Part-time bowler helps Australia waltz to a win

 

WHEN Australia began the fourth day against the West Indies, the latest news from Auckland suggested that the only remaining issue was whether they would wrap up the Test before England. Never has a £5 bet on England's behalf proved so inadvisable.

Whereas England laboured to dismiss New Zealand for the entire day, without success, Australia required only 52 minutes to take the last four West Indies wickets to win the Adelaide Test, go 3-1 up in the series and retain the Frank Worrell Trophy.

When you are the outstanding side in the world, life is ridiculously simple. There was no frustration, no panic, no resignation. Just a routine victory against the side that capitulated to ordinary shots against fairly ordinary deliveries.

The balance of Australia's attack insisted, when they lost the toss at the start of this Test, that they should come a cropper. England would never have got away with it: one high-class pace bowler, McGrath, supported by a novice assistant, Bichel, a superstar leg spinner with a dodgy finger in Warne, and, in Bevan, an enigmatic batsman who bowled left-arm Chinamen as a bit of a hobby.

Instead, after losing the toss, they won by an innings and 183 runs, with the wrist spin of Warne and Bevan counting for 16 West Indian wickets. Bevan finished with an extraordinary match analysis of 10 for 113.

It was Warne who snared the prize wicket of Lara, who added 13 to his overnight 65 before wondering about pulling, then cutting, then withdrawing, before doing none of them and bottom-edging to the wicketkeeper Healy.

For the second time in the match, Bevan then hounded the tail, Murray departing a wrong'un, Walsh to a slog, the last man Thompson to his own inadequacies. However, Bevan, sensibly, is not getting carried away. "My philosophy that I'm a part-time bowler hasn't changed," he said.

"I'm not quite sure what the expectations are, but I'll work at my bowling when I can. I'm still a batsman who bowls, and batting is the priority. I've still a lot to prove, but I know I'm a genuine Test cricketer."

Australia have confirmed their place on top of the cricketing world after clinching the series against West Indies yesterday.

Australia's victory in Adelaide put them clear at the top of the Wisden World Championship. Previously, they shared the lead with South Africa and West Indies.

The championship, devised by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, is unofficial, but South Africa intend to propose, at the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in June, that an official championship based on the Wisden system should be instituted.

Rankings are based on the most recent meetings, both home and away, between each pair of teams, with two points for winning each series or one-off test and one for drawing. The difference between the number played and points decides placings.