January 27, 2024

Second Test LIVE: Gabba affair on a knife’s edge after Australia’s bold declaration

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Poll: How many will the West Indies score?

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Stats: The rise of Australian batters in their own backyard


Brettig: Why opening session holds the key to Australia’s run chase

By Daniel Brettig

It is hot as a convection oven at the Gabba ahead of day three, with a smaller crowd than the first two days expected due to uncertainty about impending heavy rain.

That said, the forecast for Brisbane has improved, with showers now not expected to hit until deep into the nighttime session under lights.

In enervating conditions – commentators are using umbrellas on the outfield to dodge the sun – the Australian bowlers will need to hit the right areas early in the knowledge that the pink ball is at its most dangerous when new, before becoming very pleasant for batting as evidenced by the shape of each side’s first innings.

No Australian side has successfully chased more than 250 in the fourth innings here, although India ran down 328 to win at the Gabba in January 2021.


Inside the Windies plot to trap Smith early


Is Australia too dominant at home?

By Tom Decent

If Pat Cummins and co can defeat the West Indies in Brisbane this week, it will be just the 12th time in history – since 1876/77 – that Australia’s men’s Test side has whitewashed their opponents in a home summer.

Last summer, it was only wet weather and South African resistance at the SCG that stood in the way of Australia and a clean sweep of wins against the West Indies and Proteas.

Winning margins of 164 runs, 419 runs, six wickets, plus an innings and 182-run demolition of South Africa in Melbourne left many fans craving closer contests. While results were a little closer this summer, it has been much of the same.

Australia are undefeated in their past 14 Tests on home soil. It is the national team’s best run since a streak of 17 undefeated matches from 2012 to 2015 in Australia.

Fans like to see their team winning, but is there such a thing as winning too often?

Back-to-back summers against perceived ‘weaker opponents’ – those who aren’t India or England – was merely a quirk of the futures tours program cycle.

However, two huge summers are on the horizon, with India coming out later this year for five Tests before a home Ashes series the following year.


While a formidable opponent for any touring side, Australia have not won their last two home series against India.

Since the turn of the century, Australia has won 96 of 133 matches at home (72 per cent) and lost just 16 (12 per cent).

That’s a far higher home winning record – in the same period – than India (60.6 per cent), England (56.8 per cent) and South Africa (62 per cent).

Is Australia becoming more dominant at home? It might feel like it, but the numbers show there hasn’t been a drastic change in the past 25 years.

Read the full story here.


Brettig: Smith’s ugly exit will test selectors resolve

It just looked ugly.

Steve Smith’s lbw dismissal to Kemar Roach, having shuffled so far across that both leg and middle stumps were visible, was the kind of moment that would give any cricketer pause to think about their future.

When added to the fact that he has only just moved up to open the batting after lobbying strongly for the chance to replace David Warner when the left-hander retired at the end of the SCG Test, that thinking won’t just be confined to Smith alone.

Another slow walk from the crease for Smith.Credit: Getty Images

In the days and weeks prior to the announcement of Australia’s Test squad to face the West Indies, the common question raised by those sceptical about moving Smith up to open was this: what happens if it doesn’t go well?

Famously precise, even wilful, about his batting position and way of doing things, Smith will have to fight the urge to want to change after his early exits at the hands of Roach and Shamar Joseph.


The brand-new ball, even in the hands of the West Indian attack, is more challenging than the one Smith has become used to facing at four.

Well-informed figures around the team were willing to suggest that a couple of low scores or awkward dismissals might have Smith wanting to switch back down the order – a scenario that the selection chair George Bailey tried to knock on the head when naming the team.

“That’s been part of the discussions with Steve,” Bailey said. “He’s keen for this to be a significant chapter in his career. For all intents and purposes, this is where Steve wants to stay. No, it’s not [an experiment].”

Read the full story here.


Conn: How Cummins saved Australia on day two

By Malcolm Conn

Belligerent batting and aggressive captaincy by Pat Cummins has revitalised Australia in the day-night Test against the West Indies at Brisbane’s Gabba.

The tourists went to stumps on the second night of the second Test at 1-13 in their second innings, an overall lead of 35, after Tagenarine Chanderpaul was caught behind on review for four from the slightest of nicks.

Pat Cummins celebrates his half-century.Credit: Getty Images

Cummins was unbeaten on 64 from 73 balls with eight fours and a six when he declared on 9-289, 22 behind, to have the last half an hour bowling under lights.

“We’ve seen with that new ball there’s enough opportunity, so it’s a big morning (first session) for us tomorrow,” Alex Carey said after play.


The most successful fourth-innings chase by Australia at the Gabba was 7-236 against the West Indies during 1951-52. The only better chase was India’s remarkable 7-329 during 2020-21 to win the series and cost Australia a place in the inaugural World Test Championship.

“We obviously know that the first 20 overs is the new ball threat,” Carey said. “Get through that and there’s potential to score a big target.”

That Australia were able to get so close yet again highlighted the Jekyll and Hyde nature of day-night cricket’s pink ball. It can be virtually unplayable while hard for the first 20 overs or so then batsmen are seemingly undismissible when it goes soft.

Australia crashed to 5-54 and it would have been 6-72 but for a zing bail reprieve which allowed Carey to play his best innings of the summer.

Read the full story here.


Poll: How many will the West Indies score?


The forecast: Hot and sticky. Very sticky


Welcome to day three

Afternoon sports fans,

Welcome to day three, could it be the final day of the Test summer? Just might be. Or not, what would I know? Feels like Australia’s game after the lower-order rally brought them to almost within parity late last night, especially given the fragility of the West Indies line-up. It’s not fair at all on the tourists given how well they played for the majority of day two, but that’s cricket.

The Windies lead by 35 runs with nine wickets in hand. A target of 200-250 will be a real handful, but there’s plenty of cricket before that too. As always Malcolm Conn and Daniel Brettig are on the ground in Brisbane, and I’ll be on the keys throughout. First ball at 3pm AEDT.

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