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Wisden Almanack 2023

Australia v West Indies in 2022/23 – Almanack report

Australia West Indies Frank Worrell Trophy Test series 2022/23 Adelaide Perth
by Lewis Cameron 15 minute read

The West Indies toured Australia in 2022/23 for two Test matches, a series Australia swept 2-0 to retain the Frank Worrell Trophy. Lewis Cameron’s report originally appeared in the 2023 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

Test matches (2): Australia 2 (24pts), West Indies 0 (0pts)

In the end, the most trouble the Australians had getting their hands on the Frank Worrell Trophy came at the pre-series photoshoot. The ground staff in Perth needed bolt cutters to open the padlock on the case it had been enclosed in since it had last been contested, in 2015/16; nobody could remember the combination. The cricket that followed did little to disprove the notion that this was a forgotten rivalry.

Two uncompetitive Tests highlighted the vast disparity between the sides. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne scored more runs than the entire West Indian top seven, while Nathan Lyon took 12 wickets, one fewer than the combined total of the visitors’ recognised bowlers, four of whom went down with injuries. And when Marquino Mindley was flown in for the second Test at Adelaide, he managed only two overs before pinging a hamstring. Struggling to get 11 on the park, the West Indians put in an emergency call to Melbourne, where the Barbadian Omar Phillips – who had played two Tests 13 years earlier – was in the middle of a season of club cricket. The only shining lights for the visitors were captain Kraigg Brathwaite, who posted a century in Perth, and his new opening partner, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, whose stance was eerily reminiscent of his father, Shivnarine. Caribbean cricket fans will be praying he proves even half as effective.


For Pat Cummins’s self-assured team, the biggest obstacles were of their own making. There was more focus on how players would handle the reappearance of the coach they had deposed earlier in the year – Justin Langer, in his new guise as a TV commentator – than how they would handle a side that hadn’t won a Test in Australia since 1996/97. Langer, in the lead-up to the first Test in his home city of Perth since before the Covid-19 pandemic, had labelled those who leaked against him as cowards. Yet he maintained a wide grin as he hugged his former charges before play on the first morning.

There was further hoopla on the eve of the pink-ball Test in Adelaide, when David Warner withdrew from – and strongly condemned – a protracted review of the lifetime leadership ban slapped on him after the South African sandpaper scandal. The latest saga proved a distraction for Warner, who failed to join in the run-fest.

The 2-0 scoreline was a repeat of West Indies’ previous visit, seven years earlier – though that was a three-Test series. They had not been defeated in five Tests earlier in 2022, but this was a shellacking. It followed their flop in the T20s against Australia six weeks earlier, then the embarrassment of elimination in the first round of the T20 World Cup. Their displays Down Under rang alarm bells about declining standards – not least for Cricket Australia, who were supposed to be hosting West Indies for more Tests early in 2024.

West Indies touring party: KC Brathwaite (c), J Blackwood, NE Bonner, SSJ Brooks, T Chanderpaul, RL Chase, JM Da Silva, JO Holder, AS Joseph, KR Mayers, MJ Mindley, A Phillip, RA Reifer, KAJ Roach, JNT Seales, DC Thomas. Coach: PV Simmons. After several injuries, Mindley was called up for the second Test, and OJ Phillips was recruited as an emergency fielder.

At Canberra, November 23–26, 2022. Drawn. Australian Prime Minister’s XI 322 (91.5 overs) (MT Renshaw 81, MS Harris 73, PSP Handscomb 55; AS Joseph 4-65) and 221-4 dec (70 overs) (MT Renshaw 101*, PSP Handscomb 75); West Indians 235 (92.3 overs) (T Chanderpaul 119) and 277-8 (106.5 overs) (T Chanderpaul 56, DC Thomas 55, JM Da Silva 52*). Set 309 in 107 overs, the West Indians escaped with a draw against what amounted to an Australia A side, with their ninth-wicket pair, Joshua Da Silva and Raymon Reifer (0* from 26 balls), surviving the last 55 deliveries. Tagenarine Chanderpaul ensured a Test debut with 119 and 56, facing 431 deliveries in all. In the first innings, he put on 94 with fellow opener Kraigg Brathwaite (47), but no one else passed 25. Matt Renshaw put on 134 for the first wicket with Marcus Harris in the PM’s XI first innings, and 145 for the third with Peter Handscomb in the second.

First Test at Perth Stadium, November 30-December 4, 2022: Australia won by 164 runs

Australia 12pts. Toss: Australia. Test debut: T Chanderpaul.

There was a time when Australian teams journeyed to the far edge of their continent for Tests against West Indies and dreaded what awaited them. For more than 20 years from the mid-1970s, West Indies didn’t just beat their hosts in Perth, they crushed them. If Pat Cummins’s men held fears their opponents could be stirred by that imposing record, the sight of Mayers bowling wobbly 75mph medium-pacers in the opening session across the Swan River at the new Perth Stadium would surely have allayed them. Curtly Ambrose he was not.

Yet Mayers was one of the few bowling successes, nibbling out Khawaja, shortly after lunch on the first day, for 65. The frontline attack were ineffective: Warner had chopped Seales on in the fourth over, but the four main pacemen took only one more wicket, as Labuschagne and Smith both helped themselves to double-centuries. The injury list grew: Seales had a knee problem, and Roach a dodgy hamstring, while Joseph failed to crank up his pace until the second innings, by which time the game was out of reach. At least the nude off-breaks of Brathwaite, West Indies’ captain, winkled out Labuschagne and Head. Cummins had held off declaring to allow Smith – who equalled Don Bradman’s tally of 29 Test centuries – to reach 200 for the first time since the 2019 Ashes. He also wanted Head to post a century in the first Test of the home summer for the second year running; but, the ball after Smith celebrated, Head played on for 99.

