Cricket: Australia fall short by single run

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The Independent Online
West Indies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .252 and 146

Australia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .213 and 184

West Indies won by one run

A MATCH embodying all of Test cricket's most endearing and enduring features produced a fittingly dramatic climax here yesterday. In overcast conditions just before 6 o'clock, a delivery from Courtney Walsh lifted to brush the glove of Australia's last man, Craig McDermott, on its way through to the wicketkeeper, Junior Murray, to seal victory for the West Indies by one run and level the series at 1-1.

It was the narrowest winning margin in Test cricket's long and colourful history, and it was fought out between two teams who have contested several such pulsating finishes, including the first tie 32 years ago. The fifth and final Test starts in Perth on Saturday.

Following the fascinating pattern of the first three days, when the advantage swung one way and then the next, the last was again filled with the unexpected.

Australia started with the seemingly straightforward target of 186 to win and secure their first series triumph over the West Indies since 1975-76. The prospect of a triumph on Australia Day drew an unusually large weekday crowd of 14,113. But, for much of it, they watched as their flag was lowered by opponents defending a long record of invincibility - and inspired yet again by the fast bowling of Curtly Ambrose.

When they lost four wickets for 10 runs immediately after lunch to be 74 for 7, they seemed down and out. Justin Langer, the diminutive 22-year-old left-hander playing in his debut Test, was the only remaining specialist batsman and their captain, Allan Border, admitted that he felt then there was no chance. He had obviously paid no heed to the extraordinary fluctuations that marked the match from its start.

Langer belatedly found partners to stay with him against a tiring attack. Shane Warne remained an hour and a quarter while 28 were added, and Tim May, the bowling hero of the previous afternoon, stayed three-quarters of an hour to add a further 42.

As the realisation dawned that Australia were snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, hundreds poured into the ground from the nearby offices. When Langer's dogged vigil of four and a quarter hours was ended with a catch to Murray off Walsh half an hour after tea, another 42 were required from May and McDermott.

As the target got closer, strains of 'Waltzing Matilda' echoed around the picturesque ground and every run, leg-bye, no-ball and even defensive stroke was cheered as if it had won the match for Australia.

When the pair got to within 15, Richie Richardson summoned Ambrose for one final burst alongside Walsh. But his main strike bowler had been drained by the exertion of 23 previous overs and made no impact.

When Walsh started the 79th over to May, Australia needed three for a victory that would have regained the Frank Worrell Trophy, which they surrendered in 1978-79. May collected a single off the third ball, giving McDermott the strike. The sixth was short and rising above middle stump, McDermott could not get his gloves out of the way and, even before the catch was safely in the keeper's gloves, the West Indians were celebrating with an outpouring of relief and emotion.

Border described the first hour of the day, when the openers David Boon and Mark Taylor were dismissed, and the first hour after lunch, when Ambrose removed Steve Waugh, Border and Merv Hughes for 4 runs off 19 deliveries, as 'the killer periods for us'.

Australia seemed doomed at that stage, but it took another couple of hours for the match to reveal its final fascinating twist.

(Fourth day: West Indies won toss)

WEST INDIES - First Innings 252 (B C Lara 52; M G Hughes 5-64).

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 213 (M G Hughes 43; C E L Ambrose 6-74).

WEST INDIES - Second Innings 146 (R B Richardson 72; T B A May 5-9).

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings

M A Taylor c Murray b Benjamin. . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

D C Boon lbw b Ambrose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

J L Langer c Murray b Bishop. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54

M E Waugh c Hooper b Walsh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26

S R Waugh c Arthurton b Ambrose. . . . . . . . . . . . .4

*A R Border c Haynes b Ambrose. . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

I A Healy b Walsh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

M G Hughes lbw b Ambrose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

S K Warne lbw b Bishop. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

T B A May not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42

C J McDermott c Murray b Walsh. . . . . . . . . . . . .18

Extras (b1 lb8 nb13). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Total (79 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .184

Fall: 1-5 2-16 3-54 4-64 5-72 6-73 7-74 8-102 9-144.

Bowling: Ambrose 26-5-46-4 (4nb); Bishop 17-3-41-2 (2nb); Benjamin 12-2-32-1 (4nb); Walsh 19-4-44-3 (3nb); Hooper 5-1-12-0.

WEST INDIES WON BY ONE RUN

Fifth Test: Perth (30 Jan to 3 Feb).

----------------------------------------------------------------- CLOSEST TEST MATCH FINISHES ----------------------------------------------------------------- Result Teams Venue Tie Australia v West Indies Brisbane, 1960-61 (West Indies 453 and 284; Australia 505 and 232) Tie India v Australia Madras, 1986-87 (Australia 574 for 7 dec and 170 for 5 dec; India 397 and 347) One run West Indies beat Australia Adelaide, 1992-93 (West Indies 252 and 146; Australia 213 and 184) Three runs England beat Australia Melbourne, 1982-83 (England 284 and 294; Australia 287 and 288) Three runs Australia beat England Old Trafford, 1902 (Australia 299 and 86; England 262 and 120) -----------------------------------------------------------------

Gooch joins centurions' club,

Martin Johnson, page 30

(Photograph omitted)

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