AUSTRALIA'S batsmen spent two painful hours on the second day of the fourth Test yesterday on the receiving end of the kind of relentless hostility they have come to fear and expect from West Indies fast bowling.
Battered and bruised they limped to 100 for 3 in reply to the West Indies 252 with one of their main batsmen, David Boon retired hurt. They were relieved when unseasonal rain saved them further punishment and ended play at three o'clock with only 28 of the day's allotted 90 overs complete.
Three times the team physiotherapist, Errol Alcott, was summoned on to the ground to administer pain-killing balm to limbs and bodies pounded by bowling of awesome speed and aggression from Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop.
Alcott was accompanied on his first mercy dash of the day by the resident doctor when, after 25 minutes Boon turned his back on a flyer from Ambrose and was struck on his unprotected left forearm. Writhing in agony he was obliged to retire for the first time in his 127 Test innings but an X-ray revealed there was no break and, even if the area is bruised and swollen, the hardy Tasmanian will bat later in the innings.
Yet the umpires, Len King and Daryl Hair, never had cause to invoke the International Cricket Council's new bouncer regulation even once. The pace quartet had their radars locked on a zone between waist and chest and few shots were wasted over the batsman's head. The departure of the dependable Boon was a blow to Australia in every sense and clearly affected Mark Waugh, who passed the retiring opener and his medical entourage on his way to the wicket in the middle of an Ambrose over that he did not survive.
Driving airily at his second delivery he edged a sharp catch to third slip.
The 22-year-old left-hander Justin Langer, who had already experienced the West Indian aggression in his brief debut appearance the previous afternoon, shuffled more convincingly into position and it was lack of experience not technique or temperament that caused his downfall. Anxious to attack Benjamin's less menacing pace he hooked at a bouncer and gloved a wicket- keeper's catch, and was out for 20.
Steve Waugh, the No 3 before Langer, survived the assault as well as dropped chances, low to cover off Walsh and to the unsteady wicket-keeper Junior Murray off Ambrose, in the space of seven deliveries at 23 and 27. He remained unbeaten. Allan Border showed no such discomfort but then again he has seen it all before in his 137 Tests - Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft and many more besides.
(Second day: West Indies won toss)
WEST INDIES - First Innings D L Haynes st Healy b May. . . . . . .45 P V Simmons c Hughes b S R Waugh. . . 46 * R B Richardson lbw b Hughes. . . . . 2 B C Lara c Healy b McDermott. . . . . 52 K L Arthurton c S R Waugh b May. . . . 0 C L Hooper c Healy b Hughes. . . . . . 2 J R Murray not out. . . . . . . . . . 49 I R Bishop c M Waugh b Hughes. . . . .13 C E L Ambrose c Healy b Hughes. . . . .0 K C G Benjamin b M E Waugh. . . . . . 15 C A Walsh lbw b Hughes. . . . . . . . 5 Extras (lb11 nb12). . . . . . . . . . 23 Total (67.3 overs). . . . . . . . . 252
Fall: 1-84 2-99 3-129 4-130 5-134 6-189 7-206 8-206 9-247.
Bowling: McDermott 16-1-85-1 (7nb); Hughes 21.3- 3-64-5 (4nb); S R Waugh 13-4-37-1; May 14-1-41-2 (1nb); Warne 2-0-11-0; M E Waugh 1-0-3-1.
AUSTRALIA - First Innings
(Overnight: 2 for 1) M A Taylor c Hooper b Bishop. . . . . .1 D C Boon retired hurt. . . . . . . . . 2 J L Langer c Murray b Benjamin. . . . 20 M E Waugh c Simmons b Ambrose. . . . . 0 S R Waugh not out. . . . . . . . . . .35 * A R Border not out. . . . . . . . . 18 Extras (b7 lb2 nb15). . . . . . . . . 24 Total (for 3, 35 overs). . . . . . . 100
To bat: I A Healy, M G Hughes, S K Warne, T B A May, C J McDermott.
Fall: 1-1 2-16 3-46.
Bowling (to date): Ambrose 13-5-25-1; Bishop 12-3- 24-1; Benjamin 6-0-22-1; Walsh 4-1-20-0.Reuse content