Walsh strikes back

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REPORTS of the imminent demise of West Indies cricket have proved grossly exaggerated. Inspired by the oldest and the most durable fast bowler in Test cricket, Courtney Walsh, the West Indies put the humiliation of their three-day defeat in the First Test immediately behind them, dismissing Australia for an inadequate 216 on a basically true pitch on the opening day of the Second Test here yesterday.

Walsh, now 32, and playing his 72nd Test, turned what seemed to have been the foundations of a formidable Australian total into a terminal collapse with a spell of 3 for 31 from eight overs after lunch.

Before the interval, the captain, Mark Taylor, and Michael Slater had batted with such comfort in adding 82 that the home captain Richie Richardson's decision to give them first use of the pitch seemed as ill-advised as that in the Barbados Test, when he chose to bat first.

Taylor's uncharacteristic hook before the first interval off Curtly Ambrose provided Walsh with a spiralling catch at fine leg - and inspiration. In his first over Walsh removed Slater to a shortleg catch and three balls later claimed Mark Waugh to an edge that was poached by Carl Hooper at second slip.

The breakthrough transformed what had been a bedraggled, undisciplined team in Barbados into the familiar high-fiving tigers that have ensured their remarkable unbeaten sequence in Test series since 1980.

After that no Australian stayed long enough - or, more to the point, was allowed to stay long. Ambrose finally replaced Walsh and Winston Benjamin his namesake. Benjamin's bouncer attracted a top-edged hook from Ian Healy just before tea and Walsh was in the thick of things, again clutching the high catch on the fine leg boundary as Chicki's Disco blared out its calypso behind him.

Walsh returned to finish off the innings with his third spell. He removed the last three wickets, passing Joel Garner and going to third position among West Indian Test wicket takers, behind Malcolm Marshall and Lance Gibbs, with 260.

Left 10 overs to see out the day, the West Indies' openers survived with little difficulty and will expect to build a strong lead on the second day.

(First day; West Indies won toss)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M J Slater c Adams b Walsh 41

*M A Taylor c Walsh b Ambrose 37

D C Boon b Walsh 21

M E Waugh c Hooper b Walsh 4

S R Waugh b K Benjamin 15

G S Blewett c Murray b W Benjamin 11

I A Healy c Walsh b W Benjamin 14

B J Julian b Walsh 22

P R Reiffel not out 22

S K Warne c Arthurton b Walsh 11

G D McGrath c Murray b Walsh 0

Extras (lb12 nb6) 18

Total 175

Fall: 1-82 2-84 3-89 4-126 5-126 6-150 7-168 8-188 9-204.

Bowling: Ambrose 14-5-34-1; Walsh 21.3- 7-54-6; K Benjamin 16-3-58-1; Hooper 2-0-18-0; W Benjamin 15-2-40-2.

WEST INDIES - First Innings

S C Williams not out 8

*R B Richardson not out 0

Extras (lb4 nb2) 6

Total (for 0) 14

To bat: B C Lara, J C Adams, C L Hooper, K L T Arthurton, J R Murray, W K M Benjamin, C E L Ambrose, C L Walsh, K C G Benjamin.

Bowling (to date): Reiffel 3-1-7-0; Julian 4- 3-3-0; Warne 2-2-0-0; McGrath 1-1-0-0.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor (Jamaica), David Shepherd (England). TV replays: Pat White (Antigua).

Match referee: Majid Khan (Pakistan).