Waughs douse fiery West Indies

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The Independent Online

West Indies 265

Australia 321-4

The closest pair in international cricket, the Waugh twins, pulled Australia from potential crisis to a match and series-winning position on the second day of the fourth and decisive Test against the West Indies yesterday.

Steve joined Mark a quarter of an hour before lunch with Australia 73 for 3 against hostile fast bowling in reply to the West Indies' 265. They were not separated until just before the close, having added 231, both completing their eight Test centuries.

Mark fell to a short leg catch from off-spinner Carl Hooper for 126, made from 193 balls with 12 fours, while Steve was unbeaten 110, from 208 balls with a six and 11 fours, at the end.

Australia finished 321 for 4 and, if they can survive the second new ball in the morning, they can establish the type of lead on a pitch already showing signs of wear that would give them their first triumph in a series against the West Indies since 1975-76.

When Steve joined Mark Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh had reduced the Australian reply to faltering proportions with characteristically lethal short-pitched attack. With another packed Sabina Park crowd of 18,000 boisterously cheering their every bouncer, they took advantage of the Australians penchant for hooking and were supported by two breathtaking catches.

In the fourth over their captain, Mark Taylor, forced Walsh off his legs from the middle of the bat and stood dumbfounded as Jimmy Adams, no more than three yards away at short leg, grasped the knee-high chance with both hands.

Taylor's partner, the right-handed Michael Slater, is a compulsive hooker and he had umpteen chances to indulge his passion. Several times it might have cost him his wicket and his luck finally ran out when Brian Lara sprinted 15 yards to his right at deep backward square as soon as the stroke was made off Walsh and, at full tilt, held the ball two-handed as he tumbled over.

In between the removal of the two openers, David Boon, quite definitely not a compulsive hooker, somehow lapsed into the stroke against Ambrose and was ruled caught by the new wicketkeeper Courtney Browne. Boon was clearly surprised by umpire Steve Bucknor's decision and television replays hinted the ball might have come off his helmet.

Their exertions in the morning seemed to draw the fire from the West Indies bowlers and, as the ball softened, their continuing tactics of dropping it in short had the effect of offering the Waughs plenty to cut, hook and pull.

(West Indies won the toss)

WEST INDIES - First Innings 265 (R B Richardson 100, B C Lara 65)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

*M A Taylor c Adams b Walsh 8

M J Slater c Lara b Walsh 27

D C Boon c Browne b Ambrose 17

M E Waugh c Adams b Hooper 126

S R Waugh not out 110

G S Blewett not out 6

Extras (nb12 lb4 w1) 17

Total (for 4) 321

Fall: 1-17 2-50 3-73 4-304.

To bat: I A Healy, B P Julian, P R Reiffel, S K Warne, G D McGrath.

Bowling: Ambrose 11-1-48-1 (nb4); Walsh 17-2-65-2 (nb2 w1); K Benjamin 15-0-63-0 (nb12); W Benjamin 13-1-52-0; Hooper 21-4-49-1; Adams 11-0-38- 2 (2nb).

Umpires: S Bucknor (WI), K Liebenberg (SA).