Travis Head
Travis Head's century has helped put Australia on the cusp of beating the West Indies. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

Windies warn of more pain as Aussies eye first Test win

Steve Larkin January 18, 2024

The West Indies hierarchy are grimly warning of more pain to come after they cop a first Test walloping from Australia.

Barring a miracle, the Australians will wrap up victory in the series opener inside three days at Adelaide Oval.

The West Indies will resume on Friday at 6-73 in their second innings, 22 runs from making Australia bat again.

After a Travis Head counter-punch century on Thursday’s day two, paceman Josh Hazlewood landed further blows with four wickets in 27 balls to leave the weakened West Indies on the ropes.

Head’s belligerent 119 helped Australia compile 283 in reply to the West Indies’ first innings of 188.

Hazlewood then took 4-2 in a stunning opening spell as the once-mighty West Indies meekly folded.

And coach Andre Coley is ominously warning there’s no light at the end of the Test tunnel.

The visitors, ranked eighth in the world, are fielding a side in Adelaide with seven cricketers who have played less than eight Tests, including three debutants.

Ex-captain Jason Holder is among a senior core who chose to play in global Twenty20 leagues rather than tour Australia.

However, the West Indies have unearthed a gem in Adelaide, paceman Shamar Joseph.

Shamar Joseph
 Shamar Joseph has picked up five wickets against Australia while making his Test debut. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 

Three years ago, Joseph, from the remote Guyanese village of Baracara, had only bowled with fruit and tape-balls.

Now, a year after playing his initial first-class match, the 24-year-old is the 10th West Indian to take five or more wickets in an innings on Test debut.

But cashed-up T20 franchises are already circling, which Coley says is evidence of the problems facing West Indies cricket.

“Our situation is that financially we aren’t secure enough to be able to offer substantial central contracts,” Coley said.

“And that is always going to be a challenge for us.

“What we have tried to do in the last six, 12 months is really have more conversations with the players to be able to work out windows where we can have our best players available.

“This is something that is widespread already and will become more of a challenge, but moreso for countries who potentially aren’t financially viable and don’t play a lot of Test cricket.”

Josh Hazlewood high-fives Mitch Marsh
 Josh Hazlewood high-fives Mitch Marsh after taking a wicket against the West Indies in Adelaide. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 

Joseph captured 5-95 and troubled all Australian batsmen, though the swashbuckling Head flourished.

The South Australian revelled before a 23,698-strong home crowd to register his seventh Test ton from 122 balls to a raucous ovation.

On a tricky batting pitch, Head, Usman Khawaja (45) and No.10 Nathan Lyon (24) were the only Australians to pass 15 – Cameron Green’s return to the line-up fell flat when dismissed for 12.

Head mixed some edgy near-misses with audacious strokeplay, smacking a dozen fours and three sixes.

“It was pretty rough going, but that reflects the wicket,” Head said.

“But I am really happy with the way that I was able to fight through that … I felt like I took my chances when I could.”

The Head knock delivered Australia an imposing 95-run first-innings lead and Hazlewood promptly cashed in with his devastating opening spell.

The right-armer, who took 4-41 in the first innings, removed Tagenarine Chanderpaul for a duck, Kraigg Brathwaite (one), Alick Athanaze (duck) and Kavem Hodge (three) in a 27-ball span.