Four down, one to go
- Windies sliding helplessly towards whitewash

by Tony Cozier in MELBOURNE
Stabroek News
December 30, 2000

ANOTHER Test, another capitulation, another massive defeat.

The West Indies' 17th in their last 19 overseas Tests was inevitable from as early as the second afternoon when, with a sickening familiarity, their first five second innings wickets crashed for 28.

When they resumed yesterday with their second innings also tottering at 10 for three and two whole days ahead of them, it was only a question of how long they could keep the Australians waiting.

It turned out to be three-quarters of an hour after lunch and only a repetition of the classy and mature batting of the youngest member of the team, 19-year-old Marlon Samuels, with assistance once more from the determined Ridley Jacobs and a little from Merv Dillon that carried it as late as that.

Samuels and Jacobs came together, as they did in the first innings, with the 51 that is the West Indies' lowest Test total in jeopardy.

Once more they brought a modicum of respectability to the effort. In the first innings, they came together at 28 for five and added 75.

Yesterday, Jacobs joined his young partner at an even more precarious 23 for six after three-quarters of an hour and the pair stayed together for over an hour, putting on 54 before the latest of the many poor umpiring decisions that have been an unfortunate feature of the series ended Jacobs' resistance.

The left-hander, earlier missed on a caught and bowled by off-spinner Colin Miller when 8, stretched forward to one that leapt from the footmarks in front of him.

The ball passed bat and gloves and deflected from his shoulder into and out of the gloves of wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist who threw himself backwards to take the rebound inches from the turf.

Umpire Steve Taufel's raised finger to Australian appeals left Jacobs dumfounded. He pointed to his shoulder before trudging off. By Michael Holding's reckoning, it was the 17th umpiring error for the series and the ratio is 12-5 against the West Indies.

Of course, whether given or not, it would have made no difference to the outcome that was already a foregone conclusion. But it snuffed out the only bit of West Indian resistance.

After Nixon McLean's ridiculous run out in the over before lunch, Dillon stayed with Samuels for a further 40 minutes in at least sending the total into three figures. But his stay was always tenuous and, when Miller's off-break passed his optimistic drive and hit off-stump, only Courtney Walsh remained.

The great old fast bowler was given a warm and prolonged ovation on his way to the middle by the crowd of 7,960 for even his longevity would not bring him back for another Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Samuels has only just started his career but he is Jamaican and is fully aware of his famous countryman's unenviable record with the bat. Walsh had been with him just 10 minutes when, seeking his second half-century of the match with one stroke, he hoisted Miller into Jason Gillespie's safe hands at deep and wide midon to formalise the result.

While all of his more experienced and illustrious batting colleagues had been seemingly transfixed by Australia's relentless aggression and has succumbed meekly, Samuels played with complete ease and assurance, and plenty of style, in both innings. Sent out less than a month ago as Shivnarine Chanderpaul's replacement, he had only seven first-class matches and a highest score of 61 to his name. It seemed a boy had been sent on a man's mission. In his two Tests, he has been the man among several teammates who have been reduced to boys by the opposition. As in his first innings 35 in Adelaide and his unbeaten first innings 60 here, his shot selection was exemplary and chanceless.

His six fours, made during his two hours 10 minutes and 108 balls in the middle, were earned mostly by elegant, sweetly timed cuts and off-drives from both pace and spin. There was a meaty hook off the wicketless Glenn McGrath and a flick through midwicket off Jason Gillespie that was all Seymour Nurse.

As Steve Waugh noted afterwards, there must be more like him in the Caribbean who might be the answer to the wretched batting of recent times. Mike Findlay and company please copy.

Certainly, Samuels did not carry that shell-shocked demeanour of so many of the other batsmen. It manifested itself again yesterday in the dismissals of Sherwin Campbell and Jimmy Adams.

Campbell has seemed frozen in his movements all series and, after half-hour, edged the lively Gillespie to first slip with bat far from body. He had managed 6 off the 46 balls he received, an acceleration on the 5 he made from 62 balls in the first innings.

Next ball, Adams reached for one wide of off-stump and Mark Waugh gathered in the catch at second slip. It was the captain's second first ball dismissal and third 0 of the series, second of the match. They are statistics that even Brian Lara has been unable to avoid against these clinically efficient opponents.

Colin Stuart, the nightwatchman, comfortably outlasted Campbell and Adams but was deceived by a slower ball and lbw to give Gillespie the first six wickets in the innings. The names of Jim Laker and Anil Kumble and their all-10 in Tests were inevitably mentioned but Samuels and Jacobs soon scotched that talk. As it was, Gillespie got no more. But it didn't matter.

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