The visiting bowlers’ struggles were only magnified by the class of their Australian counterparts. Starting the pursuit of 598-4, Brathwaite and the debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul weathered the new ball with an opening stand of 78. But Cummins eventually removed his opposite number for 64 with a top-of-off-stump peach, to set in chain a trickle of casualties that saw the remaining wickets melt away for 124. The scalp of Brathwaite was Cummins’s 200th, meaning Australia now had the first bowling group in Test history boasting four men with so many. The addition of the tall, pacy Green, who hit Bonner on the helmet with a short ball and later dismissed his concussion replacement, Brooks, gave them arguably their most threatening attack since the days of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

Although they led by 315, Australia still had work to do to win on a placid drop-in surface, and they waived the follow-on. Labuschagne’s reaction to being caught behind in the first innings had been as if he was out for four, not 204 – and his sense that there were more runs to be had was accurate. He added an unbeaten 104 from just 110 balls, as Australia zoomed to 182-2 in 37 overs. In the first innings, Smith had gone stride for stride with him in a stand of 251; in the second, they put on another 81, with Smith taking his match haul to 220 without being dismissed. Green, at No. 6, did not face a ball in the Test.

Even though Cummins did not bowl because of a quad injury, neither West Indies’ victory target of 498 nor the five sessions of batting required to force a draw ever looked achievable. The openers, though, again showed fight: Chanderpaul backed up his promising first-innings 51, full of daring cuts and pulls, with a more sedate 45, while Brathwaite pushed on to his 11th Test hundred in typically remorseless fashion. At first, he countered the increasing threat of Lyon well, but eventually became one of his six victims in a masterclass of off-spin bowling. Aided by superb catches from Smith and Starc, Lyon’s bounce – the Perth weapon once expertly exploited by West Indian quick bowlers – proved too much for the visitors’ batsmen to handle, and Australia surged to a resounding win.

Player of the Match: M Labuschagne. Attendance: 74,598.

Second Test at Adelaide Oval, December 8-11, 2022 (D/N): Australia won by 419 runs

Australia 12pts. Toss: Australia. Test debuts: MJ Mindley, DC Thomas.

For Australia, this pink-ball Test began in a strangely similar way to their previous one, against England late in 2021. With Cummins and Hazlewood both missing, two fresh bowlers were required, while Smith again filled in as captain. Cummins had missed the Ashes Test thanks to strict Covid rules after a close encounter in an Adelaide restaurant, and this time had pulled a quad muscle; Hazlewood had another side strain. Smith, it seemed, now only captained after midday – possibly a good thing, given he struggles to sleep during Tests.

The home side’s dramas – which included a salvo from David Warner at Cricket Australia over his lifetime leadership ban – at least took place before the match. For West Indies, it was a shambles from go to woe. Five of the original squad of 15 were injured, then the Jamaican quick bowler Marquino Mindley, who had arrived less than 48 hours before the match after a marathon trip from the Caribbean, tweaked a hamstring after sending down 12 balls. An SOS for a twelfth man went out to Omar Phillips, a 36-year-old Barbados batsman who had won two Test caps during a contract dispute in 2009, and was playing club cricket in Melbourne.

Brathwaite used six bowlers to deliver the first 19 overs of the match. A seventh, reserve wicketkeeper Devon Thomas, finished with the best figures, as Australia cruised to 511-7. Not even the loss of Smith for a duck made much dent in the charge. Labuschagne was again irresistible, with a third century in three innings, while Head’s increasing confidence in his aggressive approach paid off. He made up for his Perth 99 by reaching three figures from 125 balls, and ended with 175 from 219. The rousing ovation he received from his home crowd could have been topped only by a maiden double-century, but that was scuppered by a mix-up with the scratchy Green, who Head clearly believed was at fault for his run-out. He stomped off, and Smith called a halt an hour later, at sunset on the second day.

The make-up of the Australian attack might have changed from Perth, but they still proved too hot to handle. Neser, who had made his debut against England here the previous year, swiftly nipped out Brathwaite and Brooks under the lights. Chanderpaul again showed up his more experienced team-mates by fighting through to stumps, and to the verge of a second half-century in his second Test. But both he and nightwatchman Phillip – the next-highest scorer, with 43 – fell to senseless run-outs the following day as West Indies crumbled for 214. Not even a lead approaching 300 could tempt Smith to enforce the follow-on, so once more Australia enjoyed a pressure-free third innings. They rattled along at more than six an over, with Head cheering himself up by biffing a couple of sixes off Phillip.

Once again, they timed their declaration so they were bowling at night, when the pink ball – anecdotally anyway, if not statistically – is supposed to deviate the most. Boland stirred memories of his eye-opening Ashes debut, as Brathwaite, Brooks and Blackwood all fell in his first over, a triple-wicket maiden. A mesmerised Adelaide Oval surged into full voice, louder even than for Head’s hundred.

Four down before stumps on the third day, West Indies could not even hold on until the first break on the fourth. Wicketkeeper Carey pouched a pair of handsome catches standing up to the not-so-slow Neser, as West Indies limped to 77 all out, confirming the hosts’ 2-0 series sweep and maximum World Test Championship points. Since 1928-29, there had been only one bigger victory by runs in a Test in Australia, when Pakistan were demolished by 491 at the WACA in December 2004. It meant Australia had played 11 day/night Tests, against seven teams – and won them all.

Player of the Match: TM Head.
Player of the Series: M Labuschagne.

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