The last hurrah
MELBOURNE -†A One-Day International series which started with great expectations for the West Indies, ends tonight with them facing the embarrassment of another whitewash in Australia.
With doubts still lingering over the fitness of Chris Gayle and regional selectors condemning the team to tour with two batsmen short with the inclusion of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Johnson Charles, West Indies need as much motivation and spirit as they can muster.
Enter Tino Best.
The ever ebullient pacer, despite his side being down 0-4, is looking to energise the side with one last burst after bowling in Sydney as fast as he has ever done in his stop-start career. †
He bowled with great pace and caused much discomfort for the Australian batsmen at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night.
He now hopes to bring the same level of intensity and aggression when he suits up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Friday was Best’s first match of the series and he topped the 150 kph speed mark on several occasions. He took the wickets of inform opener Shane Watson and Michael Clarke – both caught behind by keeper Devon Thomas – with sharp lifting deliveries.
“It was my first opportunity of the tour and I was determined to run in and try to bowl as fast as I could. I tried to make life very uncomfortable for the batsmen, to hustle them and make them work. What was more important was that I also looked for wickets, to try to get them under pressure. We were defending 220 – 270 would have been ideal – so we were about 50 runs short. That meant I had to get wickets and in the end I managed to get two,” said Best.
“I felt good out there. The control was quite good. We have talked a lot about having an impact bowler. It was a good opportunity to showcase my talents and skills, on what was a good pitch for batting at the SCG. We were 3-0 down and I felt I looked the part and I’m looking to continue at the MCG.”
Best, who made his debut for West Indies back in 2003, was full of praise for Kieron Pollard, who made 109 not out – his third ODI century for West Indies – and second against Australia. The big right-hander smashed 11 fours and a six to win the Man-of-the-Match award.
“I felt the mature and the skill that Pollard showed was great. He was absolutely fantastic out there, it was not easy but he made the moment count. You could see he is growing as one of the leaders in the team. I hope we can all take a leaf out of his book and show that same determination and guts.”
This is the second trip of Australia for the 31-year-old Best. He was a member of the team which toured in 2005 but on that occasion he did not play an international match. He missed out in the first three ODI and is eagerly looking ahead to the fifth and final match at the historic MCG.
“As a little boy growing up I always wanted to play in Australia. It was a dream for me to be playing and hear the great Richie Benaud calling my name in the commentary box. I always liked the idea of playing at the WACA, but I did not get an opportunity in the first two matches in Perth,” Best said.
“The MCG is also a place I dreamed of playing. It is one of the iconic sporting venues around the world and one of the venues where the West Indies have done well over the years. We are four down but we will have to come out and give than a great fight in this final match and the T20 match in Brisbane.”
Meanwhile Australia are already focused on their India tour with a number of their players to miss this match as they fly out early for the sub-continent.
†Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell have already flown to Chennai and David Warner would have joined them but has stayed back a few days to nurse his broken thumb. Captain Michael Clarke is sidelined by a hamstring injury, and George Bailey could also miss the game. But with the manner in which West Indies have played, the absence of key players does not make staving off a 5-0 defeat any easier. Shane Watson, recently returned to the side following injury, will captain the side.
The game will also have special significance for Dwayne Bravo who needs two more wickets to reach 150 in ODIs.
If he gets there in this game he will be the third-fastest West Indian to the milestone, behind Curtly Ambrose and Malcolm Marshall but ahead of Courtney Walsh.
The match starts at 11.30 p.m.