Warner’s ton, Smith’s approach end series
SYDNEY –– David Warner’s sparkling century lit up the fifth day as the rain-affected third Test between Australia and West Indies in Sydney ended in a predictable draw today.
After just 86.2 overs were possible on the opening four days, there was no chance of a result, but Warner enjoyed himself, hitting an 82-ball ton –– the fastest Test century at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The left-hander finished 122 not out as the bails were removed with Australia on 176 for 2 in their first innings in response to West Indies’ 303.
The weather, which saw a further delay to play on day five, removed any chance the hosts had of earning a whitewash in the three-match series and they miss out on topping the ICC Test rankings as a result.
After play had started almost two hours late, Australia needed just over an hour to bring Windies’ first innings to a close.
Resuming on 248 for 7, Denesh Ramdin was able to reach his second 50 of the series before the spin duo of Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe saw off the tail.
Lyon finished with figures of 3 for 120 while O’Keefe posted a Test-best of 3 for 63.
With just two sessions to bat, Warner was intent on making hay and was quick out of the traps, peppering the boundary all around the wicket.
He brought his 50 up off just 42 balls with a six off Jomel Warrican –– the 16th time he posted a run-a-ball or better half-century.
He put on 101 for the opening stand with Joe Burns before the latter fell for 26, chipping Warrican to mid-on.
Australia shuffled their batting line-up, sending in Mitch Marsh at No 3, but it was Warner who stole the show.
He brought up a 16th Test century off 82 balls when he swept Warrican for three, with no other batsman reaching three figures faster than him at the SCG.
Marsh departed for 21 with the game in its final throes as he was caught by Blackwood off Warrican to leave the hosts 154 for 2, with the game brought to an early end not long after with Warner unbeaten on 122.
Australia captain Steve Smith later revealed the West Indies turned down his offer of a last-day run chase.
Smith said he approached his opposite number Jason Holder with an offer to declare their first innings at 0-0 and then allow the tourists to build a 370-run lead, at which point they would declare and give Australia 70 overs to chase down the target.
But the deal was rejected by Holder.
“There was an approach,” said Smith. “Unfortunately they didn’t come to the party, I offered him [Holder] 370 runs in 70 overs, which I thought was pretty generous.
“It would take some good batting to get that on a day five SCG wicket but they weren’t up for the challenge unfortunately.
“They would have had to declare this morning, I would have declared 0-0 and then bowled lob-ups for seven or eight overs or whatever it was, 370 off 70. I offered but they weren’t willing to take it.
“We want to try and win every game we play and today was a perfect opportunity to set the game up for a good chase and for the fans who stayed out this afternoon.”
Smith said he had checked out the legalities of the move with coach Darren Lehmann.
“Yeah, I spoke to Boof [Lehmann] who read through the rules and said you are allowed to do that kind of thing. That was on our cards today and unfortunately they didn’t come to the party,” he said.
Holder confirmed the approach by Smith but said the West Indies, whose 330 was their highest total of the series, were not keen to take up the offer.
“He came to us and made an offer, I just went back to the team and we thought at this stage of our development it wasn’t the best thing for us,” Holder said.
However, despite Smith’s contention of checking the legitimacy of the proposal with Lehmann, questions have been raised in some quarters as to whether his approach to Holder –– well-meaning as it might have been intended –– could not be construed as attempting to fix the result of a match heading to a certain draw.