Australia’s miserable T20 series in the Caribbean has mercifully come to an end with a 16-run loss in the final match in St Lucia which featured one of the greatest catches ever taken.
An insane Fabian Allen catch on the boundary dismissed Aaron Finch, capping off a disappointing series with the bat for the Aussie skipper.
Any momentum from Australia’s last-start win counted for little as the bowlers were blasted all over the park by the Wests Indies’ top order as the hosts posted 8/199 to win the series 4-1.
Evin Lewis was the star, plundering 79 off 34 deliveries, including nine sixes, while five other batsmen reached double figures as Australia’s bowlers were treated with disdain.
Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Swepson were particularly expensive, while Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and the ever-improving Mitchell Marsh kept it tight and combined for seven wickets.
The Aussies would have been happy chasing 200 given the West Indies only managed 30 runs from the final five overs, but they were always on the backfoot from the moment Josh Philippe was dismissed in the first over.
The rest of the top order all made contributions, but an all-too familiar collapse cost them any chance of victory after established batsmen Finch and Moises Henriques both fell in the tenth over.
Henriques was run out by a direct hit just three deliveries after Finch was miraculously caught one-handed on the rope by Fabian Allen who had to stretch a long way to his left.
Fabian Allen, What are you doing? 😨
That is an insane catch 🙌#WIvAUSpic.twitter.com/tzkMEfywEE
The tail wagged but it wasn’t enough as Australia finished 9/183.
“I think there are some guys there (in the middle order) without a huge amount of international experience, so when you’re trying to stamp your authority on a game when you’re trying to find your feet in international cricket, it can be tough at time,” Finch said.
“I’m not too critical of them. There was bit of experience at the top order and we didn’t give them the best platform.”
The West Indies won all but one match of the series. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP)Source:AFP
In a well-beaten side, Mitch Marsh was easily one of the players of the series as his international stocks continue to soar.
With a number of first-choice batters rested, Marsh moved up the order and took his chance with three fifties and a series-high 219 runs to go with eight wickets.
He was solid with the ball again on Saturday, picking up 2-12 including the big wicket of Lewis, while he also used his cricket smarts to move around the wicket to dismiss Lendl Simmons.
Marsh then added 30 with the bat at a strike rate of 200 before he smashed a full-blooded drive back to Andre Russell.
“It’s the best form I’ve ever seen him in with the bat,” Perth Scorchers teammate Andrew Tye said.
World cup worries
Winning on the road was always going to be a challenge given the number of stars missing, but this was not the warmup Australia needed heading to the World Cup in the UAE and Oman, especially against a team they will face in the group stage.
Australia has always struggled in the T20 arena, and they showed little to dispel those concerns throughout the series as they struggled to execute plans with the ball and showed a lack of composure with the bat.
They’ll have a chance to arrest their white ball woes with a three-game ODI series starting next week, although Finch may be in doubt after he was seen limping between the wickets in Australia’s run chase and had ice on his knee.
Aaron Finch (R) of Australia and Nicholas Pooran (L) of West Indies watch during the 4th T20I between Australia and West Indies at Darren Sammy Cricket Ground, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, on July 14, 2021. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP)Source:AFP
Finch in a pinch
Skipper Aaron Finch is in doubt for Australia’s upcoming ODI series against the West Indies after he twisted a knee in the field during the 16-run loss in the fifth and final T20 on Saturday.
The opening batsman had a mild knee complaint last week but fully recovered from the niggle to lead his side in every game of the 4-1 series loss.
Finch limped while running between the wickets before he was spectacularly caught on the boundary by Fabian Allen. Physios are expected to assess the injury in the next 48 days with the team set to travel tomorrow.
Matthew Wade is the likely option to captain the ODI team should Finch be ruled out.
The injury setback is the latest hit for an Aussie team that struggled in all facets of the game against a side that was match fit after recent series against South Africa and Sri Lanka.
There were few positives for Justin Langer’s men, but Mitch Marsh continues to grow after a slow start to his international career that saw him heavily criticised.
Marsh posted the three highest scores of his international T20 career in the series and also picked up eight wickets as he relished the added responsibility of batting in the top three.
Even with a stack of top talent such as Steve Smith, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell expected to return for the World Cup later in the year, Marsh has shown he deserves to keep his spot on the back of career-best form.
“He’s grown into how new role at number three, taken it on board and really flourished. I’ve never seen him execute so well with the ball,” Australian quick, and Perth Scorchers teammate, Andrew Tye said.
“He’s put a lot of hard work in behind the scenes on his bowling and he’s learning new tricks as he tries to become that proper all-rounder, instead of having that one area that lets him down.
“It’s the best form I’ve ever seen him in with the bat. I’ve seen it plenty of times first-hand the power that he’s got when playing for the Scorchers.
“To see him consistently put in performances on the board for Australia is a sight for sore eyes, and it’s everything we’ve known he’s been able to do for years.
“Now we just hope he can continue to do it.”
Tye stood up in his only appearance of the series. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP)Source:AFP
BBL stars bashed
Andrew Tye has defended the Big Bash League and believes it’s the perfect stepping stone to develop local talent for international cricket.
It comes after a weakened Australian side was humbled 4-1 by the West Indies, with a number of BBL stars failing to stake their claims with a host of international calibre stars rested for the T20 series.
Tye picked up three wickets in his only appearance of the series, but guys like Josh Philippe – the BBL player of the tournament last season – failed to fire, with 14 runs from three innings.
“I think it definitely is preparing people for international cricket,” he said.
“It always will be a step up from whatever domestic competition you’re playing in, because going into international cricket is always the next level.
“If you look at the performances we’ve had out of the Big Bash players that have deserved their spots, now it’s just about having a bit of time to get used to international cricket and finding their feet so they can get the confidence they have in Big Bash into international cricket.
“I think we’ll be fine.”
Australia’s lack of cricket was exposed in the West Indies, but Tye is confident they’ll find their groove before the T20 World Cup begins in October in the UAE and Oman.
How they adapt to the oppressive conditions in the Middle East will be key, and that will be helped greatly should Australian players be allowed to rejoin their Indian Premier League franchises when the tournament resumes on September 19.
However, that remains in limbo because cricketing bodies will be wary of releasing their players to domestic competitions as the world continues the fight against Covid.
“Playing in the conditions in Abu Dhabi, Dubai etc before the World Cup is definitely a benefit for the second half of the IPL,” the Rajasthan Royals quick said.
“Whether or not that fits in with any plans that Cricket Australia have for us or their preparation for the players – if they want us playing together somewhere or if they’re going to try to organise a series somewhere – then I’m not sure.
“That’s probably just a wait and see to see what domestic competitions want to do and what CA want us to do in our best interests.”
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