McDonald
Australia coach Andrew McDonald has left the door open for Cameron Green to replace David Warner. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

Windies newcomers won’t get it easy again: Australia

Steve Larkin January 20, 2024

Australian coach Andrew McDonald remains optimistic a reshuffled batting line-up will work, despite lacklustre returns in the first-Test trouncing of the West Indies.

While the Australians romped to a 10-wicket win before lunch on day three in Adelaide, only centurion Travis Head passed 45.

Steve Smith, in his elevation to opener, made 12 and 11 not not, while Cameron Green managed only 14 in his sole innings on returning to the team.

First-drop Marnus Labuschagne (10 and 1no) also failed in his initial knock. Like Smith, he was dismissed by West Indian debutant Shamar Joseph who took 5-95 in his debut innings with the ball.

Another debutant, Justin Greaves, claimed 2-36, but McDonald expects improved output from Australia’s batters in the second Test starting in Brisbane on Wednesday.

“A sample size of one is always difficult to judge,” McDonald said.

“We’re comfortable with where it has all landed.

“We feel as though that top six and the way they complement each other gives us the best opportunity to maximise.

Cam green and Steve Smith
 Australia are happy with their new batting line-up despite Cameron Green and Steve Smith’s failures. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

“And we’re very comfortable with Smudge (Smith) at the top of the order, and seeing Cameron Green back out there in the field with ball and bat in hand was great to see also.

“We’re optimistic it will work, and I suppose hindsight will tell us everything.”

McDonald said the batters hadn’t faced the West Indies’ newcomers before.

“We feel as though now that there’s less unknowns going into the second Test match, we’ve had a good look at them,” he said.

“A lot of those little decision-making errors that may have crept in I think will iron themselves out.”

Opener Usman Khawaja made 45 in the first innings but retired hurt in the second innings on nine after being struck by a Joseph bouncer.

Khawaja, who was spitting blood and feeling his jaw when leaving the field, passed a second concussion test on Saturday, and scans have cleared him of any break in the jaw.

The left-hander was therefore cleared to fly home to Brisbane ahead of the final Test of the home summer.

He will face more concussion checks for delayed symptoms in coming days.

Matt Renshaw is the standby batter, but he was released from Australia’s Test squad on day one of the Test so he could play in the BBL for the Brisbane Heat.

He was due to return to Adelaide for day four on Saturday, but the Test finished on Friday.

Renshaw made 16 in the Heat’s loss to the Sydney Sixers in the BBL qualifier on Friday night.

The Sixers booked a home berth in Wednesday night’s final, with Renshaw to remain on the Gold Coast for Brisbane’s Monday night challenger match.

“We consider the risk when we release players, and I think it’s about 0.5 per cent of a chance in terms of a concussion happening,” McDonald said.

“So it was ironic that the first time we have let a player go back to the Big Bash that there was a head knock.”