Australia is 1-89 after 28 overs after winning the toss and batting in the Pink day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval, with Usman Khawaja (50*) and Marnus Labuschagne (13*) at the crease.
Khawaja brought up his 50 just before the dinner break in an innings that saw him pass 1000 runs for the calendar year as the West Indies were slammed for some odd tactics in the first session.
Brendon Julian was critical of West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite for using six bowlers, including spinner Roston Chase as first change in the first session of the Test.
“I don’t think there has been clear enough direction from Kraigg Brathwaite the captain,” Julian said.
“There has been too many changes. Bowlers bowling at different ends. Spinner on early.
“That is unsettling for the side, especially the first session and the first hour of a Test match.
“You lose the toss and you are bowling. You have tried all those bowlers. I mean it has only been an hour and a half.
“Chase was their third bowler used. Three overs 0-20 with a deep point and a deep square-leg. You can’t do it. It has been all over the shop.”Earlier Josh Hazlewood was ruled out of the second Test against the West Indies, with Australia winning the toss and electing to bat first at Adelaide Oval.
Cricket Australia confirmed Hazlewood was suffering “general soreness”, with veteran Queensland paceman Michael Neser replacing him in the Australian starting XI for the pink-ball Test.
It came after skipper Pat Cummins was ruled out of the day-night Test due to injury with Ashes hero Scott Boland earning a long-awaited call up.
David Warner was the first wicket to fall on Thursday afternoon, edging behind for 21 in the ninth over.
After slapping West Indies paceman Alzarri Joseph for a couple of boundaries, Warner slashed at wide delivery, only managing to feather the pink Kookaburra through to the wicketkeeper.
To the surprise of many, West Indies spinner Roston Chase was brought into the attack after just 40 minutes in Adelaide.
Khawaja feasted on the tweaker’s bowling on the slow wicket, with Chase leaking 20 runs from three overs before the drinks break.
“That’s rubbish,” former Test batter Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket.
“That’s not good enough.
“He should not be bowling now.”
Australian cricket legend Adam Gilchrist continued: “They were pretty scrappy overs, to put it nicely.”
The West Indies were dealt a frustrating injury blow moments after the drinks break, with debutant Marquino Mindley leaving the field clutching at his hamstring.
Skipper Kraigg Brathwaite, a part-time off-spinner, brought himself into the attack after just 18 overs.
“I can’t remember seeing so early in a Test match a cause that is so obviously lost,” commentator Gerard Whateley said on SEN.
Neser had only just been added to Australia’s Test squad this week after Cummins struggled through the first Test in Perth with quad soreness.
Cummins was unable to bowl in the second innings at Perth Stadium, forcing Australia’s other quicks, including Hazlewood, to take-on an extra workload.
While stand-in captain Steve Smith suggested Cummins was fit to play, his selection was deemed too much of a risk given the chance of him going down again just before a three-Test series against South Africa.
It opens the door back to Queensland veteran Neser, who has long been one of the top fast bowlers in the Sheffield Shield, yet only has one Test appearance to his name.
Last year at the Adelaide Oval, Neser took two wickets at 30.50 and was largely outperformed by Jhye Richardson and Mitchell Starc.
He’s been back in top form at domestic level this season, taking 24 wickets at 14.50 across the first five matches.
Meanwhile, selectors resisted the temptation to promote West Australia tearaway Lance Morris to Australia’s XI, having also been called up this week.
The 24-year-old has been making waves at domestic level with his sheer speed – clocked at 153km/h last season – a tantalising prospect for Australia.
Morris, nicknamed the ‘Wild Thing’, was seen in the Adelaide Oval nets on Wednesday putting his best foot forward by terrorising Cameron Green with his speed.
Nonetheless, the opportunity has come too early for Morris, who only has 18 first class games under his belt.
Australia legend Mark Waugh said he was surprised by the decision given Morris could have given the hosts a point of difference.
“I thought they might’ve went with him ahead of Neser given that he’s got that extra pace. (Scott) Boland and Neser are a similar sort of pace,” Waugh said on Fox Cricket. “It would’ve been tempting (to pick Morris). They’ve brought him into the squad so he’s obviously on the radar which is a good sign for morris.
“150km/h under lights – he would’ve been a handful.”
Neser is Australia’s second change from the first Test with Scott Boland replacing Cummins.
Warner, who on Wednesday released a blistering statement withdrawing his appeal against a Cricket Australia leadership ban, last posted three figures in Test cricket in January 2020 against New Zealand, a frustrating 1070-day wait for someone with such a commanding record.
Speaking to The Follow On Podcast from Fox Cricket, Australian legend Allan Border said Warner may be “overthinking” things.
“With one-day cricket and Twenty20 cricket, it looks like he just goes out there and plays the ball on its merits,” he said.
“He’s going to be naturally aggressive, so maybe he’s trying to be overly aggressive – that’s what it seems to me. He’s a bit more agitated at the crease than he normally is when he’s in peak form.
“Maybe he just needs to take a deep breath and just ‘see it hit it’ type scenario. Don’t muddle up because it’s a Test match.
“It’s also not a red ball coming at him this time, don’t forget, it’s a pink one. It shouldn’t hold any great fears for him because he has had some success in those pink ball tests.
Border said Warner’s approaching retirement, something the combative left-hander has himself acknowledged, could be playing a factor in his mindset.
“He’s got a lot of experience and I think what happens as you get older and you’re getting close to the end – and he’s sort of acknowledged that – maybe you start overthinking things when the final day is going to pop up.”
The world’s top-ranked side head into this week’s clash with an ominous record in pink ball Tests, having won all nine they have contested — six of them at Adelaide Oval.
The West Indies have their own injury worries, with top-order batsman Nkrumah Bonner suffering a concussion in Perth. It is unclear whether he will be fit to play this week.
Their pace attack is also struggling, with Kyle Mayers (shoulder strain) unable to bowl in the Perth second innings, while Kemar Roach limped off with a hamstring niggle. Jayden Seales has also been battling knee pain.
Anderson Phillip is the first-choice back-up bowler but the uncapped Marquino Mindley could also play after arriving in Adelaide from his homeland on Tuesday as cover.
“You’ve still got to stay positive,” West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick told reporters.
“We are playing the best team in the world, and we just want to grind and fight and stay in the fight as long as possible.”
David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith (c), Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland
West Indies squad XI
Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Shamarh Brooks, Jermaine Blackwood, Devon Thomas, Jason Holder, Joshua Da Silva (wk), Roston Chase, Alzarri Joseph, Anderson Phillip, Marquino Mindley
Recent form (most recent first)
West Indies LWWWD