The statistics made hard reading for the West Indies. It was their third worst defeat of all time and their worst since losing to England by an innings and 237 runs at the Oval 40 years ago. It was also their biggest defeat against Australia since the 1930-31 series.
The Australian captain, Mark Taylor, pronounced the established West Indies doctrine of pure pace outdated in modern international cricket. "To be a good cricket team in the current environment, on current wickets, you need some variety, you need to change the pace of the game," he said.
Taylor used the contrasting wrist spin of Shane Warne and the left arm of Michael Bevan to undermine uncertain batsmen in both innings. Warne denied his great adversary Brian Lara his first 100 of a disappointing series when the left-hander edged a catch to the wicketkeeper, Ian Healy, after 25 minutes. Lara had added 13 to his overnight 65.
Bevan ended the match by having the No 11 Patterson Thompson well caught by their century-maker Matthew Hayden at silly point. The spinner finished with career-best figures of 6 for 82 in 22.4 overs.
Taylor, a bold and imaginative leader who has fought desperately to find form as a left-handed opening batsman in the series, reckoned Australia would never play a Test under him with four fast bowlers.
"The West Indies have had a formula now from about the late 1970s of picking four quick bowlers and being able to continually beat sides with that," Taylor said. "But the Australian team overcame that [in the Caribbean] in 1994. We knew that was their tactic and they didn't have much else after that. We conquered it then and we conquered it now.
"I don't think Australia would ever play a Test match with four quicks if I were captain. I wouldn't like it. I wouldn't care what the wicket was like. You just like something there that's going to make a difference. When things aren't going well you can change the pace of the game."
The West Indies were running out of fast bowlers when Kenny Benjamin and Nixon McLean were obliged to return home with injuries and the problem was compounded when Curtly Ambrose, their premier strike bowler, had to withdraw from the starting 11 on the morning of the match. The West Indies chose the wayward, if fast, Thompson and the Curtly Ambrose carbon-copy, Cameron Cuffy. Nevertheless, Australia amassed a total of 517.
Courtney Walsh, the West Indies captain, acknowledged there would be a lot of discussion back in the Caribbean on how to get the formula right but he did not accept that should mean changing the policy of pure pace.
"I'm not saying that it should be a God-given state that you have four fast bowlers, but I know we have four good enough to play," he said. "Whenever slow bowlers come along who can win matches for us, I'm sure the West Indies will pick them."
Walsh said his team's first innings total of 130 had laid the foundations for disaster. "It was clear 130 wasn't enough in the first innings on that wicket," he said. "You've got to give Australia credit. Once we gave them chances they took them. They are deserved winners. They outplayed us in three Tests of a five-Test series," he said.
Walsh refused to blame Lara's poor form for the series loss. "It is a team effort," he said. "The other times Brian has failed the rest have produced the runs. But in this series everyone has failed.
"All great players go through these patches. I'm not going to pick on Brian because he hasn't got runs - great players do fail from time to time. If Brian's struggling, other guys should be good enough to give him the support to get his touch back. We have other players here who should be trying to emulate his achievements and step up when Brian is not having a good series," Walsh said.
The fifth and final Test starts in Perth on Saturday after which the West Indies return home for an immediate series of five Tests against India. The direction of their cricket will be determined in that time.
Fourth day; West Indies won toss
WEST INDIES - First Innings 130 (M G Bevan 4-31, S K Warne 3-42)
AUSTRALIA - First Innings 517 (M L Hayden 125, M E Waugh 82, G S Blewett 99, M G Bevan 85no)
WEST INDIES - Second Innings
(Overnight 154 for 6)
B C Lara c Healy b Warne 78
J R Murray c Taylor b Bevan 25
*C A Walsh c Steve Waugh b Bevan 1
C E Cuffy not out 3
P I C Thompson c Hayden b Bevan 6
Extras (b2 lb5 nb6) 13
Total (69.4 overs, 260min) 204
Fall: 6-181 7-192 8-196 9-204.
Bowling: McGrath 17-4-31-1 (nb5); Bichel 8-4-16-0; Bevan 22.4-3-82-6 (nb1); Warne 20-4-68-3; Blewett 2-2-0-0.
Australia won by an innings and 183 runs
Man of the match: M G Bevan (Aus).
Umpires: S Randell (Aus) and D Shepherd (Eng).
First Test (Brisbane): Australia won by 123 runs.
Second Test (Sydney): Australia won by 124 runs.
Third Test (Melbourne): West Indies won by six wickets.
Fifth Test (Perth): Starts SaturdayReuse content