Australia v West Indies Tests
Warner adds spark to SCG draw
Warner scorches fastest Test ton at the SCG as sodden Test ends in inevitable draw
Andrew Ramsey at the SCG
7 January 2016, 11:48 PM AEST
David Warner added some belated lustre to a bleak week after the West Indies are believed to have declined Australia's approach to manufacture a final-day run chase to add some interest to the rain-ruined third Test at the SCG that ended in a lifeless draw.
Warner, the only batsman in an Australia top-order that has gorged on lacklustre West Indies bowling not to have scored a century in the lop-sided series, warmed up for next week's ODI series against India by blazing his way to his 16th Test ton off just 82 balls.
It was the fastest Test century (in terms of balls faced) the SCG has hosted, but given the fact it came in what was nothing more than a centre-wicket net session without the nets it's doubtless there has been one that carried less meaning.
Watch: Warner scorches fastest SCG ton
Surprisingly, given the excesses that have been afforded by the West Indies bowlers of recent times it was the left-hander’s first Test century against the once mighty Caribbean nations, and earned him the honour of Man of the Match.
Adam Voges, who was not required to bat in a match that saw just 12 wickets but hundreds of millimetres of rain fall, became the inaugural recipient of the Richie Benaud Medal as Player of the Series that Australia won 2-0.
Quick single: Richie Benaud medal minted for West Indies series
It is understood Australia captain Steve Smith held a discussion with his rival skipper Jason Holder prior to the final day resuming at 11.45am in which Smith floated a proposal that would have seen the tourists declare at their overnight total of 7-248 on which they had been marooned since day two.
The proposal, which the West Indies are believed to have politely declined, might have seen Australia forego their first innings on the understanding that the tourists then pushed on quickly to set Australia a fourth-innings run chase of between 340 and 370 from around 70 overs remaining.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 7, 2016
Despite the perception that surrounds contrived declarations in the wake of the notorious deal struck by the late South African captain Hansie Cronje with England’s Nasser Hussain to fast-track a rain-affected Test at Centurion in 2000, forfeiting an innings is legal within the game’s laws.
A spokesman for the Australia team was unable to confirm that there had been any informal discussions between the two captains, but the decision by Holder to continue his team’s first innings on the Test's fifth morning raised the ire of ex-Test great Shane Warne.
"It's a real shame the West Indies have taken this approach," Warne said during his commentary stint on the Nine Network today.
"If you want to improve and get better, you need to get in those situations where you can win or lose a game.
"It would have been a great opportunity for them to try and defend with the ball and try to bowl Australia out - because Australia would have kept going until the end of play, trying to win."
As it was, the nonsensical nature of a game that had no chance of producing a result continuing on throughout a meaningless final day just became more and more apparent.
After the start of the day’s play was delayed by almost two hours because of more light rain, it took less than an hour and half for Australia’s bowlers to claim the final three West Indies wickets with former skipper Denesh Ramdin top scoring with a painstaking 69 in almost three hours of batting.
Watch: West Indies dismissed for 330
That spanned all five days of the match.
At the fall of the final wicket, with the SCG enjoying a burst of sunshine not seen throughout the first four days of a sodden new year, the players who had been confined to their respective dressing rooms for the best part of three days returned to said sanctuary for a 40-minute lunch break.
When they returned, it was immediately obvious how the Australians planned to approach the remaining 53 overs with Warner and Joe Burns raising their 50-run opening stand from just 62 balls, of which the former plundered 40.
Warner’s 50 came from 42 balls when he thumped spinner Jomel Warrican beyond the wide long-on boundary for the first of two sixes, and in the 16th over the century opening stand was posted at which point Burns chipped a catch to mid-on to be dismissed for 26.
The sight of all-rounder Mitchell Marsh coming through the gate to bat at number three confirmed the remaining overs were good only for batting practice given he had been deprived of opportunities and runs in the series to date.
Watch: Lyon brings 'Jeff' to the party
And his lack of match time was obvious, as he struggled to score freely while Warner careered his way to a hundred that he celebrated with his trademark leap and which was applauded warmly by the crowd that had taken advantage of the day’s free admission.
And for the most part, got their money’s worth.
The final footnote of futility was applied when a day, that could have been extended to 6pm had there been a meaningful result in the offing, was prematurely closed at 4.50pm in bright sunshine with Australia 2-176.
A decision that came about, unlike the manner in which the pointless day started, through agreement between the two captains.
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