful of his own medicine. Short to Wade just outside off, and Wade pulls it flat but so hard that it carries the square leg rope. Truly remarkable shot. He ducks a bouncer that’s more leg side, but attacks the same line next ball, getting more top edge than on the previous shot, and thus directing it well behind square leg away from the spot where his previous shot landed and where a fielder has just been placed.
But from the last ball of the over he finds a fielder. Short ball again but outside the off stump. Wade could have uppercut more softly and the ball might have gone finer, but he gives it the kitchen sink and it goes square, carrying easily to Hetmyer at deep backward point.
3rd over: Australia 32-1 (Wade 20, Marsh 7) A high bouncer from Edwards, hooked off the gloves over the keeper by Wade. That doesn’t dissuade Edwards from trying again two balls later but this time the umpire calls wide. And when Edwards bowls up on a length Wade absolutely smokes it out of the ground. Yes, literally, for the third time today. Over the grandstand on the other side to where Russell hit his. A kind of slog-sweep from Wade against the fast bowler, right out of the middle. Wade just smiles a big beaming smile. That contact must have felt good.
2nd over: Australia 16-1 (Wade 5, Marsh 7) Mitch Marsh is the first drop being tried out by Australia here. He gets a drag-down from Allen to cut for four, which helps.
First ball for the left-arm finger spinner. Finch often likes to go over the off side early in his innings, and falls so doing. Big drive, tries to loft but doesn’t get the height, and extra cover is standing in the ring to take a simple catch.
1st over: Australia 8-0 (Wade 4, Finch 4) Fidel Edwards will start us off, dreadlocks flying as he starts his energetic run to the crease, and similarly his first over is a bit wild and woolly. Some full, some short, a high full toss that smashes Wade on the gloves at waist height, just low enough to be legal. He concedes eight runs.
@GeoffLemonSport Australia appears to be in a canary yellow. They have rid of the traditional black shirt of the T20 game. Is nothing sacred anymore?
West Indies got some sort of total, at least, thanks entirely to Andre Russell. The first of the innings returned 53, the second half returned 93. Advantage Australia, with the old proviso about waiting for both bowling sides to use the surface.
20th over: West Indies 145-6 (Allen 8, Bravo 7) West Indies get one shot away from Hazlewood. The final delivery of the match, he bowls a bouncer and Dwayne Bravo can back away and get enough bat on the pull to send it over the midwicket rope. That still leaves Hazlewood with 3 for 12 from four overs, having bowled the 20th and conceded a six.
Hazlewood’s magic day continues! He has 3 wickets for 4 runs, in his fourth over! And West Indies will have a total up to 24 runs lighter than it might have been. Hazlewood bowls a yorker outside the off stump, lands it perfectly, and Russell has to throw everything at it, but only edges it back onto his leg stump. The show is over.
19th over: West Indies 136-5 (Russell 51, Allen 6) It’s Dan Christian in the action again. Nearly pulls off an outrageous catch. Russell pulls airborne to wide long on. Christian comes running across from long on, dives and reels it in. Sees that he’s going to slide into the rope, and mid-dive, full stretch, flicks the ball back in to Agar who has come across from midwicket. It goes just wide of the younger player, who also dives but can’t snare it. Wild.
Russell is still there though, and he responds with a roundhouse swish for six. A baseball shot really, over midwicket. And incredibly, he has never passed 50 for West Indies in a T20, in 55 matches, 47 innings. Been not out in the 40s a couple of times but before today had never faced more than 21 balls in an innings.
18th over: West Indies 125-5 (Russell 42, Allen 5) Daniel Christian with the tough job of bowling near the death to Russell, and he does it well. Hits his hard length, restricts both batsmen to singles for the first three balls, then comes around the wicket to angle across Russell and draw a fresh air shot. Fifth ball, Russell goes down the ground hard, and both long on and long off are there to save, but they converge and then leave the ball for one another! Should have been one run, it ends up being four. “Come on!” call Christian to his teammates, and staying around the wicket, he bowls a short ball that Russell can’t lay bat on. Eight from the over with a misfield and a wide - that’s a win for the bowler at this stage of the innings.
