Despite the Boxing Day Test being a week ago, I am finally over the snore fest that was and ready to put my thoughts down.
It was my first Boxing Day test. As a purist that has watched it religiously for the more years than I can remember, day one was a little disappointing.
I think all the contributing factors were pretty much out of the hands of the organisers. It started with the rain, which for me and my crew of 10 was a little blessing in disguise. Most of us had been on a 6am flight from Brisbane and after a heavy Christmas Eve/Christmas Day double, the extra time afforded by the rain was perfect to drop our bags, stretch our legs and build a plan.
Incredibly we got there just as Warner got out. If I had known what the rest of the day held I would have been more disappointed at the time. It turns out Warner’s 23 (12) was pretty much the most exciting part of the day until the third session when Bay 13 took it upon themselves to get the place going.
There had been plenty made of the Windies effort in the Hobart Test in the lead up, and there didn’t look like much hope of getting past day three. The real pessimist would joke stumps on day two. Watching it unfold on day one, my feelings mirrored many previous observations that the Windies just lack some bowlers. Taylor isn’t too bad and I like Holder as first change, he seems dependable to build pressure. It certainly doesn’t mean much if Roach is throwing pies and everyone else is going at the easiest four runs an over you can imagine.
My biggest irk for day one was actually watching Roach. I have no clue what’s going on behind the scenes with him, but there is no doubt that currently he isn’t up to test standard. For an Aussie, who paid for flights, tickets and the rest, it felt like a smack in the face watching him drag his arse around the field like it was under 12’s and he was missing out on a birthday party. This is one of our most prestigious sporting events. I feel like participants should almost receive a special Boxing Day cap just to mark the occasion, and this bloke is just gifted the game time. Get stuffed.
I had taken four cricket junkies (including myself), two Frenchman and four ladies (one a cricket fan, the others would politely be classified as not cricket fans) to day one and I can safely say that Bay 13 saved the day. The commencement of the traditional ‘Beer Snake’ competition gave the crowd and players something to watch. While it happens at every test, there was some extra oumf in this one. The day had been as boring as any I’ve been too. To watch the slow trickle of people getting arrested/evicted certainly put a smile on my face and the rest of my team for the afternoon. Thanks Bay 13.
As for day two, well there was obviously less ‘tourists’ (read people who don’t give two hoots about cricket) It was slightly pleasing to watch an Aussie captain score a Boxing Day test century, but while I’m being honest, it was a pretty hollow feeling. I felt like all the century makers should have an astrix next to their name. Like they were runs made on tour, but it was against a local XI.
I don’t want be seen questioning Steve Smith’s quality, but the term flat track bully will stick until he does it in some serious conditions. In a previous article I had said that when he went over for the Ashes to go toe to toe with Joe Root, he really needed a Steve Waugh like innings to cement his reputation. Unfortunately, just when the team needed him in the fourth test he decided to chase a wide one from Broad and hit it straight to Stokes at point… A perfectly set trap. Maybe a green tinged seemer in New Zealand will be his chance.
Overall, the thing I have taken away from the Boxing Day test is that this Windies team is more than aware of where they stand and what they need to do. It was the first time since 2012 that they had batted past the 80 over mark in both innings. They showed some good fight and from all reports threw some great banter on the field.
I hope that in five years we are looking at Jason Holder as a captain and praising how far he has brought this team. While right now I’m not convinced he is a captain, I am convinced he has the fight in him to at least show the way forward.