Nathan Lyon, who played in the three-wicket victory in Barbados in the first Test, could be partnered by left-arm spinner Michael Beer as the Australians look to wrap up the three-match series. “Over the last two seasons it’s been relatively low-scoring but also very, very spin-friendly. The temptation to play two spinners could be there,” said Australia coach Mickey Arthur.
“You never write that off until you have a look at the conditions. I guess we’ve just got to look at conditions, then decide how best we’re going to get 20 wickets.” Lyon took just one wicket in the three-wicket win over West Indies in Barbados, while Beer has only played one Test. That was against England in Sydney in January 2011, where his match figures were an embarrassing one for 112.
Arthur further praised Michael Clarke after the skipper declared the team’s first innings at 43 runs behind the West Indies before pushing for victory in the Bridgetown gloom on Wednesday. Arthur said: “Michael needs to take all the plaudits for that because it was a brave decision that worked out for us. Tactically he is very good. He’s very positive, a very aggressive captain.”
The last time that Australia played at Queen’s Park Oval nine years ago, Ricky Ponting was man of the match. He scored 206, his highest Test score at the time, as Australia scored a massive 4-576. It was a high-scoring match that Australia went on to win by 118 runs. Of the current squad, Ponting is the only one to have played Test cricket at the ground.
Preparations were hindered on Friday when afternoon rain meant Australia had to cancel their training session, although the West Indies managed to complete theirs before the rain arrived. The player that the West Indies would surely have loved to have selected is Sunil Narine. The Queen’s Park Oval is his home ground and the off-break variations that allowed him to take 34 first-class wickets at an average of just 11.88 brought him to the attention of the selectors.
Unfortunately for the hosts, he won a lucrative Indian Premier League contract and, like Marlon Samuels, is unavailable. Instead, they have called up off-spinner Shane Shillingford, who last played Test cricket in November 2010 before his bowling action was deemed illegal. His 14 Test wickets have cost 56.78 runs apiece.
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