Australia brushed aside the challenge from West Indies with ease last week, sweeping the two-match Test series after the tourists put on a forgettable performance. The hosts were simply unmatched with both bat and ball in the Frank Worrell Trophy, winning both Tests by comfortable margins.
With the Aussies now preparing for the real challenge against the Proteas over the Australian summer, here are five talking points from the just concluded Test series between Australia and West Indies.
West Indies continue to languish at the bottom
The downfall of cricket in the West Indies has attracted much attention in the last few years, but the solution to the crisis seems far from clear even now.
The result against Australia is just another indication of the extent to which things have gone haywire inside their camp. The lack of meaningful bench strength became clear over the past month, with a spate of injuries sidelining the first-choice players from taking the field.
The lack of enthusiasm shown by the players on the field was reflected in the final scores as West Indies lost the first Test in Perth by 164 runs and capitulated in the second Test by a whopping 419 runs. Frequent changes in captaincy, coaching staff, and one administrative crisis after another have hurt morale within the camp.
Ultimately, it was the lack of a sponsor on their shirt which exemplifies the state of West Indies cricket right now. Unlike the money-rich Indian and Australian boards, the West Indies Cricket Board is simply unable to attract the brightest talent towards the game.
The future of cricket in the Caribbean is now in doubt, with only the upcoming T20 World Cup standing as the last hope for a revival of the game.
David Warner’s lack of form
Amidst all the drama surrounding David Warner’s decision to withdraw his appeal for a review of his captaincy ban, the Australian opener’s form in the series continues to be lacklustre. It is now three years since David Warner scored a century for Australia in the longest format of the game, continuing a dry spell that saw just four half-centuries in his last 26 innings.
David Warner’s place in the squad is now under doubt as his form in both India and England is particularly poor. On India’s challenging spin-friendly tracks, he averages just 24, while in England, he averages just 26.
With the star announcing that he might retire from Test cricket by the end of next year, the upcoming series against Proteas might be his final opportunity to turn around his form and book a berth for the Ashes and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Nathan Lyon reaches milestone
By picking up Alzarri Joseph’s wicket in the second Test, Nathan Lyon reached a milestone of 450 wickets in Test cricket – the third bowler to achieve that feat from Australia. He is also the second off-spinner to do so after Muttiah Muralitharan, and the second spinner from Australia to do so behind the legendary Shane Warne.
The 35-year-old’s longevity and consistency have been key to his success, with the team relying on him both at home and on spin-friendly subcontinental tracks to win matches.
With 450 wickets from 112 Tests, Nathan Lyon will be within reach of the 500-wicket milestone by next summer, with Australia scheduled to play at least seven Tests before the Ashes commence in England.
Marnus Labuschagne displaces Joe Root
While the focus has been on Steve Smith’s incredible double-century in the first Test in Perth, Marnus Labuschagne has finally claimed his spot among the elite of Test cricket with his terrific performance throughout the series. Labuschagne scored a double-century and a century in the first Test and followed it up with a century in the first innings of the second Test.
With an aggregate score of 502 runs in the series at an average of 167.33, Marnus Labuschagne has displaced Joe Root as the top-ranking batsman in Test cricket.
The duo of Labuschagne and Steve Smith will form the key for Australia’s fortunes over the next few months, with the Ashes clash against Ben Stokes’ new-look England offering the prospect of entertaining Test cricket.
Australia’s World Test Championship berth
With a clean sweep of the series, Australia tightened their grip over one of the two slots in the World Test Championship final scheduled to be held in June 2023. Pakistan’s loss in the Multan Test means that the contest is now between Australia, South Africa, and India.
With a 75.00% win rate, Australia are now much ahead of the other two teams in the standings, and they need to win just three Tests out of the remaining seven. South Africa also have a reasonable chance of qualifying if they manage to win just one Test in the upcoming series and their focus will likely remain on the final berth.
With the tour against Proteas being held on familiar home tracks before they start their difficult tour of India, Australia would like to seal their berth with a clean sweep of the upcoming series.
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