Recent Match Report – Australia vs West Indies 1st Test 2023/24

Australia 59 for 2 (Khawaja 30*, Joseph 2-18) trail West Indies 188 (McKenzie 50, Cummins 4-41, Hazlewood 4-44) by 129 runs

Shamar Joseph enjoyed a memorable opening day in Test cricket as West Indies just about kept themselves in touch with Australia at Adelaide Oval after Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins had all but dismantled their first innings.

After hitting 36 from No. 11 in a final-wicket stand of 55 to lift the visitors from 133 for 9, Shamar Joseph became the 23rd player to strike with his first ball in Test cricket when he had new opener Steven Smith caught in the slips. In his first innings as opener, Smith had played a couple of strong pulls before becoming a little part of cricket history.

But Shamar Joseph’s day wasn’t done yet. He added Marnus Labuschagne, top-edging a hook to long leg, to his tally and was a crowd favourite by the end of play. Things might have been even better for West Indies had wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva not dropped Usman Khawaja on 3 in Alzarri Joseph’s first over.

Khawaja and Cameron Green, recalled at No. 4, managed to see out the closing half an hour of the day. Australia remained in control having kept West Indies to an under-par total after putting them into bat, but it was not the sort of dominant position that appeared likely midway through the afternoon when Hazlewood sliced through the middle order, including taking his 250th Test wicket.

There had been concerns over the nature of the contest given the disparity in experience and skill between the teams: Australia had 700 Test caps in their XI compared to 246 in West Indies’ of which two players, Kraigg Brathwaite and Roach, held 168.

Left-hander Kirk McKenzie, playing his second Test, had offered some encouragement for the inexperienced visiting team with a well-constructed maiden fifty, but he was among the afternoon-session slide against Hazlewood as West Indies lost 6 for 35 and eyes were quickly turning to Smith in his new opening role.

However, there was unexpected resistance from the final-wicket pair who saw out an extended session. Shamar Joseph, a 24-year-old who had just five first-class matches under his belt, was given a tough welcome to Test cricket when cracked on the helmet by Mitchell Starc but took on the quicks including mowing Hazlewood for six over the leg side. It was the second time in consecutive Tests that Australia had conceded a final-wicket stand over 50.

For the most part, Australia were excellent with the ball and Hazlewood was to the fore. His first wicket of the day, when Alick Athanaze shouldered arms and lost off stump, was his 250th and meant all four of Australia’s frontline quicks had hit that mark – the first such instance in history of a quartet playing together with that tally.

Cummins, meanwhile, added four more wickets to his recent prolific form. He removed both West Indies’ openers, Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul after going against convention by bowling first on a well-grassed surface – just the second captain since 1992 to send a side in at Adelaide Oval, which this year was hosting a day Test rather than a pink-ball encounter.

On a cool, overcast morning, Australia applied early pressure against an almost static opening pair, whose early boundaries were an edge over the slips and another past the stumps, and the quicks strung together five maidens in a row.

Chanderpaul’s attempts at a rare attacking stroke in Cummins’ opening over gave Australia their first breakthrough when Green leapt high in the gully to add to his list of outstanding takes in that position. A reminder of another skill he brings to the team.

Two overs later, Cummins completed a working over of Brathwaite when he straightened one off the seam to take off stump, the delivery after a rare misdirection of an attempting inswinger had produced a wild four byes down the leg side.

Athanaze and McKenzie steadied the innings for a period that included an early spell for Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Marsh being used ahead of Green. Both left-handers played some pleasing drives, but Athanaze was left to rue a significant misjudgment when Hazlewood brought one back from around the wicket.

There was encouraging progress made after lunch as McKenzie and debutant Kavem Hodge forged a promising stand for the fourth wicket, led by McKenzie who grew in confidence. Green was in action straight after the break, meaning six bowlers had been used within 30 overs and he nudged the speed gun over 140kph.

It was the returning Hazlewood who broke the back of the innings. Hodge was drawn into a drive with Green snaffling another sharp chance at gully, McKenzie edged a rising delivery behind shortly after bringing up his half-century, and another debutant, Justin Greaves, drove carelessly to mid-off.

Hometown hero Travis Head took an excellent catch at deep square leg from Da Silva’s top-edged pull as the collapse gathered what appeared unstoppable momentum, only for West Indies to suggest they may yet be able to have a say in how this game plays out.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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