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Yorkshire Blue

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As uninspiring as England v NZ (again) is, West Indies v Australia produced some enthralling play to show that it is England who are short of inspiration, not the format or the sport.

Two years ago this would have been a gigantic mismatch, but the WIndies are a team finally on an upward curve (and make no mistake, they have left themselves plenty of room for improvement), whilst Australia are a shadow of their former self since a spate of retirements, none more so than that of Glenn McGrath.

The WIndies batting still looks fragile and overly reliant on Chanderpaul, but Chanderpaul recovered from being floored by a Brett Lee bouncer to hit another century. He received little support - Sarwan, the next best West Indian batsman - having been dismissed cheaply the previous evening, other than a century stand with Runako Morton and a cameo from Bravo. At one stage, he watched from the other end as 4 wickets fell for 10 runs as the tail crumpled around him, but with only Fidel Edwards and the wonderfully named Jaggernauth for company he managed to eek out nearly another 5 runs to leave the WIndies still 119 runs behind.

In recent years the WIndies would have crumbled, but this lot are made of slightly sterner stuff, or rather aren't quite so flimsy - they recent won a test match abroad for the first time in years - and led by Daren Powell and the irrepressible Fidel Edwards they roared back.

Ricky Ponting is a class act with the bat, still for my money the best batsman in the world as he demonstrated yet again in the first innings when he rescued the Convicts, but if you can get an early wicket and go after him early, the Aussies are vulnerable. With Langer retired and flat-track bully Hayden injured, it was the unfamiliar pairing of Jacques and Katich, but Edwards had Jacques edging behind and the WIndies had their tails up. There is no more exciting sight in sport than a fast bowler with his tail him up and a collapse on. It wasn't just Fidel Edwards, Daren Powell was threatening at the other end and had Ponting well caught at slip by Bravo to the obvious jubilation of all involved. All of a sudden Sabina Park was rocking. Edwards roared in to have Flintoff's bunny Katich trapped so plumb lbw the batsman should have walked and then Powell got one through Hussey's bat and pad to castle him, and all of a sudden the Aussies were reeling at 12/4.

Nightwatchman Mitchell Johnson survived until the close, but only by edging one between 4th slip and gully for 4, but the WIndies will know if they can get him early tomorrow its Krusty the Clown next in, followed by Haddin, who is no Gilchrist.

The chances are, the Aussies grind out a lead and Symonds takes the game away from the WIndies, but an evening session just sows the seeds of doubt so that you can start to dream what might happen and to remind you what a fantastic sport cricket is.




Ricky Ponting is still a class act, as he demonstrated in his first innings ton, although apparently he had some unconvincing moments, but with flat-track bully Hayden injured and Langer retired the Aussies have issues with their openers.
 
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