17th over: West Indies 117-5 (Russell 37, Allen 3) You cannot do that, Andre Russell! Starc comes back to do what he does, bowl unhittable fast yorkers at the death. The first attempt is outside off stump, not quite full enough, a low full toss. Generally very hard to hit, and anyone who does hit one sprays it out on the off side. Russell clubs it over long on for six. The power in that shot! To take a ball of Starc’s pace and send it right back the way it came, not with a straight bat but with a cross-bat drag? That’s praxis. Incredible strength. Starc lands the next on the pitch, wider still of off stump, and Russell is down on one knee getting a full cross-bat swing to send it back over the bowler’s head for six more.
Loses strike, then gets it back for the final ball of the over, and Starc resorts to a slower ball that slips out, a high slow full toss. Somehow that’s the one that Russell misses, just edging on the bounce through to the keeper.
16th over: West Indies 101-5 (Russell 24) The wides work! Mitch Marsh snares a wicket with the eighth ball of his over. Russell has pulled one ball for four, other than which it’s been tidy. Marsh is trying to angle across Hetmyer to finish the over, and keeps bowling too wide outside off stump. Goes once. Goes again. Third time lucky, Hetmyer drives, and the sliced outside edge is taking at short third.
15th over: West Indies 92-4 (Hetmyer 19, Russell 19) Agar to bowl his third. Has a big appeal against Russell as the batsman misses a sweep, but the umpire rules the ball was going down. Russell celebrates by hitting Agar out of the ground! Huuuuuge hit. They’ve lost the ball. It’s literally gone over the stands at deep midwicket. It was on off stump, he dipped his front leg and sent it into space. A version of the slog sweep. When the ball finally returns from the street, Andre Russell does it again. Far wider of off stump, he has to reach for it and drag it to the leg side, hits it flatter and shorter, but the same result. Because it bounces near the entrance gates and then rushes through the turnstiles, outside. Doesn’t stop to get a pass-out. The over nets 16 runs, the first properly big one tonight for West Indies.
14th over: West Indies 76-4 (Hetmyer 17, Russell 6) Nobody can get hold of anything tonight. Hetmyer throws the bat at Marsh and only gets one run down the ground. Russell backs away and slams a cut shot, but it gets stopped at cover. No run. Then he’s similarly saved at midwicket - it’s notionally a dropped catch by Henriques, but the pull shot is travelling and he saves three runs by getting in its way. Hetmyer drives through cover. Three singles from Mitch Marsh in the 14th over! That’s when you know that a bowling side is on top.
13th over: West Indies 73-4 (Hetmyer 15, Russell 5) There goes Russell, batting bareheaded, a clean swing through the line at Zampa and bashes it back over the bowler’s head for four. Again, only one boundary from the over, seven runs in total. They’ve got 42 balls left.
12th over: West Indies 66-4 (Hetmyer 13, Russell 0) A boundary for Hetmyer off his pads behind square before the run out, and they finish with 7 from the over as Andre Russell arrives at the crease. It’ll take one of his special innings to get West Indies to any sort of total.
That is a bizarre run out. Starc returns, and gets a wicket by sowing confusing. A fast swinging yorker hits Hetmyer on the ankle, the Australians are all appealing, and in the confusion Pooran is thinking about stealing a single for the leg bye. Hetmyer isn’t thinking about it at all, he’s thinking about the umpire’s imminent decision, then starts to stutter down the pitch as well. Josh Philippe is wise to it, and he swoops in from midwicket to snare the ball and underarm at the non-striker’s stumps. Pooran has not quite got back.
Pooran then is stopped at the boundary line as the umpire remembers that by the protocol, he should check whether a wicket had in fact fallen lbw before the run out took place. He rolls through the DRS process and finds the ball was going down leg.
11th over: West Indies 59-3 (Hetmyer 7, Pooran 17) The go-slow continues. Pooran tries to take on Zampa but can’t read him: ends up stuck in the pose after a huge cover drive that makes no contact with a googly, then gets beaten on the outside edge by a ball that slides across him. Zampa gives a gift with a full toss outside leg that Pooran keep sweep for four, but his only other score is a leading-edge single when Pooran tries to pull, after which Hetmyer flicks a single.
