The big picture
For the first time in nearly seven years, two sides with a rich history in Test cricket are meeting. The history has sadly been one-sided for a long time, but this is a high profile encounter for Australia and the West Indies.
(Last five matches, most recent first)
West Indies: WWWDD
In the spotlight
Steven Smith has improved his hands, feet, stance, grip…everything seems to be working perfectly for him, as well since 2016. This is a scary prospect for the opposition bowlers as Smith still averages 61 in Tests. Since then, though, the struggle has been greater in the last two years. The signs were promising in the ODIs against England but he may have to be wary of a lively Perth pitch. Still, it looks like this could be a summer of runs for Smith.
The XI confirmed by Australia could have been selected weeks ago: Josh Hazlewood’s return to the team, the last four Tests on terms against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the previous four Ashes Tests due to injury. . Scott Boland will have to wait to build on his bowling average of 9.55.
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marence Lebuschgan, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wicket), 8 Pat Cummins (captain), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazel Wood.
Brathwaite confirmed that Chandrapal would make his debut and Ramon Reffer was ruled out through injury. Further, West Indies will name their team tomorrow. But the good news was that Blackwood and Jayden Sales were fine after a brief scare during training on Monday. Chances are, four quicks with the help of Ruston Chase’s off-spin.
West Indies (Probable): 1 Craig Brathwaite (captain), 2 Tagnarine Chandrapaul, 3 Nkrumah Bonner, 4 Kyle Mears, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Ruston Chase, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Joshua Da Silva (wicket), 9 Al-Zari Joseph, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Jayden Seales
Pitch and conditions
Perth. Hot. Speed bounce. Cracks We’ll definitely get some of that, the first day is set to be 35 degrees, and there’s a chance for them all. There was plenty of life in the T20 World Cup pitches – the India vs South Africa encounter was perhaps the best indicator, given the bowling attack – even though it’s not so early in the season. On the eve of the match, the curator said he had left 12mm of grass on the surface although he could get a trim before the toss. Also worth noting is Nathan Lyon’s impressive record at the Optus Stadium, where he has taken 14 wickets at 15.50 in two matches.
“I think there are a lot of good things going on at the moment, especially this Test team [being] No. 1 in the world. It’s disappointing that sometimes the focus is diverted to off-field issues, but it hasn’t really affected our team.”
Australian captain Pat Cummins Tries to draw attention back to cricket after distractions off the field.
“Our long-form cricket has really developed. It’s a really good sign that a lot of our players are actually developing at the pace we want them to develop. It’s not going to be an easy tour. But. . . . It’s a tour. That many people make a name for themselves.”
Jason Holder On a positive note for the West Indies