Darren Bravo’s resilience provides West Indies blueprint

West Indian no.3 Darren Bravo batted for more than six hours for 81 in the first innings in Melbourne, and that kind of application will be needed again in the second innings. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: He’s at it again in the second innings, and it’s a welcome sight in an otherwise disappointing series.

In all likelihood, Darren Bravo’s 81 in the West Indies’ first innings score of 271 in Melbourne will be absorbed into the annals of history as just another handy score in just another Test innings scorecard.

But in the immediate term, it should be viewed on repeat by every young batsman in the Caribbean and set as a standard. ‘If you want to be a Test batsman, and if you want to be a part of the West Indies resurrection, this is what you’ll need to show us you’re capable of’ should be the accompanying message..

Update: Further to my point about Darren Bravo’s application, it was pointed out to me today that he has the best record away from the Caribbean of all West Indies batsmen! It’s an extraordinary record when viewed alongside the names listed below..

West Indian batsmen, in Tests away from home (Source: CricInfo StatsGuru)

West Indian batsmen, in Tests away from home (Source: CricInfo StatsGuru)

Khawaja fitness and return no certainty, evidently

Usman Khawaja is helped from the field in Perth, during the Second Test against New Zealand last month. He’s battling to be fit for Boxing Day. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Thought you’d solved the Australian batting order mystery for Boxing Day? You’d have done well, with all the quotes and updates and selection statements made in the aftermath of Australia’s big First Test win over the West Indies in Hobart over the weekend.

All seemed to be heading towards a ‘Burns v Marsh’ showdown for the last spot in the order, with the confirmation that Usman Khawaja had been recalled to the Australian side for the Melbourne Test.

But developments over the last day or two make me wonder just how fit Khawaja actually is, and whether if a medical overrule is how the selectors will avoid what would undoubtedly be a tough decision..


Third Test, Melbourne: Day 1 – Watson extends the career, again

“This innings had the full set: out lbw, shortly after reaching a milestone, just before a break in play, and immediately after a useful partnership had been broken, leaving two new batsmen to start again.” Image: ABC Grandstand

The New Daily: If it was Chris Rogers playing the career-extending innings in Brisbane last week, on Boxing Day it was Shane Watson who found the timeliest of scores.

Watson raised his first Test fifty of 2014 just after Lunch, his highest score since making an unbeaten 83 against England in the Boxing Day Test of 2013. However, just when you thought he was set, he was out plumb LBW for 52, attempting to sweep Ravi Ashwin.

It was the archetypal Watson innings, therefore. It left the Watson fans proof that he was still capable of scoring runs when it mattered, while simultaneously, the detractors were lining up to say ‘see, I told you so’. Like most Shane Watson debates, both sides are correct to a degree.

Stumps, Day 1: AUSTRALIA 5/259 (S.Smith 72*, C.Rogers 57; Mohammed Shami 2/55, U.Yadev 2/69)

Second Test wrap: what we learned in Brisbane

Indian Captain MS Dhoni - might need to check the tape. Image via cricket.com.au

Indian Captain MS Dhoni – might want to check the tape. Image via cricket.com.au

The New Daily: Josh Hazlewood’s debut, Steve Smith’s captaincy, India’s whinging. There was plenty to take out of the second Test in Brisbane.

With Australia wrapping up a Test win within four days at the ‘Gabba, and racing out to a 2-0 series lead now heading to Melbourne on Boxing Day, the summer is off to the best possible start.

All eyes will now turn to the MCG, with injury concerns forcing more changes on the squad from Brisbane.

Queensland batsman Joe Burns has been called up for Boxing Day. Image: ABC Grandstand

Queensland batsman Joe Burns has been called up for Boxing Day. Image: ABC Grandstand

Mitchell Marsh has been ruled out of the Third Test with that hamstring injury, replaced for the Boxing Day Test by Queensland top order batsman, Joe Burns. Burns is one of the leading run-scorers in Sheffield Shield cricket this season.

The injury concerns have probably saved a few older players from a not unreasonable level of scrutiny and criticism, too. If all top order batsmen were fit and firing, there can be little doubt that Shane Watson and Brad Haddin would be under more pressure than they are.

Nevertheless, here are the lessons to take away from the Second Test.