So, what’s it going to be? Do we have a whitewash on our hands? Will it be over in two days? Is it going to be embarrassing? These are the questions that all cricket fans are asking. Do we know what will happen, no. We will have to wait and watch it all unfold starting in Hobart Thursday morning.
So, what do we know? The West Indies have far more ‘X factor’ than we are giving them credit for. They have Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor who bowl fast, very fast. Taylor made some of our batsman really jump around the crease in the recent tour of the West Indies. He swung the ball away from the right-handers at pace taking 6/47 off 25 overs in one innings. They also have Shannon Gibson who by all reports is fast as well, and will no doubt give the batsmen a hurry-up. Along with these three is Jason Holder who is 6’8’’, can hit a length with the ball, bats well in the middle order and is the captain of the team. He will be very important. The Windies are also dealing with a host of their stars being in Australia but who are unavailable for selection as they will be wowing the crowds in the Big Bash League. Along with this they have recently welcomed back their coach who was suspended from the recent tour of Sri Lanka because he spoke out against the selection committee’s decision to not select certain players. Then there is the unavailability of Sunil Narine, one of the world’s most exciting and brilliant spinners who has recently been found to have an action that is illegal. Narine is exciting because he is different, he bowls balls with a flicking type action very similar to a lot of “lounge-room” cricketers who throw mini balls or table tennis balls around inside to impart maximum spin on the ball. He will be a massive loss as he would have created havoc for our batsmen.
The wicket may have an aspect of ‘X Factor’ about it as well. If reports are true, and by looking at some of the photos posted online, there is a fair amount of grass coverage with a green tinge on top. There will certainly be some uncertainty about the toss and whether to bat or bowl first. Therefore whoever performs the better skill with either bat or ball in the first innings on day one will have a major advantage for the remainder of the test.
Am I surprised by the inclusion of Nathan Coulter-Nile? Yes, but only because of a lack of First Class cricket behind him this summer (although, he has played a 4 day Second XI match). All things being even, Coulter-Nile is the obvious choice for the Test team and is very deserving of selection. He oozes ‘X Factor’, bowls fast, takes wickets, is a jet in the field, handy with the bat and has been a standout in Sheffield Shield ranks the last few seasons. He is absolutely deserving of his chance. It has no doubt come a little sooner than most would have thought, however, with the retirement of Mitchell Johnson and then the injury to Mitchell Starc we needed to find the next spearhead and Nathan is the man. I just hope he has enough ‘work under his belt’ to get him through.
It seems as though it may be our strength (batting) versus the Windies strength (bowling) and whoever performs these skills the best may come out on top. With ‘X Factor’ comes unpredictability. There is plenty of this leading in to the series on both accounts, however I am predicting Australia to win quite comfortably but to not have it all go there way at all times!
In parting, a quick congratulations to Nathan Lyon who racks up his 50th Test match for Australia this week. Already Australia’s greatest finger spinner, Nathan is building a career to be incredibly proud of and is known as one of the nicest blokes you would meet in Sport. Well done Nath and may it continue for a long time more!