Match Preview – Australia vs West Indies, West Indies in Australia 2023/24, 1st Test

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On paper this looks like the ultimate mismatch. A powerful and successful Australia side, against a West Indies team that will feature at least three debutants and only five players with previous experience in the country. It will probably play out that way, too, but that does not mean there won’t be intrigue along the way.

For Australia, it’s the start of a new era following David Warner’s retirement. The solution to filling his spot took a somewhat unexpected twist when it was Steven Smith who was handed the role, having been the last person considered. He has never opened in first-class cricket, and the decision has prompted significant debate, but there would be little surprise if he makes a success of it.
A byproduct is that Cameron Green is able to return to the fold at No. 4, but otherwise it’s a case of same again for the home side. The fast bowlers are all good to keep going, helped by the fact that the Pakistan Tests finished in four days although Australia were pushed harder than some expected.
So to West Indies. For a myriad of reasons this is a vastly different squad to the one that toured Australia a little more than a year ago – one of the game’s many scheduling quirks meaning they are back for consecutive summers. They put up some stubborn resistance with the bat in Perth on the last trip, led by captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul, but were overwhelmed in Adelaide and across the two games took just 19 of a possible 40 wickets.
Kemar Roach, who famously roughed up Ricky Ponting in 2009, will need to make much more of an impact than an average of 90.62 shows he has managed in Australia before, with support from new vice-captain Alzarri Joseph. They do at least have an Australian top order to target that will be under a level of scrutiny given the changes.
Most interest, and excitement, among the new names in the West Indies squad is around quick bowler Shamar Joseph, from the village of Baracara in Guyana which is only accessible by boat, who impressed on the A tour of South Africa last year and produced an encouraging performance in the warm-up match against the Cricket Australia XI. For him, and plenty of others, this tour is a chance to make a name for themselves.

(last five matches, most recent first)
Australia WWWLD
West Indies DLLLW

In the spotlight: Cameron Green and Tagenarine Chanderpaul

Cameron Green has long been anointed Australia’s next superstar, and he showed glimpses in his first stint of Test cricket to suggest that tag was justified. But through a combination of factors, including adjusting to quickly changing between formats, a minor injury that ruled him out of the Headingley Test in the Ashes, and Mitchell Marsh’s subsequent outstanding form, he now needs to re-establish himself. No. 4 is viewed as his long-term home, although it was probably thought it would come through Smith’s retirement, not a batting order move. It will also be interesting how much Pat Cummins uses him with the ball.
Tagenarine Chanderpaul made a promising start to his Test career on last season’s tour of Australia with a half-century on debut followed by a pair of 40s. The match after that he scored a double-century against Zimbabwe but things have been a bit tougher since then against South Africa and India. Alongside his captain, he will be key to blunting Australia’s strong attack and giving the inexperienced middle order a chance to bed in.

Team news: Steven Smith’s opening debut; three debuts likely for West Indies

Australia’s XI was locked in last week with the squad announcement when the new spots for Smith and Green were confirmed. Matt Renshaw and Scott Boland are the reserve players.

Australia 1 Usman Khawaja, 2 Steven Smith, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Cameron Green, 5 Travis Head, 6 Mitchell Marsh 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Kraigg Brathwaite confirmed that Kavem Hodge and Justin Greaves will debut in the middle order along with Shamar Joseph in the pace attack.

West Indies 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Tagenarine Chanderpaul, 3 Kirk McKenzie, 4 Alick Athanaze, 5 Kavem Hodge, 6 Justin Greaves, 7 Joshua Da Silva (wk), 8 Alzarri Joseph, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Gudakesh Motie, 11 Shamar Joseph

For the first time since 2018 it will be a day game in Adelaide. That has not changed things hugely for curator Damian Hough who is renowned for making excellent Test surfaces. He expects this one to have good pace. “We’ve had a really good lead-in with the weather being able to get some good moisture throughout the pitch,” he said. The forecast is settled throughout.

  • In the likely XIs, Australia have 689 Test caps compared to West Indies’ 235 (of which Brathwaite and Roach have 166) before the start of the game
  • Josh Hazlewood needs one wicket to reach 250 in Tests and Mitchell Starc needs five for 350
  • Marnus Labuschagne needs four runs for 4000 in Tests and Travis Head 15 for 3000
  • “It’s always good here. I think it’s consistently a great balance, if you put in the right areas you feel like there’s enough there for the whole five days. But there’s also runs to be scored. It’s pretty bouncy and true so looks the same.”
    Pat Cummins on the pitch

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