10th over: West Indies 53-3 (Hetmyer 6, Pooran 12) Nearing the halfway mark of the innings and not even 50 on the board, this is a crazy scoreline for a big-hitting team. Pooran decides to go. Rocks back to pull Marsh to deep midwicket and there’s nearly a catch. Agar rightly decides to go for it, coming in off the rope. Doesn’t quite reach it, and the half volley beats him for four. But you can afford that risk. Then Pooran carves in the air through backward point, another near catch that ends up at the boundary. They’re at least past the 50 now.
9th over: West Indies 42-3 (Hetmyer 5, Pooran 2) Dan Christian gets the ball. Welcome back.
I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with Pollard: he tweaked his hamstring taking a quick run while batting during the last South Africa game a few days ago.
8th over: West Indies 38-3 (Hetmyer 4, Pooran 1) The next generation together for West Indies then: Pooran joins Hetmyer. They have a lot of work to do. Four runs and a wicket from the Marsh over.
A bowling change brings the wicket of the set player. Marsh bowls pretty regulation seam-up most of the team. Back of a length, as per Hazlewood. This ball isn’t a cutter, it’s bolt upright, but still moves away from the bat a touch. Simmons is just hanging that bat out there, trying to run the ball away for a single, but gets it finer than that into the keeper’s gloves.
7th over: West Indies 34-2 (Simmons 27, Hetmyer 2) Adam Zampa comes on, the leg-spinner. Causes a few problems as well, with a miscue from Simmons before a loud lbw appeal against Hetmyer. Bit of a bat on that one. Simmons knows they need to pick up the pace, and goes for it to end the over with a full ball landing on the line of leg stump. He digs out the lofted hit, not getting all of it, but just enough to clear the rope at long on.
6th over: West Indies 24-2 (Simmons 19, Hetmyer 0) Three overs, two wickets, three runs for Hazlewood. Outstanding. And one of those runs was the wide. I’ll say this clearly: there is a consistent misunderstanding of the Laws by umpires. This happens across cricket. The wide law bases the ruling on the original position of the batter, not on whether the ball passes leg stump. Gayle in that case moved his back leg across, and then the ball passed behind that leg. Had he stayed put, it would have hit his leg outside the line of the leg stump. That is not a wide. It’s a mistake that we see made again and again, in matches around the world. Not a normal mistake, but a failure to have the Laws properly interpreted in training or corrected after matches. This really shouldn’t be hard to fix, but it isn’t being done.
If a player started off with a guard that was inside the line of leg stump, then anything past leg stump would be a wide. But that almost never happens. They start with the back of their leg outside the line of leg stump, and that is the wide line.
The contrast in styles is fascinating. Starc, seen as a white-ball weapon, one over and then off. Hazlewood, seen as a Test player, into his third over off the top of the innings. And why not? They can’t score a run from him. He keeps bowling back of a length, and Simmons swings, angles, moves around his crease, and still can’t get bat on ball. The bounce keeps foxing him, and good pace. It takes him four balls to find a single. Gayle gets a wide, then tries to play a pull shot. He starts with low hands, trying to pull from around waist height, and he too is done in by the bounce.
5th over: West Indies 22-0 (Simmons 18, Gayle 4) There he goes! Simmons hits the first six of the night, stepping away from his stumps and dragging Agar over midwicket. Agar was going at the stumps as he generally does, and Simmons counters that. He mistimes a single away from an attempted leg-side shot, leaving Gayle the chance to get off strike with a booming square drive to a wider ball, Agar losing his line now that a left-hander has replaced a right.
4th over: West Indies 11-0 (Simmons 11, Gayle 0) The slow start continues! Josh Hazlewood bowls a scoreless over, truly rare in T20 cricket. Chris Gayle often starts slow, and he’s facing high quality stuff. Hazlewood hits a perfect length, the kind that Gayle can’t get forward but which still isn’t short, a slight angle across the left-hander, moving away from him consistently. Gayle decides to see it off.
