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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Clark checks West Indies reply

Australia 431 (R Ponting 158, A Symonds 70 no, B Hodge 67, M Hussey 56, F Edwards 5/104) v West Indies 3/115 (S Clark 3/18): Day 2 First Test at Sabina Park, Jamaica.

West Indies didn't give up, and their quick bowlers and fielders brought them some way back into the game, as they reduced Australia from their overnight 4/301 to 9/399. Much of the damage was done by Fidel Edwards though Dwayne Bravo persevered well with the ball and inspired in the field: his catch to dismiss Stuart Clark off Daren Powell was in the same class as yesterday's sharp slip catch of Mike Hussey.

Brad Hodge only added 14 to his overnight 53 before Edwards had him caught behind for 67/122b ((9x4, 1x6), but he should feel pleased at his own performance. The selectors might also ponder how best to use him : if he can't make the first choice XI he'd be a handy backup player for England 2009. Andrew Symonds's 70 no/115b (8x4, 2x6) began with test cricket watchfulness and, in the later stages of the innings, shifted to T20 mode.

When the West Indies batted Devon Smith and Brenton Parchment negotiated the Brett Lee - Mitchell Johnson attack well, Smith attacking and Parchment defending. When Stuart Clark came on it was a different matter as Smith was bowled, then Ramnaresh Sarwan and Parchment were caught behind in quick succession off him.

!/47 to 3/68 looked par for the course for the current WI XI. The wicket played a little unevenly and the other Australian bowlers weren't at their best, but Clark's singlehanded effort (8-3-18-3)was enough to reinforce the achievements of the batters and confirm his team's grip on the game, despite a late infusion of some iron into the Windies soul by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Runako Morton. Clark bowled very much in the Glenn McGrath style, with great accuracy and sufficient variation of movement to ensure that each batsman watched each ball carefully; but even then three of them failed to do so.

3/115 at stumps is better than looked probable at one point but it's still a long, long way from saving the game, let alone winning it. Unlike Manchester, where England are playing NZ at the moment, there seems to be no rain around, even if the slow over rate (only 76.5 overs bowled today out of a notional possible 90) may act as a brake.

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