For the first time in nearly seven years, two sides with a great history meet in Test cricket. That history has been sadly one-sided for a long time, but this is an overdue meeting for Australia and West Indies.
(Last five matches, most recent first)
West Indies: WWWDD
In the spotlight
Steven Smith has found his hands, feet, stance, grip…everything sounds as though it is working perfectly for him, as good as it has been since around 2016. It is a scary prospect for opposition bowlers because Smith has still averaged 61 in Tests since then, albeit the last couple of years have been more of a struggle. The signs were promising in the ODIs against England but he may have to be on his guard on a lively Perth pitch. Still, it feels like it could be a summer of runs for Smith.
This XI, confirmed by Australia, could have been picked weeks ago: Josh Hazlewood returns to the side, having missed the last four Tests due to requirements as per conditions in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and four Ashes Tests because of injury before that. Scott Boland will have to wait to build on his bowling average of 9.55.
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Brathwaite confirmed that Chanderpaul would make his debut and that Raymon Reifer was ruled out through injury. Beyond that, West Indies will name their side tomorrow. But the good news was that Blackwood and Jayden Seales were fine after brief scares during training on Monday. The likelihood is four quicks supported by Roston Chase’s offspin.
West Indies (possible): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), 2 Tagnarine Chanderpaul, 3 Nkrumah Bonner, 4 Kyle Mayers, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Joshua Da Silva (wk), 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Jayden Seales
Pitch and conditions
Perth. Hot. Pace. Bounce. Cracks. We’ll get some of that for sure, the first day is set to be 35 degrees, and there is a chance for all of them. The pitches for the T20 World Cup had plenty of life – the India vs South Africa contest was perhaps the best indicator, given the bowling attacks on display – although it is not quite as early in the season now. On the eve of the match, the curator said he had left 12mm of grass on the surface although that may get a trim before the toss. It is also worth noting Nathan Lyon’s excellent record at the Optus Stadium, where he has taken 14 wickets at 15.50 in two matches.
“I feel like there’s so many good things going on at the moment, especially this Test team [being] No.1 in the world. It’s disappointing sometimes the focus gets drawn to off-field issues, but it hasn’t really affected our team.”
Australia captain Pat Cummins tries to drag attention back to the cricket after distractions off the field
“Our long-form cricket has really developed. It’s really good signs to see a lot of our players actually developing at the rate we want them to develop. This is not going to be an easy tour. But…this is a tour that a lot of people make their name.”
Jason Holder on positive signs for West Indies