By Craig Cozier
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Captain Michael Clarke says they won’t let that record fall in the second test starting here on Thursday. He’s determined for Australia to complete a 2-0 series sweep.
The visitors, despite thumping the West Indies by nine wickets inside of three days in Dominica to retain the Frank Worrell Trophy, are aware they have room for improvement.
Clarke was critical of his side’s top-order batting in the first test last week, as they needed a maiden century from 35-year-old debutant Adam Voges to lift them from the peril of 126-6 in the first innings to a total of 318, and a match-winning first-innings lead of 170. Legspinner Devendra Bishoo took 6-80 but the effort was wasted by his West Indies batsmen.
“We know that we have to have more disciplined with our shot selection,” Clarke said. “You’ll see us come out and play him (Bishoo) better.”
Australia, ranked second in the world, is sure to retain the same winning XI from Dominica, with veteran opener Chris Rogers still unable to return since he was hit on the head in the nets before the first test. The concussion lingers.
The West Indies is also eager to get more from its leading batsmen, with first test totals of 148 and 216 well below par, and coach Phil Simmons demanding more from his troops.
“The shot selection wasn’t good,” Simmons said. “We have to be able to go out there every innings and be selective, and know what shots to play in order to get us to where we want to be. That’s part of the learning process and the growing process.”
The West Indies bounced back from 1-1 down in its previous home series against England in May to square the series, and Simmons is adamant his side can rebound again.
“The series is not over yet,” he said. “We just need to bat properly in the first innings. The first innings sets up everything. If we bat properly and we get to 350-400, we’ve seen that our bowlers can put people under pressure.”
Simmons also admitted the Aussies’ superb fielding in the first test made a big difference.
“Australia didn’t drop a catch, guys dived all over and caught (well), and we dropped a couple of catches at crucial times,” he added.
West Indies will contemplate changes for the series decider, the 50th test in the Caribbean between them.
Shannon Gabriel faces competition for a final spot from fellow pacer Kemar Roach, and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul. In the batting department, rookie opener Shai Hope is under scrutiny after failing in his first two tests, with uncapped Rajendra Chandrika poised for a debut in his place.