There is hardly a Test match ground that has not witnessed the embarrassing decline of the once mighty West Indies in recent times. The Bellerive Oval here in Hobart, one of international cricket's most welcoming venues, was added to the list on the first day of the second Test yesterday.
Presented with a flat, grassless pitch and a crystal clear day, the West Indies folded, as they have done of late on so many points of the compass, to be all out for 149.
Thrashed by 379 runs in the first Test in Brisbane, their capitulation exposed them to another heavy defeat and they spent the remaining 19 overs of the day in the fruitless search of an Australian wicket. It never came as the left-handers Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey helped themselves to 60.
This is the seventh Test in the capital of Australia's island state and the West Indies' first. As in Brisbane, they had no answer to opponents who have swiftly and predictably regained the intimidating confidence shaken by their defeat in the summer Ashes series. They could not even exploit Shane Warne's back stiffness that made him a doubtful starter and reduced Test cricket's highest wicket-taker to an ordinary trundler who went for 48 from 11 wicketless overs.
For an hour and a half in mid-afternoon, a stand of 59 between the left-handers Chris Gayle and captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul raised hopes of a recovery from the insecurity of 60 for 3 when Brian Lara was lbw for 13 to Brett Lee.
Once they fell in successive overs, Chanderpaul taken at short-leg off leg-spinner Stuart MacGill and Gayle harshly adjudged lbw to Glenn McGrath, the West Indies went into freefall as the last seven wickets tumbled for 30. Gayle top-scored with 53 that included two sixes off Warne. It was a courageous effort for the tall opener was forced to retire after 11 overs from a heart condition that has troubled him since he was a teenager and will require minor surgery at the end of the series.
The wickets were shared by Lee, who claimed 3 for 32, McGrath, who had 4 for 31 from 23 typically metronomic overs, and MacGill, included in the XI as the second leg-spinner to Warne in the expectation of a worn surface over the past two days, who took 3 for 18.Reuse content