3rd over: West Indies 11-0 (Simmons 11, Gayle 0) Only the one over for Starc first up, as Ashton Agar gets an early look at this surface. And starts beautifully! One scoring shot from the over, for two runs, for a left-arm spinner in the Powerplay. Agar mostly bowls in at the stumps, with one or two wider and moving away, at a difficult length. Simmons faces out the lot, finding the field a couple of times, and getting a leading edge that he’s lucky to see fall safely on the off side. He’s 11 off 16, not an opener’s flying start.
2nd over: West Indies 9-0 (Simmons 9, Gayle 0) The familiar hulking form of Chris Gayle walks to the middle, in his now-customary spot at first drop where he’s done well in recent editions of the IPL. He’s at the non-striker’s end given the previous pair crossed before the catch was taken. The only score from the over is a hopping glance by Simmons for a single. Good start, Josh H.
That was easy. Josh Hazlewood bangs his first two balls in short. The left-handed Lewis loves to hit a six, and goes for the second delivery with a pull shot. Cloughs it, toe and top edge so that it hangs in the air, and Mitchell Marsh moves around well from mid-on to take a running catch on the edge of the circle towards midwicket.
1st over: West Indies 8-0 (Simmons 8, Lewis 0) Starc commences, the left-armer swinging the ball into the pads as is customary when he bowled against right-handers. Lendl Simmons gets lucky when he nicks a ball that swings in a touch, he’s anticipating more and misreads the line, and he’s rewarded with four runs, then he gets a square drive out of the middle of the bat for four more.
Both teams takes the knee before the first ball is bowled. This is... I’ll choose the adjective interesting, given that Australia declined to make this gesture last year in England or during their own home summer. From memory there were some players who wanted to and other voices that argued against it, and overall the team wanted a consistent approach. They took some criticism for it from Michael Holding among others. But now that Australia is playing in a majority-Black country, and with an Indigenous player in their own ranks, the knee is taken by all on the field.
This looks like... Allen Chastanet. The Prime Minister of St Lucia has dropped by, casually dressed in a polo shirt and face mask, to meet the teams before the anthems. He goes with elbow bumps instead of handshakes, and exchanges pleasantries with Australia’s team manager Gavin Dovey and coach Justin Langer either side of being introduced to each player in the squad by Finch.
The St Lucia anthem plays, then Australia’s anthem, then Rally Round the West Indies. We’re all anthemed out.
Samuel Badree - previously recognised by current player DJ Bravo as a Champion - has jumped the fence into the media enclosure. Not literally, that would be a bio-breach. But he’s on camera presenting the pitch report rather than playing. Curtly Ambrose makes grave pronouncements about whether some cracks in the pitch will open up. (Doubt it. It’s nighttime in St Lucia and we’ve got 40 overs to play.) The surface looks super hard, almost shiny, like clean Teflon.
DAN CHRISTIAN IS BACK!
Yes, that’s worth Caps Lock. One of the most respected and affectionately regarded players within Australian cricket, who has increasingly become a leader and spokesman for Indigenous players, while also becoming one of the most successful and effective T20 players winning every league there is to win around the world. He played a handful of games for Australia in ODI and T20 cricket, and that inclusion ended in 2014 aside from a one-off T20 match in 2017.
T20 cricket 101, certainly to start a series: choose to chase. That means you get to look at an unfamiliar surface while the other team has to bat on it, and you know exactly what your task is once it’s your turn. Aaron Finch gets that early advantage.
One really can’t be sure, in this pandemic day and age, whether a cricket series will actually go ahead until it starts. In the last week we’ve had England’s entire ODI squad get landed in quarantine after a rash of positive tests, and then Sri Lanka’s series against India get delayed by a few days after Sri Lankan staff members caught the bug during their England tour.
But in St Lucia at least, as in a number of places across the Caribbean, the corona threat has been largely contained. The visiting Australians will play the West Indies here in five Twenty20 Internationals, before moving on to Barbados for three 50-over games. The latter series is important for the ODI Super League that sorts out qualification for the next ODI World Cup. But more important in the first instance are the T20 matches, with a T20 World Cup coming up in just a few months from now.