SYDNEY: Australia have their eyes on regaining the top Test ranking as they set about retaining the Frank Worrell Trophy against the dispirited West Indies in Saturday’s second Test in Melbourne.
The Australians lie third on the ICC Test ladder, behind South Africa and India.
If South Africa lose their four-Test series with England which begins on Boxing Day then Australia will grab top spot if they can sweep the West Indies series 3-0.
That looks on the cards after the Windies were thrashed by an innings and 212 runs inside three days in the first Test in Hobart. They last won a Test in Australia almost 18 years ago.
Jason Holder’s West Indies have been pilloried as one of the worst touring teams to head Down Under in recent times and have struggled to be competitive in all their tour games, even against modest opposition.
“We know we’ve got a big Test series here, then against New Zealand, to achieve the number one status,” Australia vice-captain David Warner said.
“Things have to play into our hands as well with South Africa’s series against England. We’ve got a big job at hand, our goal is to be number one in all three formats.”
The dashing opener insisted complacency would not be an issue for Australia, despite the West Indies being forced to follow on in Hobart.
“It did look like they did go through the motions when we were batting on that (first) day, when we batted big,” Warner said.
“But it’s a new game. We’re all fired up and ready to go.”
The home side could make two changes with Usman Khawaja expected to return from missing the last two Tests with hamstring trouble, while newcomer Scott Boland may get his chance as a replacement for injured paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Khawaja has been sidelined since scoring 174 and 121 in the first two Tests against New Zealand last month and proved his fitness with an explosive 109 off 70 balls in the Big Bash League Twenty20 series last weekend.
The return of Pakistan-born Khawaja is expected to be at the expense of either Joe Burns or Shaun Marsh, who hit his highest Test score of 182 as Khawaja’s replacement in Hobart.
Darren Bravo, one of the Caribbean tourists’ few shining lights during the first Test, insists his side will be much better prepared for the Melbourne Cricket Ground showpiece on Boxing Day.
Bravo top scored with 108 in the West Indies’ first innings, while opener Kraigg Brathwaite contributed 94 after Australia skipper Steve Smith enforced the follow-on.
“When you’re not scoring runs it’s always difficult to pick yourself up,” Bravo said. “But I believe the guys have that sort of resilience in them.
“We’ve scored international hundreds already, we’ve proven we are definitely capable of playing at this level. The guys are really up for it. We’re really pumped up we’re much better prepared and we’re looking forward to it.”
The West Indies are considering recalling leg spinner Devendra Bishoo after he claimed two wickets against a Victoria XI last weekend.
“He bowled better,” coach Phil Simmons said. “There was a lot more drive in his deliveries and everything like that.”
Australia (from) – David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.
West Indies (from) – Kraigg Brathwaite, Rajendra Chandrika, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin, Jason Holder (capt), Kemar Roach, Carlos Brathwaite, Jerome Taylor, Devendra Bishoo, Jomel Warrican.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (RSA), Chris Gaffaney (NZL)
TV umpire: Ian Gould (ENG)
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)