Activate discovery+Sep 23
England’s extraordinary victory over Pakistan gripped the cricketing world, but Australia also put down a marker with an impressive win over the West Indies in their first Test of the summer.
Some 5,300 miles southeast of Rawalpindi, the scene of one of England’s all-time great overseas wins under the pioneering Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, Australia beat a resolute West Indies by 164 runs in Perth.
The build-up was clouded by the latest outburst by Justin Langer, who suggested some of his former players were “cowards” for complaining about him in the media.
Captain Pat Cummins responded by insisting that there were no distractions and so it proved as Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith struck magnificent double-hundreds to power Australia to a commanding first-innings total of 598-4 declared.
Their bowlers met some resistance in the form of debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul, the son of legendary batter Shivnarine, and opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite, before limiting Phil Simmons' side to 333 all out, with Mitchell Starc and Cummins each taking three wickets.
The hosts pressed home their advantage in the second innings, with Labuschagne becoming the eighth man in history and third Australian man to score a double-century and century in the same Test.
The declaration came soon after he reached the milestone, with Australia setting the West Indies a record 498 for an unlikely victory. The tourists began the final day on 192-3, needing a further 306 for their first win on Australian soil since 1997.
We’ve got five Tests and I want to make sure I’m available for all five
- Pat Cummins
Brathwaite and Chanderpaul again applied themselves, with the debutant digging in and the captain scoring his 11th Test century before he was bowled by Lyon for 110. His dismissal was the beginning of the end for a spirited West Indies, who lost their last five wickets for 121 runs, with Lyon finishing with figures of 6-128.
The spinner took his 443rd Test wicket on the final day to move past Ravichandran Ashwin into eighth in the all-time Tesy wicket-taking list. He is also one wicket away from overtaking Shane Warne to become the most successful bowler at the Adelaide Oval.
The Windies have notable wins over England and Bangladesh to their name this year, but were comfortably beaten by an Australia side top of Test Team Rankings and World Test Championship standings.
The only setback for the hosts, who are set to welcome South Africa for a three-Test series starting later this month, was the quad strain that sidelined Cummins for the fourth innings as they pushed for victory.
Former captain Steve Smith led the team in his absence and Ashes hero Scott Boland took his place as a substitute fielder.
“It’s just a small strain so normally about a one-weeker,” said Cummins. “If you bowl, you [can] make it worse and can make it [a] longer [recovery]. I’ll spend the next few days rehabbing getting it right and I think it's a pretty good chance I’ll be good for Adelaide.
“We’ve got five Tests [taking into account the West Indies and South Africa Test series] and I want to make sure I’m available for all five. It’s always like that. But [after] a lot of the Test matches, you leave with absolutely nothing left in the tank.”
Australia have bolstered their pace-bowling options by calling up Lance Morris and Michael Neser for the second Test in Adelaide, the final Test of the series.
Morris burst onto the scene in a tour game against England at the WACA five years ago and has developed into one the quickest bowlers in Australia, regularly hitting 90mph for Western Australia.
The 24-year-old has had a strong Sheffield Shield season, where he is the leading wicket-taker, and his emergence is testament to the depth of fast bowlers in Australia.
Neser has also been drafted in after a successful start to the domestic season, where he has picked up 24 wickets at 14.50 in five matches for Queensland. His only Test cap came in the second Ashes match against England in Adelaide last December when he replaced Cummins.
Boland remains the most likely to deputise if Cummins misses out, with the cult hero in the frame to resume his international career after averaging 9.55 with the ball in the final three Ashes Tests.
The West Indies are assessing the fitness of several players ahead of the day-night Test, with concerns over Kemar Roach, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers and Jayden Seales.
Anderson Phillip and the uncapped Marquino Mindley are ready to step in as they look to strengthen an attack that took only six wickets in Perth.
We are playing the best team in the world
- Roddy Estwick
Speaking ahead of the second Test, assistant coach Roddy Estwick said: “You are playing the best side in the world, no doubt about that.
“You can’t go gung-ho. I know everyone has seen how England are playing and think that’s the way to go. Well, that’s the way they want to go, fine by them, but with us, we know we have to be as patient as possible.
“We are playing the best team in the world, and we just want to grind and fight and stay in the fight as long as possible. We did that [in Perth] - we want to go one step further. It’s all about improving, learning and getting better. You’ve just got to keep fighting and scrapping with the Australians.”
Australia move to Adelaide looking to complete a series whitewash ahead of South Africa and an Ashes series in England next summer that is looking increasingly tantalising.
Watch the second Test between Australia and the West Indies from 4am on Thursday 8 December, exclusively live on BT Sport 1.