Match Preview – Australia vs West Indies, West Indies in Australia 2022/23, 1st Test

Big Picture

For the first time in nearly seven years, two sides with a great history meet in Test cricket. That history has been sadly one-sided for a long time, but this is an overdue meeting for Australia and West Indies.

The last time West Indies won a Test on these shores was back in 1997 in Perth – the WACA version – when Brian Lara scored a century, and Curtly Ambrose got one to roll along the deck to Greg Blewett from one of the infamous cracks. West Indies’ last Test victory against Australia was in 2003, when they chased a world record 418 in Antigua.
West Indies could field four players in their XI who were part of the side that played a damp affair from the two teams’ last meeting, which was in Sydney in early 2016: Kraigg Brathwaite, now the captain; his predecessor Jason Holder; Jermaine Blackwood, and Kemar Roach. But for most, this will be a new experience. And that may not be a bad thing.
Few give them a chance in this series – and it would be a surprise if it was anything other than 2-0 to Australia – but West Indies’ Test cricket has shown improvement, albeit mostly at home. However, revivals have to start somewhere. It may sound defeatist, but if they can compete in these two matches, it could provide more building blocks for the future. Their pace attack has the potential to cause problems; it will likely come down to whether they can put enough runs on the board to apply some pressure.
Even though Australia lost their most recent Test – against Sri Lanka in Galle – they are in good shape in the format, as witnessed by the XI being entirely predictable. They are in a very strong position to reach the World Test Championship final – but be careful of those over rates – and a summer of victories will further strengthen their cause.
This will be Perth’s first Test since the 2019-20 season when they hosted New Zealand in a day-night game, and it is just the second match at the venue with India having played the year before in an absorbing contest on a spicy pitch. It would be nice to think both those things can be repeated this time.

(Last five matches, most recent first)

Australia: LWWDD
West Indies: WWWDD

In the spotlight

Steven Smith has found his hands, feet, stance, grip…everything sounds as though it is working perfectly for him, as good as it has been since around 2016. It is a scary prospect for opposition bowlers because Smith has still averaged 61 in Tests since then, albeit the last couple of years have been more of a struggle. The signs were promising in the ODIs against England but he may have to be on his guard on a lively Perth pitch. Still, it feels like it could be a summer of runs for Smith.

The surname will be familiar. The stance may bring back memories. A few of the shots, too. And he marks his guard with the bail. But Tagenarine Chanderpaul wants to be his own man. At 26, he has had to bide his time for a Test debut, but this year his weight of runs have made an unquestionable case. Chanderpaul backed that up with a terrific double of 119 and 56 against Prime Minister’s XI in the pratice match. Australia’s bowling attack will be another level of the challenge, but he looks to have the game.

Team news

This XI, confirmed by Australia, could have been picked weeks ago: Josh Hazlewood returns to the side, having missed the last four Tests due to requirements as per conditions in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and four Ashes Tests because of injury before that. Scott Boland will have to wait to build on his bowling average of 9.55.

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Brathwaite confirmed that Chanderpaul would make his debut and that Raymon Reifer was ruled out through injury. Beyond that, West Indies will name their side tomorrow. But the good news was that Blackwood and Jayden Seales were fine after brief scares during training on Monday. The likelihood is four quicks supported by Roston Chase’s offspin.

West Indies (possible): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), 2 Tagnarine Chanderpaul, 3 Nkrumah Bonner, 4 Kyle Mayers, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Joshua Da Silva (wk), 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Jayden Seales

Pitch and conditions

Perth. Hot. Pace. Bounce. Cracks. We’ll get some of that for sure, the first day is set to be 35 degrees, and there is a chance for all of them. The pitches for the T20 World Cup had plenty of life – the India vs South Africa contest was perhaps the best indicator, given the bowling attacks on display – although it is not quite as early in the season now. On the eve of the match, the curator said he had left 12mm of grass on the surface although that may get a trim before the toss. It is also worth noting Nathan Lyon’s excellent record at the Optus Stadium, where he has taken 14 wickets at 15.50 in two matches.

  • A few of the West Indies players who were part of the 1997 win in Perth will be at this game: Phil Simmons is in his last series as coach, while Ian Bishop and Brian Lara will be commentators. Carl Hooper is also involved in Australian cricket this season as an assistant coach with Adelaide Strikers.
  • Quotes

    “I feel like there’s so many good things going on at the moment, especially this Test team [being] No.1 in the world. It’s disappointing sometimes the focus gets drawn to off-field issues, but it hasn’t really affected our team.”
    Australia captain Pat Cummins tries to drag attention back to the cricket after distractions off the field

    “Our long-form cricket has really developed. It’s really good signs to see a lot of our players actually developing at the rate we want them to develop. This is not going to be an easy tour. But…this is a tour that a lot of people make their name.”
    Jason Holder on positive signs for West Indies

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