The Bellerive Oval, Hobart would become the battleground for the first match to be played between Australia and West Indies for The Frank Worell Trophy 2015/16. While Australia would go all guns blazing to win the series 3-0, West Indies would be out to regain their respect after their warm-up game ending in a disastrous 10-wicket defeat by the rookie team Cricket Australia XI.
The past records suggest that Australia are the clear favourites as for more than 20 years, the Aussies have held The Frank Worell Trophy. With the added advantage of being the home side, the third-ranked Test team’s morale also seems to be on a higher side as they’ve being coming off a 2-0 home series win over New Zealand and have even defeated the Caribbean boys on their home turf 2-0 previously in the year.
In contrast to a great past record possessed by the Australians, the West Indies team have won just 4 of their last 20 Tests and were left humiliated by the recent 10-wicket defeat in the warm-up game against the inexperienced team Cricket Australia XI. While rankings are being taken into account, the visitors sit above only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. They won their last Test in Australia in 1997 while have failed to secure a series victory since 1992-93.
“I love being the underdog,” paceman Kemar Roach said this week. “So when we come out on top it will be a whole different story. We will go out there, do the best we can and give them a good run.”
Talking about teams, Australia would be missing quite a few key players. Retirements being the current trend followed by the players, the likes of Michael Clarke, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson won’t be seen anymore in Australian whites. Trying to fill in the huge gaps created by the above-mentioned players, Usman Khawaja has been called in to replace the former captain. Khawaja, injured from his last outing would not be seen in the Hobart Test but become available for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. James Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile have been asked to join Josh Hazlewood to consist the Australian Pace attack by the selectors.
The tourists say they have identified weaknesses to exploit in the Australian batting lineup for their own bowlers, led by Jerome Taylor, Holder and Roach.
“They have some in-form batsmen like David Warner and Steve Smith so it’s important we put pressure on the middle order,” Holder said. “If we can get some early wickets with the new ball we can get guys like Shaun Marsh, who are trying to make their way back into the side, and put them under some pressure to score.”
The tale of the pitch comes into play as a big factor. As expected, the West Indies fast bowlers were excited to see the green pitch a few days out from the Test but the likelihood is that by the morning of the match they will be greeted by a better wicket for batting. There could be some showers over the course of the game, with top temperatures in the low 20s.
In the attempt to regain pride and silence the pundits who think the Caribbean boys can’t be victorious, West Indies will have forgotten the warm-up game debacle, the past records and stats which do not favor them and only believe in themselves and ultimately play as a unit to do the unthinkable. On the other hand, Australia would be confident enough to carry their winning momentum from past games to win the series with an expected washout score line. Although they would be missing prominent players from their line-up, the comeback players would look forward to making the most of the opportunity to cement their position in the starting XI.
Predicted XI –
Australia – Joe Burns, David Warner, Steven Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon
West Indies – Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope/Rajendra Chandrika, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Jason Holder (capt), Carlos Brathwaite, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Devendra Bishoo.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (RSA), Ian Gould (ENG)
TV umpire: Chris Gaffaney (NZL)
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)
Venue: Bellerive Oval, Hobart
Date: December 10-14, 2015
Time: 10:30 local (23:30 GMT)