Australia’s batsmen were briefly discomforted by spin for a second time before rolling to an eight-wicket victory over the WICB President’s XI in the three-day tour match at the Three Ws Oval in Barbados.
The occasional leg breaks of Nkrumah Bonner produced some moments of unease for the visiting top order on the final morning as they closed in on a paltry target – captain Michael Clarke perished and Ricky Ponting also came close to losing his wicket before the finish. Ed Cowan built up his familiarity with the Caribbean with a tidy, unbeaten contribution.
Cowan, Peter Forrest, Shane Watson, Clarke and Ponting all spent a modicum of time in the middle as they acclimatised to the other side of the world, while the bowling attack of Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon also had reason to be content with their work on days one and two. However the hosts will not be entirely without optimism on the evidence of this fixture.
Watson and Cowan had been greeted by a pitch that had sweated overnight and changed perceptibly in its character, offering some bounce to the tall fast-medium of Jason Holder. The visitors were intent on wrapping up a slim target quickly, but Watson soon perished in the chase, pulling Holder to deep square leg.
Cowan was not middling everything and sliced one over second slip, while at the other end Clarke did not look particularly comfortable against Bonner. One legbreak would touch Clarke’s outside edge on its way through to the wicketkeeper, bringing Ponting to the crease for another spell in the middle ahead of the first Test. He played one slightly ungainly hook shot to the boundary from Holder, and edged the persevering Bonner narrowly short of slip, but otherwise looked in good trim as he and Cowan closed out the contest.
In the end, Australia had won comfortably enough, but not without giving West Indies some reason to harbour hope when the two sides join battle on Saturday.