Aussies not so invincible
THERE HAS BEEN an interlude to the aura of invincibility which Australia had in world cricket for most of the last two decades.
The Aussies are no longer seen as the awesome, intimidating and all-conquering outfit which annihilated opponents on the world stage under the leadership of Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor and Ricky Ponting.
Ponting, now at the twilight of his 162-match Test career in which he has amassed 13 200 runs at an average of 53.44 with 41 centuries, is on what will surely be his last series in the Caribbean. A lot will depend on him and the experienced Michael Hussey (70 Tests, 5 489 runs, ave: 50.82, 16 centuries) and new captain Michael Clarke (80 Tests, 5 909 runs, ave: 49.65, 19 centuries).
The overall Test statistics show that the two countries have contested 108 Tests between 1930 and 2009 with Australia winning 52, losing 32 and drawing 23 with the famous 1960-61 tied Test at Brisbane.
Following the 5-1 thrashing which Clive Lloyd’s side received “Down Under” in 1975-76, the West Indies prevailed in most of the other series until 1995. The Windies won 3-1 at home in 1977-78 and also 2-0 in the 1979-80 away rubber.
The 1981-82 series was drawn 1-1 but the West Indies triumphed 3-0 when the Australians came to the Caribbean in 1983-84 and also won 3-1 in Australia the following year.
In the 1988-89 series in Australia, the West Indies achieved a 3-1 success and followed that up with a 2-1 victory when the Australians came to the Caribbean in 1991.
The Windies also whipped the Aussies 2-1 in the 1992-93 rubber in Australia but the pendulum has dramatically shifted Australia’s way from 1995 when Taylor’s side defeated the West Indies 2-1 in the Caribbean.
Since then, Australia have not lost any of the last seven series contested between the teams, keeping the Frank Worrell Trophy, symbol of cricket supremacy between the countries, safely “Down Under”.
In 1996-97, Australia won a close and compelling contest 3-2 at home but were unbelievably held to a 2-2 draw in the Caribbean in 1999, mainly through the phenomenal scoring of then West Indies’ captain Brian Lara.
After that, it was smooth sailing for the Aussies. They whitewashed the West Indies 5-0 in Australia in 2000-2001; won 3-1 in the Caribbean in 2003 when the Windies avoided another clean-sweep with a historic record-breaking run-chase at the Antigua Recreation Ground, scoring 418 for victory. The Aussies continued on their winning crusade, by blanking the West Indies 3-0 in 2005 in their own regional backyard.
On their next trip to region, the Aussies won 2-0 and had a similar result in the last series between the teams in 2009-2010 “Down Under”.
This will be the biggest challenge for the loyal Sammy, who has been at the helm for the last 13 Tests, winning two, drawing seven and losing four, a record which is not really any worse than his predecessor Chris Gayle, who had three wins, eight draws, and nine losses in 20?Tests as captain.
A lot will depend on the evergreen Shivnarine Chanderpaul (137 Tests, 9 709 runs, average 49.28, 24 centuries), who will be looking to guide both Darren Bravo and Kirk Edwards.
In just 13 Tests, Bravo has 1155 runs at an average of 52.50 with three centuries while Edwards has 595 runs in his six Tests at an average of 54.09 with two centuries.
Chanderpaul (1271 runs, ave: 63.55, three centuries) will also be looking to become the West Indies’ highest run-scorer in Tests at “The Mecca”. He needs 69 more runs to overtake Lara, who amassed 1339 runs in 15 Tests between 1992 and 2005 at an average of 53.56 with three hundreds at the historic venue.