Cricket: W Indies end Test drought

Australia 256 & 177 West Indies 431 & 3-0 West Indies win by 10 wickets
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The Independent Online
THE WEST INDIES took three-quarters of an hour to complete victory over Australia by 10 wickets in the second Test at Sabina Park yesterday. The win ended a depressing sequence of six defeats and, according to captain Brian Lara, regained their pride and self-belief.

Courtney Walsh, their longest-serving player in his 108th Test, took his overall tally of Test wickets to 410 when Jason Gillespie was caught down the leg side off the glove by the wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs. Nehemiah Perry, the off-spinner in his first Test, ended the innings with his fifth wicket when he had Stuart MacGill caught at leg slip. The West Indies openers then needed four balls to complete the formality of scoring three runs.

Lara, whose devastating 213 inspired the triumph, was "elated and relieved" at the result but cautioned against proclaiming it an instant renaissance of a team that had been at its lowest ebb only eight days earlier following a second innings total of 51 and a drubbing by 312 runs in the first Test.

"Most importantly, we've gained the confidence that we need and that has been lacking for the past five or six months in West Indies cricket," he said. "I'd like to say it is the turning point for us but now we've got the confidence, we've got to put together a greater team effort with bat, ball and especially in the field to ensure we dominate the remainder of the series."

Lara more than any contemporary cricketer knows how fickle the fates can be and is taking nothing for granted. "Australia are capable of bouncing back. They're going to come back even harder in the next Test match."

Lara's performance not only virtually determined the outcome of the match, but also guaranteed his captaincy for the remainder of this series as well as this summer's World Cup. The West Indies Cricket Board, disturbed by the 5-0 whitewash in the preceding Test series in South Africa, had placed him on probation as captain for only two Tests. That issue was settled once Lara started to plunder the Australian bowling on Sunday afternoon.

Such stability will strengthen the West Indies as will the likely return of two regulars, the all-rounder Carl Hooper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the left-handed batsman, for the third Test in Bridgetown from 26 to 30 March. Hooper has been in Adelaide with his Australian wife since the end of the South Africa tour while their infant son recovered from illness. Chanderpaul has been restricted by damaged shoulder ligaments.

In their absence, the West Indies' team in this Test was the most inexperienced since Kerry Packer hijacked all their leading players in 1977. It rendered their triumph all the more remarkable.

Perry and the batsman Lincoln Roberts were making their debuts, the batsmen Suruj Ragoonath, who hit the winning runs, and Dave Joseph and the left- arm fast bowler Pedro Collins, were in their second Tests. It simply underscored the enormity of the West Indies' win.

Fourth day; Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA - First innings 256 (S R Waugh 100, M E Waugh 67; C A Walsh 4-55).

WEST INDIES - First innings 431 (B C Lara 213, J C Adams 94; G D McGrath 5-93).

AUSTRALIA - Second innings

(Overnight 157 for 8)

J N Gillespie c Jacobs b Walsh 7

S C G MacGill c Joseph b Perry 7

G.McGrath not out 11

Extras (lb3 nb16) 19

Total 177

Fall (cont): 9-159

Bowling: Ambrose 14-4-28-1; Walsh 18-3-52-3; Perry 26-8-70-5; Collins 8-0-24-0.

WEST INDIES - Second innings

S Ragoonath not out 2

S L Campbell not out 1

Extras 0

Total (for 0, 0.3 overs) 3

Bowling: McGrath 0.3-0-3-0.

Umpires: S R Bucknor (WI) and P Willey (Eng).

First Test: Australia won by 312 runs

Third test: March 26 to 30 (Bridgetown, Barbados).