Cricket: 5 Things We Learned from the Australia vs. West Indies Series
After claiming the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series title with victories over Sri Lanka and India, Australia went to the West Indies on a high and expecting another trophy.
What they got was much more than they expected, as a resurgent West Indies outfit put up a spirited fight throughout all five matches—with the series finishing as a 2-2 draw.
And whilst the Twenty20 matches still continue between the two nations in the Caribbean, five key lessons stand out from the one-day series—lessons to keep in mind for the remainder of the cricket season.
1. West Indies Cricket Is Still Strong
Photo via AP.
Australia were expected to win and win easily in this series.
They weren't expected to be pushed, and they certainly weren't expected to lose two games and draw a third.
Australia dominated India all summer and then outplayed Sri Lanka in the tri-series, and considering that both of those sides are statistically better than the West Indies, it seemed like a formality.
Yet after the first four matches, Australia only had a single win to their name.
They'd chalked up losses by five wickets and another by 42 runs, and were incredibly fortunate to walk away with a draw in the third match.
West Indies are not the new powerhouse of one-day international cricket, but they are certainly stronger than many, including myself, gave them credit for.
2. Australian Batting Lineup Is Still Fragile
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After taking it to the Indian bowling attack all summer, the Australian batting lineup was starting to regain some its dominance again.
Long gone are the likes of Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist. But the currently batting core seemed to be heading back in the right direction with some convincing knocks.
Not quite so fast it seems.
No Australian batsman made a hundred; only six managed to get past 50 runs.
Their averages sit in the mid-to-low 30's as opposed to the mid-to-high 40's, and above that we saw throughout the Australian summer.
Mike Hussey led the side with a barely respectable 174 runs for the series at an average of 34.8—five other batsman cracked the 100 mark.
The batting lineup of the Australians was definitely exposed throughout the series, and shown for exactly what it is—strong at times yet inconsistent, and susceptible to strong bowling.
3. Keiran Pollard Is One of the Most Explosive Players in the Game
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Throughout the entire series, Keiran Pollard rightly justified himself as one of the most explosive players in the game with his 102 off just 70 balls for what was perhaps the highlight of the tournament.
Ranked 33rd in one-day international batsmen at just 25 years old, Pollard has a bright future as he dominates in the West Indian batting lineup.
He amassed over 200 runs for the series, finishing with an average of 55.50 and a strike rate of 98.66.
In fact, his 16 sixes for the tournament was the same as the entire Australian side put together.
This was an incredible performance from one of the brightest prospects in the sport.
4. West Indian Bowling Still Ranks Strong
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It was evident throughout the series that despite players like Keiran Pollard, the real strength of the West Indies lies in their bowling—as it always has.
With a history that includes the names like Joel Garner, Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, it's easy to suggest that the current crop of bowlers has nothing compared to their predecessors.
Yet, throughout the series, they showed just how ominous they can be.
They restricted Australia to 220 or less in the first three matches, and only allowed one score of 260-plus throughout the entire series—in their fifth and final match.
Fast bowler Kemar Roach and spinner Sunil Narine both took 11 wickets for the series and finished with averages of 20.45 and 14.45, respectively.
With all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels chiming in throughout the series as well, the West Indian bowling ranks are still strong and intimidating.
5. Indian Cricket Truly Is Struggling
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Perhaps an interesting note to finish on, but at the end of this series, it is clear that Indian cricket is truly poor at the moment.
After Australia (and Sri Lanka) wiped the floor with them throughout the summer, it appeared that it was more of a case of Australia being too strong rather than India being too weak.
Yet when the West Indies rolled Australia more than once and pushed them the entire series, the real truth came to the fore—Australia are not invincible or even that good.
India are simply that bad.
It will be interesting to see how they go against one of the best sides in South Africa when they meet later in the month to determine whether or not India are at the same level as other nations around the world.
According to the current ICC rankings, Australia are the best one-day team in the world; South Africa the second best and India the third.
But after watching the eighth ranked West Indies match with Australia, maybe Indian cricket isn't that strong after all.
For that, only time will tell.