Group B: Australia v West Indies|
Manchester - 30 May 1999
CricInfo report by John Polack
Australia 111/4 (40.4 overs) beat West Indies 110 all out
In the close to their qualifying campaign at this 1999 World Cup, a mentally stronger Australian team has staged a stunning revival from its mediocre form earlier in the tournament to emphatically defeat West Indies here at Old Trafford today. At the end of a strange day's play which finally saw the Australians prevail by the emphatic margin of six wickets from the fourth ball of the forty-first over, it is hard to express anything other than significant admiration for the men for the Antipodes because this was a great effort under the most intense of pressures. While this was not, in truth, a great cricket match, and the result only appeared likely to go one way from early in the piece, it was nevertheless an excellent performance when one considers that the Australians were in grave danger of being eliminated from this tournament at the start of the day.
Desperate times in this tournament indeed called for desperate measures from the Australians. Perhaps given that that was the scenario, it should not have been regarded as a surprise, then, that this was a day on which it was the intervention of their two trump cards with the ball - Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne - which was the key to the victory. In short, McGrath (his 5/14 off a sensational 8.4 overs giving him the best individual figures of the tournament) and Warne (3/11 from 10 overs) were both in stupendous form today; McGrath making three vital early breakthroughs and Warne adding a triumvirate of scalps in the middle to press home the significant advantage their captain had gained for them by winning the toss in conditions which were extremely difficult for batting.
This was as complete a bowling exhibition as we have probably seen from a team in this World Cup to date. The lanky New South Welshman set the tone early, bowling a maiden with which to start and then dismissing Sherwin Campbell (2), Jimmy Adams (0) and Brian Lara (9) in quick succession in the midst of a wonderful exhibition of fiery pace bowling. The ball to dismiss Lara was almost certainly the most memorable highlight among a morning littered with them for the Australians - that delivery a classical leg-cutter which beat the star player all ends up. Leg spinner Shane Warne was also back to his best, crucially dismissing Shivnarine Chanderpaul (16) with his third ball after the left hander had shared a 43 run stand for the fourth wicket with Ridley Jacobs in easily the most productive association of the day and then continuing to trouble and contain the West Indians throughout. In an adequate statistical tribute to precisely how well they bowled, McGrath (back to his destructive best) ended the innings with the astounding figures of 5/14 off eight overs and four balls and Warne with the astonishing figures of 3/11off his allotted ten.
There was some respite for the West Indians when Jacobs and Chanderpaul capitalised on the removal of McGrath from the attack after a grand opening spell (which saw him seize 3/12 off six overs) but theirs was an all too brief show of resistance. Jacobs was the only player to show the backbone and substance that was needed in the situation, carrying his bat to make a dogged unbeaten 49 in an unfamiliarly patient hand. Whilst Curtly Ambrose then produced a great burst of his own with the ball in the early afternoon, bowling unchanged from the start of the innings at the Warwick Road End to claim 3/31 off 10 probing overs, their dismal total of 110 then proved completely inadequate to hold the rampant Australians out.
Even though they worked their way under the skins of an increasingly dissatisfied (and jeering) crowd and a large number of already dissatisfied members of the English media, the winners even found time today (literally) to control the pace of their chase to enhance their claims of performing well at the Super Six stage of the event. Having come together with their team slightly vulnerable at 62/4 in the twentieth over, and essentially ensured a triumph for their team, Michael Bevan and Steve Waugh tempered the pace of the pursuit completely. Once they had edged their team to within seven runs of the required mark, they adopted the strategy of batting at a sufficiently dilatory pace to ensure that they did not inflict a huge deal of damage upon their opponents' net run rate. Under the new rules in vogue in this seventh World Cup, it was clearly in Australia's interests to increase the West Indians' chances of finishing ahead of New Zealand on run rate and thereby qualifying for the Super Six. Having lost to New Zealand at Cardiff on May 20, the Australians would be in line to forfeit a possible two points at the Super Six stage if the Kiwis were to qualify and their strategy was as prudent as the jeering - and obligatory post-match invasion - was boorish.
For the West Indians, the tale was a complete contrast. Aside from Jacobs, their batsmen failed to show sufficient application today and they never looked likely to win the game. Depending on how New Zealand fares tomorrow, this may well have been the last occasion on which their two great fast bowling stalwarts, Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, may have been seen at international level in this country and their batting teammates ensured that it was far from an appropriate way for them to exit the stage.