In the cricket world, March 1994 seems like an epoch ago. Cricinfo was only a year old. Cigarette sponsorship was still a thing. West Indies remained a dominant force, with Desmond Haynes, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Richie Richardson and Brian Lara all in the line-up. It was the month of Allan Border’s last Test, and of Kapil Dev’s as well.
Three players made their Test debuts in March 1994, all left-handers who would enjoy long and decorated careers: Matthew Hayden, Stephen Fleming and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Fleming lasted until 2008, Hayden until 2009. Chanderpaul kept going, and going, and going. And now he’s gone, dumped by the selectors at the age of 40. For the first time in in 21 years, West Indian fans must consider a Chanderpaul-less future.
And their first engagement of that future is against Australia, a team West Indies have not beaten in a Test for 12 years, and in a series for 23 years. Since then, the Frank Worrell Trophy has been tightly held by Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, and Clarke will expect his men to be able to retain it during their two-Test battle in Dominica and Jamaica.
Australia will certainly be glad to see a Shiv-shaped hole in their opponents’ batting order: in nine home Tests against Australia, Chanderpaul made five centuries and averaged 80.38. But, as Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood showed in the recent series against England, there are things to like about the young West Indies batsmen coming through.
Australia will hope not to be too rusty after a couple of months away from international cricket, and having not played a Test since January. They will be without Chris Rogers, who will be rested after being struck on the helmet at training, and that will necessitate some juggling of the batting order. There is also a question over the make-up of their attack, with Fawad Ahmed a chance of making his debut if the pitch looks like it will suit two spinners.
(last five matches, most recent first)
West Indies WLDLD
In the spotlight
The leading West Indian run scorer in their recent series against England, Jermaine Blackwood will hope to continue his form against the Australians. A talented middle-order batsman who was key to West Indies winning the Barbados Test and thus drawing the England series, Blackwood faces the challenge of being the go-to man in a lower middle order now without the experience of Chanderpaul.
Australia will likely have one debutant in this Test, and after training on Tuesday it looked certain to be Adam Voges. His is the story of an interminable but ultimately fruitful wait for the opportunity, after he was first called into a Test squad during the 2006-07 Ashes in Australia. Now 35 years old, his time is now.
West Indies have a middle-order place to fill. Shane Dowrich impressed with half-centuries in each innings of the tour match against Australia, and could come in for his debut. They also have the option of two spinners, with Devendra Bishoo in the squad alongside Veerasammy Permaul.
West Indies (possible) 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Shai Hope, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Shane Dowrich, 7 Denesh Ramdin (capt & wk), 8 Jason Holder, 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Shannon Gabriel, 11 Veerasammy Permaul
Adam Voges shook hands with selectors Mark Waugh and Darren Lehmann at Australia’s final training session and appears sure to debut. Steven Smith has been given the job as Australia’s latest No.3 batsman, while Shaun Marsh will open with David Warner. Mitchell Starc seems likely to be preferred as third quick ahead of a second spinner in Fawad Ahmed.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Adam Voges, 6 Shane Watson, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Lyon, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Pitch and conditions
“It feels like raging turner or green seamer. So, we’ll wait and see what they give us in the middle and then we’ll make a plan from there,” Michael Clarke said two days out from the match. The weather is expected to be fine throughout most of the Test.
Stats and trivia
Since January 1, 2000, West Indies have played 25 Tests without Shivnarine Chanderpaul. They have won just one of them, against Sri Lanka in Kingston in 2003
That was also the same year – 2003 – that West Indies last beat Australia in a Test, with their world-record chase of 418 in Antigua
Steven Smith will be the 13th player to bat at No. 3 for Australia in a Test – including nightwatchmen – since Ricky Ponting last did so in 2011
“We played well in the three Test matches [against England]. We need to improve because it’s Australia – no disrespect to England – and we’re trying to do that as much as possible.””
West Indies coach Phil Simmons