Justice for ‘Justice for JL’ crew, and Sir Frank Worrell’s rear end

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After so much white-ball nonsense to begin the summer, it was finally time to move on to something more substantial.

Don’t get me wrong, a bit of T20 thumping can be fun, and congratulations to whoever ended up winning it, that’s for sure: but now it was time for some proper cricket. Some Test cricket.

Cartoon villainy

Grade: F

Pat Cummins won the toss and decided to have a bat, only to watch David Warner lose his wicket early having a carefree thrash outside off stump.

It was as if he expected Socceroo Harry Souttar to swoop in from nowhere to salvage a heroic last-ditch defence of his wicket.

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But after Warner’s dismissal, we were mostly just treated to Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith serenely batting throughout the opening day.

Ultimately, a disappointing start to this Test. We were promised cartoon villainy with the brainwashed Perth public avenging Justin Langer by screaming incessant abuse at the backstabber Cummins and his woke agenda.

Instead, it mostly seemed to be a gentle crowd enjoying a pleasant day at the cricket.

Drawing level with Bradman

Grade: C

Smith and Labuschagne continued their partnership on the second day of the Test, with Marnus reaching a double century before the West Indies finally stopped dropping the chances he gave them.

Smith, meanwhile, brought up his 29th Test hundred, drawing level with Sir Donald Bradman – in just 75 more innings – before converting it into a double.

While they’re now level on centuries, however, Smith has nine times as many wickets as the old fool. Advantage Devereux.

Smith’s new technique for celebrating a Test century is also much improved, as detailed split-screen imagery from the television broadcasters showed.

On one side, you could see him raising the bat to the crowd after scoring his ton at Perth Stadium. It stood in stark contrast to the freeze frame image of him angrily gesticulating at Usman Khawaja after being run out earlier in the year.

The difference in celebration technique was obvious to even the most casual of cricket fans. More side-on. Less annoyed about being run out. Had actually scored a century.

A lot to like from Smith. All the hard work paying off.

Living Chumbawumbas

Grade: A

In reply to Australia’s 4/598 declared, the West Indies’ Kaptain Kraigg Brathwaite and debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul were the pick of the visiting batters.

With a half-century apiece, they helped the visitors to a total of 283, as they were bowled out late on the third day.

Chanderpaul – the son of legendary batting stance Shivnarine – was heroic. He copped deliveries in the nuts that left him on the ground, gasping. He swayed away and lost his footing. He was hit and dropped to his knees.

But young Chanderpaul persevered through all these Can-barely-standerpaul moments, each time rising back to his feet like some kind of living Chumbawumba.

Australia spent most of the third day slowly prying the West Indies’ batters from their crease. If by ‘prying’, you sometimes mean ‘having Cameron Green scone them on the head and forcing them to be concussion-substituted from the game’.

It was the first time that Green had a chance to be involved in the match after missing out on all the batting fun. After sconing Nkrumah Bonner out of the match, he removed his substitute Shamarh Brooks by more traditional means, having him caught behind.

The Bonner/Brooks concussion combination fell just one short of a fine half-century (16/33), as Green got his men.


Grade: A

While all this was going on, security staff at Optus Stadium were removing a banner that read ‘Justice for JL’.

Why these young fans were so keen on finally bringing the former Australian coach to justice – presumably for that time he kicked over a bin during the Headingley Test in 2019 – remains a mystery.

But they weren’t to be deterred, chanting ‘We want Justin!’ over and over. Sensibly, Langer stayed safely in his commentary box, away from this braying mob eager to inflict who knows what punishment on him. 

Eventually, somebody told them to ‘shut up’ and they did, which I’m pretty sure is also how the January 6 Capitol riots were dispersed.

But they did have their banner confiscated, which meant the next day they were back wielding a ‘Justice for ‘Justice for JL’ banner-wielders’ banner.

Sir Frank Worrell’s Rear End

Grade: B+

Leading by 315, Australia elected to bat a second time, searching for quick runs on the fourth day.

Labuschagne obliged, adding a century in the second innings to go with his double in the first.

During the lunch break, Pat Cummins declared. Declared he wasn’t fit to bowl, that is, thanks to a ‘quad niggle’ (ie, a niggle with four sides). But the panicky umpires only listened to the first part of the Australian captain’s utterance and the West Indies batted again, chasing 498 for victory.

Once again, Chanderpaul showed admirable composure against the Australian attack. Indeed, the only time the young opener looked out of his depth facing an Australian was during a before-play interview with Mark Howard on Fox Cricket at the beginning of the fourth day. Fair enough, too. 

It was Brathwaite, however, who was once again the hero for the West Indies, batting throughout the second and third sessions of the fourth day to bring up a century and see the Windies to 3/192 at stumps.

But Cummins’ return to the field set up the prospect of a thrilling final day captain-on-captain showdown, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the time travel face-off between twin Captain Americas in Avengers: Endgame, and raised the compelling question: who would be Sir Frank Worrell’s ass?

Instead, Cummins gave the bowling a miss on the fifth day, allowing Nathan Lyon to instead spin Australia to victory.

The off-spinner took six wickets as Australia won by 164 runs, proving once again that if you’re a victim of Lyon – a goatee, if you will – then you have to take it on the chin.

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