It would not be wrong to assert that the excitement level surrounding the upcoming Boxing Day test between Australia and West Indies has been the lowest before any iconic Boxing Day test. Boxing Day tests in Australia usually make up for the fascinating contests at the prestigious Melbourne Cricket Ground. Last year too, team India put on a great fight in the Boxing Day test, which turned out to be the final test of former Indian skipper MS Dhoni.
Before the series against Australia, several former West Indian greats had said that the men from the Caribbean had the potential to possibly catch Australia off guard and do well. The likes of legendary pacers Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh were among those individuals who felt that. After the first test at Hobart, which lasted barely 3 days, all talks of West Indies doing well Down Under seem like a fairytale being narrated to an infant – Full of positivity, but nothing in reality!
It is seriously now or never for the visitors. Their test performances have been shambolic to say the least and their mood within the dressing room inspires no confidence whatsoever. In derelict circumstances as these, the Calypso Kings need someone to step up and lead from the front with a broad chest, rather than chickening out against the Kangaroos.
In this article, we have a look at the five players to watch out for in the Boxing Day Test between Australia and West Indies.
1. Usman Khawaja:
The Australian think tank confirmed that Khawaja would be back for the Boxing Day test at the expense of the moody Shaun Marsh. Khawaja was unfortunate to miss out from the historic Day and Night Test against New Zealand after getting injured. In the first two tests against New Zealand, Khawaja seemed to be in dream form, as he not just scored quickly, but rather he got his runs in fluency and style. The talented southpaw comes on the back of a fascinating ton in the BBL, and going into Melbourne, expectations are high from Khawaja.
2. Darren Bravo:
Darren Bravo has been like an oasis in the desert for the West Indies. Bravo’s century in the first test at Hobart was just an example of his grit, ability and sheer talent. Bravo often has had the misfortune of not being supported by even one batsman from his side, and thus, his efforts have just been limited to his personal brilliance. If the visitors are to leave a serious impression in Australia, Bravo would have to score big for the West Indies, and the strip at Melbourne should his style of batting.
3. Mitchell Marsh:
The clock is ticking rather quickly for the younger Marsh. Like his elder brother Shaun, Mitchell has been guilty of not playing to his potential. 2, 34, 1, 4, 28, 1*, 1. These have been the underwhelming numbers of Marsh with the bat since the Brisbane test against New Zealand. He is definitely more talented than what these numbers suggest. There was even the talk of demoting him to number 7, and promoting Peter Nevill up the batting order. From the bowling front, things seem good for Marsh, but with the bat, it is time to step up and bat like a true all rounder.
4. Jerome Taylor:
Taylor remains in the news for all the wrong reasons leading up to the Boxing Day Test. During the recent warm-up fixture, there were indisputable question marks raised over his commitment for the team, when he faced the ground in the opposite direction. However, Taylor found backing in his team members but the episode will play on the back of his mind. The pacer in the past has bowled decisive spells for the West Indies, and if the visitors want to turn around their fortunes, Taylor will have to bowl his heart out.
5. James Pattinson:
All eyes were on Pattinson in Hobart, as he marked his return to international cricket with a tweaked bowling action. The five-wicket haul in the second innings should strengthen his case for the future when Mitchell Starc returns to lead the Australian pace attack. Nevertheless, with the experienced Peter Siddle in the scheme of things, there will always be the pressure on Pattinson to outperform his contemporaries. At his home ground, Pattinson will definitely enjoy bowling in the Boxing Day Test.