Australia will start the three-match test series against the West Indies at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown on March 30
Amazingly, only Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson and Michael Hussey remain from the last tour of the Windies in 2008, showing the inexperience of the squad. With Brad Haddin’s late withdrawal, Matthew Wade will debut as the gloveman in the First Test in Barbados. This group will include many fresh faces, including uncapped players Peter Forrest and Peter Nevill. A further four players will be going on their first overseas tour as part of the Australian Test squad.
The X Factor
Watson’s recent inclusion back into the team will allow for flexibility with his ability to bat just about anywhere. At three, his form with the willow will be pivotal to Australia’s success. Furthermore, his role as the fourth seambowler will bring a different element to the Caribbean’s flat, lifeless wickets. His stump-to-stump discipline as well as his ability to reverse swing the old ball will go a long way to Australia taking twenty wickets.
A team that has shown little stability, the Windies will have a largely unknown squad to most Australian fans. Kemar Roach, the exciting quick that had Ponting ducking and weaving will be spearheading the attack, whilst Adrian Barath and skipper Darren Sammy should also be familiar faces. Furthermore, veteran batsman Marlon Samuels who last played Australia in 2003 is also set to play having recently made a return to the Test arena.
Ones we’ll see again
For the Windies, players to look out for will be batsmen Kirk Edwards and Kraigg Braithwaite. Edwards announced himself to the cricketing world with a rearguard century against India, whilst Braithwaite made his debut at just 18 years of age, showing the ability to both opening the batting or play in the early middle order. Both add stability to an ever-changing top order.
The key battle this series will be between the West Indies quicks and the Australian top order. With Ed Cowan and David Warner on their first overseas tours, they may be susceptible in unfamiliar conditions. If the Windies can remove them cheaply and get into the middle order early, they give themselves the best opportunity to bowl Australia out twice. However, if they can see off the new ball, the small Caribbean grounds should mean plenty of runs for the in-form middle order of Ponting, Hussey and Clarke.
So with much expectation, we await the fourth Test series in less than six months for the Australian side. The Caribbean was once the most terrifying place to tour in world cricket. Yet today, the West Indies sit seventh overall on the ICC Test Rankings. A series tighter than most will anticipate, Australia will have to work hard on the uncharacteristically slow, dead pitches. Michael Clarke’s men will look to continue their rich vain of form, whereas the Windies will look to win their first series against Australia in over a decade.
Kevin Cheong is a 2nd year Bachelor of Journalism Student at La Trobe. You can follow him on Twitter @cheongas