Australia retained the Frank Worrell Trophy 2-0 in complete style at Adelaide Oval, beating West Indies for 77 before the evening of day four arrived. It was the lowest score for which the West Indies had been dismissed in Australia, with the tourists conceding the second Test by 419 runs. After at least showing good resilience with bat in Perth, there was no repeat in Adelaide even with two of Australia’s first-choice bowlers missing.
That bench strength was the most impressive part of the win, with something for everyone on the Australian side. Scott Boland had already had his signature Boland moment the night before, knocking out three West Indian batters in the space of an over before Mitchell Starc added another. Resuming day four at 38 for four, still 459 points behind, the visiting team had nowhere to hide. It was just a matter of how long they could fight.
Starc was the first to find success, luring Devon Thomas into a drive with the left arm angle on the right-hander. The edge was taken safely behind, Thomas out for 11. There was no batting error to blame for the second wicket, however, with Starc’s signature pace and move tucking it into Jason Holder on the 12 and through his defense to hit the top of the center stump. . It was purely Starc doing what he did so well, as he extended his world record with the pink ball to 61 wickets to 18.16 runs, taking less than six overs for each.
West Indies wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva and all-rounder Roston Chase tried to apply, seeing Starc and batting through 10 overs to pass the drinks break. But it was then the turn of Michael Neser, thanks to the good reflection of Alex Carey. With Chase flying out of his crease to counter Neser’s bowling style, Carey opted to keep the wicket at the stumps. Neser isn’t the fastest bowler, but at consistently above 130 km/h, it was no small challenge.
With Chase having to revise his approach, he crossed the line of a ball and rammed it hard into Carey’s shoulder, with the Australian keeper somehow adjusting his body position to deflect the ball towards the middle of his chest where he was able to catch it with a glove. Choosing to stay on the stumps, Carey added another nice hold in the same over after da Silva pushed the ball in to provide a more conventional outside edge. Chase was out for 13, da Silva 15, West Indies 76 for eight.
The Carey-Neser tie claimed a third wicket to end the game, with Carey holding back this time as injured No.11 Marquino Mindley edged in the back foot. In the meantime though, Nathan Lyon had his moment, with the spinner adding a career 450 wickets for Australia in the Tests. The manner was emblematic of West Indies surrender, with Alzarri Joseph charging in and aiming a huge shot at a ball that spun hard and spun sharply past his inside to knock him down. But it was another minor milestone for Lyon as they head towards 500 wickets and possibly a whole lot more.
Barely 35, Lyon have played Australia’s last 90 Test matches in a row. He could add 14 more by the end of next July if health permits, and based on the evidence of the past two weeks, he is playing as well as ever. The upcoming tour of India will present its own challenges, but Lyon have already found ways to succeed on these shores and are well placed for another attempt. Should be fun to watch when it happens.
Duty one ticked for Australia. The current West Indies team was not expected to have the quality to challenge in these conditions, but it is important to have a team firing ahead of the upcoming South African series. There are currently no question marks over the national team’s top 11 spots, nor in the reserve ranks. Patrick Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will almost certainly return at the earliest opportunity, while Starc may benefit from a break at some point but won’t want one unless fitness insists. For all of them, attention now turns to Brisbane for South Africa’s first Test from Friday.