Australia suffer another T20 loss to Windies
The end of the Australian summer arrived at 10.03pm (local time) on a Wednesday night in Brisbane, with fans filing out of a half-empty ground two overs early and a depleted home side losing its fifth-consecutive T20 international.
If this is the brave new world of cricket, none of the kids were able to stay up late enough to see its dawn. Half their luck, perhaps, given the woes of Australia in the shortest form of the game, a run of outs completely at odds to the exuberance of the world champion West Indies, who coasted to a 27-run triumph.
It's been a lean summer for the tourists but they caught some calypso fire last night, posting 191 for the Australians to chase before starving them in the pursuit with clever captaincy, miserly bowling from Sunil Narine (2-19) and Kieron Pollard (3-30) and a thumping 57 off 37 balls from Johnson Charles to start the ball rolling.
It was the first time the West Indies have beaten Australia in any form of the game on these shores since 1997, when they won a test in Perth. Paul Reiffel played in that game and umpired this one.
With a host of Australia's top-liners in India with the test squad, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Ben Rohrer were given their first caps, while Adam Voges made the cut after overcoming a hamstring scare.
It was a good thing he did. The in-form West Australian smashed 51 off 33 balls in reply to the West Indian total and while he was there with Shaun Marsh (21 off 19), the Australians looked a chance.
But little by little they cracked, then split at the seams. The run outs returned, first Marsh, then Voges, and momentum was sapped. Brad Haddin's spritely 22 off 11, including two thumping sixes, revived some hope but when he went, the end was inevitable.
The West Indies set up their total with a rollicking finish, taking 48 runs from the final three overs as Clint McKay (0-44), James Faulkner (3-28) and Josh Hazlewood (1-36) were set upon, while Ben Cutting (0-43) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (1-36) failed to curtail the earlier tide.
Faulkner had bowled a treat and had the superb figures of 3-11 before his final over until Darren Sammy hit him for two sixes amid a 17-run final over. One, in the second tier over long on, was one of the biggest seen at the ground in a decade.
A lack of slow bowling would haunt Australia, given the crucial role Narine played for his side in frustrating any attempt to force the pace. With Xavier Doherty and Nathan Lyon in India, it's possible Cricket Australia simply ran out of phone numbers for available tweakers.
A crowd of just under 20,000 wasn't a disaster by any means but a half-strength side playing a one-off T20 on a school night was never going to have them hanging from the bleachers.
It was another strong showing from a West Indian side that thrives in the 20-over format, even when Chris Gayle (8) once again struck out. His tour has been horrible but he departs with the last laugh.
Australia, now ranked seventh in the world, must show rapid improvement to be a force at the 2013 World Cup in Bangladesh. With that in mind, exposing BBL products like Coulter-Nile to the top level can only be seen as a positive on an otherwise underwhelming evening for the Australians.
Sydney Morning Herald