Pat Cummins celebrates after bowling out Kraigg Brathwaite for 13.
Australia captain Pat Cummins bowls his West Indies counterpart Kraigg Brathwaite in the first Test. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS
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Smith fails but Aussies hold winning hand over Windies

Steve Larkin January 17, 2024

Steve Smith’s opening punt failed but Pat Cummins’ rare gamble paid off to gift Australia a winning hand against the West Indies on day one of the first Test.

Cummins made a shock call to bowl first after winning the toss at Adelaide Oval and he and milestone-man Josh Hazlewood took four wickets each to bowl the tourists out for 188.

Smith made just 12 in his first dig as a Test opener as Australia  reached 2-59 at stumps on Wednesday’s opening day of the two-Test series.

steve smith
 Steve Smith’s debut as Test opener didn’t go according to plan and he was out for just 12. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 

Cummins is just the 10th captain in 82 Tests at Adelaide Oval to bowl first after winning the toss – only one of the previous nine won the match.

But the skipper backed up his surprise call with a haul of 4-41 before 26,361 spectators.

His pace partner Hazlewood (4-44) shredded the middle order with four consecutive wickets, becoming the 11th Australian to reach the 250 Test wickets milestone.

“We thought the wicket was going to do the most this morning,” Hazlewood said.

“A lot of people play Shield games here with the red ball and think it gets flatter as the game goes on so the best time to probably take 10 wickets is straight up, if we get it right.

“To get 10 (wickets) today backed up that decision.”

West Indian novice Kirk McKenzie, a 23-year-old Jamaican in his second Test, top-scored with a polished 50.

Only an innings-high last-wicket stand of 55 runs by debutant No.11 Shamar Joseph (36) and No.10 Kemar Roach (17no) spared the visitors complete calamity.

Fast bowler Joseph continued his memorable day by removing Smith with his first ball in Test cricket, ending the initial phase of the Australian stalwart’s experiment as an opening batsman.

The 24-year-old quick also had a hooking Marnus Labuschagne (10) caught on the fine leg boundary to finish with 2-18.

“I had a few conversations with the boys in the dressing room, I told him that I would get a wicket on my first ball, but I didn’t know it was Steve Smith,” Joseph said.

“I really love Steve Smith, the way he go about and play his cricket.

“And getting his wicket, I will remember this for the rest of my life.”

Despite Joseph’s strikes, Australia are in a position of power with Usman Khawaja, who was dropped on three, not out 30 and Cameron Green unbeaten on six.

 Usman Khawaja is 30 not out but lucky to still be at the crease. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 

Earlier, Cummins justified his call to bowl first by taking the initial two wickets before Hazlewood captured his 250th wicket by bowling Alick Athanaze (13) some 15 minutes before lunch.

After the break, Hazlewood added three more wickets in a superb three-over span – at one stage he boasted figures of 4-14.

Josh Hazlewood
 Josh Hazlewood caused all sorts of problems for the West Indies in the first Test in Adelaide. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 

The Hazlewood inflicted blows came as the West Indies lost 6-35 to slump to 9-133.

Debutant Joseph and Roach then produced their last-wicket stand  – the third 10th-wicket partnership of 50 or more against Australia in the past year.

The 10th-wicket average partnership of 19.4 runs against Australia in the past 12 months is the highest of any Test team.

“In the bowlers’ meetings, we go down to (batsmen number) eight and nine,” Hazlewood said.

“We probably should keep going and have a look at 10 and 11, we have had a few issues there.

“All the bowlers can just bat these days … they can all hang on to it (the bat), they have all got good confidence.”