West Indies whitewashed as Australia elevates cricket to new heights

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The Independent Online
Australia has elevated cricket to new heights, concedes West Indies skipper Jimmy Adams, whose own team has slumped to record lows.</p>Australia completed its first ever 5-0 series sweep against the West Indies with a six-wicket win Saturday in the test series finale at the Sydney Cricket Ground.</p>And while Steve Waugh's Aussies were celebrating a 15th consecutive test win, eclipsing the West Indies' previous world-record run of 11, Adams could only hope his players took some lessons from their hosts.</p>Adams' lineup became the first West Indian tourists in more than 70 years and 20 series to lose every test against Australia.</p>Worse still, the West Indies horror stretch over all in away tests now stands at 18 losses in the last 20 tests - under three different captains.</p>Two years after losing a series 5-0 for the first time ever - when Brian Lara was at the helm in the maiden series in South Africa - the West Indies suffered the further ignominy of another whitewash Down Under.</p>The series margin was an accurate reflection of the widening gulf between the team setting the new international benchmark and the team that was regarded as invincible through the 1980s.</p>The West Indies were humiliated in Brisbane and Perth, both tests resulting in innings defeats and finishing inside three days, but improved in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.</p>The loss Saturday was the tourists' seventh in succession, the worst losing stretch in the West Indies' 369-test history.</p>Adams, who was thrust in as skipper last year when Lara quit, is regarded as a gentleman and was an able batsman who averaged more than 60 an innings in his first 25 tests.</p>But as a skipper his efforts have been lamentable and his predicament has reflected in his own batting. The left-hander managed just 151 runs in the current series at an average of 18.87.</p>The West Indies' biggest downfall here and last year in England, where it lost a series to the English for the first time in 31 years, was clearly in its leadership.</p>Adams could become a scapegoat, although he says he hopes to remain skipper for the upcoming tour by South Africa to the West Indies.</p>He has failed to instill in his players the habit of winning, but says the team rallied in the series finale and he believes they'll be a tougher proposition in the next series.</p>Like his predecessors, Courtney Walsh and Lara, Adams could become a victim of a wide-ranging changes awaiting the West Indies on its return home.</p>Caribbean cricket critics can't figure out how the crash of Calypso cricket could have been so dramatic.</p>Adams is equally as baffled by his team's lack of commitment away from home while it has continued to be potent on home soil, where it has only lost one series - to Australia - since 1972.</p>He said the team's failure to cope away from home was a sign of a deeper malaise in West Indies cricket. He said he admired the mental toughness of the Australians, adding that there was no other team like them in the international cricket arena.</p>This series defeat was the West Indies' sixth in as many tours.</p>The once mighty Windies have won just four of their 31 tests since June 1995 and racked up 23 losses against a range of teams including Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa and Pakistan.</p>While Adams has been left to reflect on what went wrong, his counterpart is already looking forward to Australia's next tour to India and the chance to extend its winning sequence.</p>"At some stage we're going to lose a Test match but we're going to have fun trying to keep winning," said Steve Waugh, who scored centuries in the fourth and fifth tests to contribute to Australia's roll.</p>Australia has thrived under Waugh and the shrewd and computer-driven new coach John Buchanan.</p>Not even the great Sir Donald Bradman, an icon in Australia for his unparalleled prowess as a batsman, has a record as skipper to rival the 35-year-old Waugh.</p>His record of 16-3 and two draws from 21 tests - a strike-rate of better than 76 percent - makes him the No. 1 international captain of all time.</p>As ruthless as he is on the field, Waugh had some words of consolation for the young West Indians.</p>He said he'd been trounced by the West Indians as a rookie in the 1980s and never imagined he'd be on the winning end of a series whitewash.</p>"I guess that shows that time changes things," he said. "Who knows, in another 15 years the West Indies might be on top again."</p>