Cricket: Richardson raises tempo in Australia

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Australia 503-9 dec and 117-0

West Indies 606

Match drawn

RICHIE RICHARDSON'S scenario, optimistic and unrealistic as it may have been, typified the psychological shift that occurred during the last three days of the third Test that ended in a draw yesterday.

'Despite playing here in Sydney (where the West Indies had lost eight and won only one of 11 previous Tests) I felt we had a chance and even today I thought we could still do it,' the West Indies captain said after the match had been officially called off, having yielded 1,226 runs and only 19 wickets on a slow, lifeless pitch. 'I hoped we would get a lead of about 150 and give Australia two sessions to defend that.'

As it was he had to be content with the 10th West Indian total of over 600 in Tests, 606 when the last wicket fell 35 minutes after lunch, and a first-innings lead of 103. There was no embarrassment for Australia as their openers David Boon and Mark Taylor comfortably added 117 before the end. In a match replete with personal landmarks, both added to the tally. Boon became the eighth Australian to pass 5,000 runs in Tests, and the left-handed Taylor soon followed with his 2,000th.

Exactly a week earlier, the West Indies had collapsed to the leg- spin of Shane Warne on the final day of the second Test in Melbourne and lost by 139 runs. Richardson put a brave face on that disappointment and talked about having to regroup and summoning all his team's fighting qualitites.

When Australia amassed 503 for 9 declared over the first two days here, and quickly despatched the West Indies' openers, Phillip Simmons and Desmond Haynes, for 31 in reply, Richardson's inexperienced team faced a serious crisis and a stern test of character.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, although barely a man. Aged 23 and in his fifth Test, Brian Lara, a neat precocious little left-hander from a Trinidadian family of 11, took this moment to fashion what has been hailed ever since by all of the game's most eminent commentators and participants as one of the finest innings of the modern era. His 277 studded with 38 boundaries to every section of the ground with almost every stroke in the book, dominated all else.

Richardson kept Lara vital supportive company while 293 was added, a partnership that initially restored West Indian self-belief. The subsequent surge to beyond 600 fully capitalised on their work.

'Especially having lost in Melbourne, to have come here and to produce a total like that certainly lifted our morale quite a bit,' Richardson said. 'We are one behind and we cannot leave these shores losing.'

The Australian captain, Allan Border, said: 'We are 1-0 up with two Tests to play. I'm looking at winning the series without question.'

The series now breaks as the limited overs World Series tournament, also involving Pakistan, resumes in Brisbane this weekend. Traditionally the good batting conditions in Adelaide, venue for the fourth Test, would suggest a draw and the fast bouncy pitch in Perth favouritism for the West Indies for the fifth Test.

The series is certainly ripe for an exhilarating finish.

(Final day: Australia won toss)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 503 for 9 dec (S R Waugh 100, G R J Matthews 79).

WEST INDIES - First Innings

(Overnight: 488 for 5)

C L Hooper b Warne 21

J C Adams not out 77

J R Murray b Hughes c Healy 11

I R Bishop run out 1

C E L Ambrose c Martyn b M Waugh 16

C A Walsh c Healy b Hughes 0

Extras (4b, 9lb, 8nb, 1w) 22

Total 606

Fall: 1-13 2-31 3-324 4-448 5-481 6-537 7-573 8-577 9-603.

Bowling: McDermott 33-3-119-1; Hughes 16.4-1-76-3; Matthews 59-12-169-2; S Waugh 11-1-43-0; Warne

41-6-116-1; Border 14-1-41-0; M Waugh 10-1-29-1.

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings

M A Taylor not out 46

D C Boon not out 63

Extras (1b 2lb 5nb) 8

Total (for 0) 117

Bowling: Ambrose 6-2-10-0; Bishop 4-1-9-0; Simmons 3-2-9-0; Walsh 8-3-13-0; Hooper 10-2-22-0; Adams 8-1-29-0; Arthurton 5-1-14-0; Lara 2-0-4-0; Richardson 1-0-4-0.

MATCH DRAWN

(Australia lead five-Test series 1-0)

First Test (Brisbane): Drawn.

Second Test (Melbourne): Australia won by 139 runs.

Fourth Test (Adelaide): 23 to 27 January.

Fifth Test (Perth): 30 January to 3 February.

(Photograph omitted)

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