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WI in Australia - Preview
26 Oct 2005
By: Liam Camps

It is never an easy task for any team to tour Australia, but for the West Indies these days, it is a far greater challenge than most. Shivnarine Chanderpaul's team of perennial underachievers will face the World Champions on their home turf and hungry for victory.

Contract disputes aside for the moment, the big guns of the Caribbean return to square off against the greater ammunition of Australia. A full-strength West Indies side thankfully tours, but the nagging fear is that it shall not affect the predicted series result.

Australia rebounded superbly from their Ashes defeat to sweep the much-hyped Super Series, and did so with clearly expressed enthusiasm. It is evident that this is a team intent on re-enforcing a fading reputation as the best team in the world. They shall not take the West Indies lightly, despite the standing as poor opposition in terms of statistical record.

One word and one name resound for the West Indies, however, giving hope toward the miraculous. The word is "talent" and the name is Brian Charles Lara.

There is no shortage of talent in West Indies cricket. The question, as always, will be to what extent that talent manifests as results in the upcoming series. In the past it has too frequently been a situation of promise but no fulfilment. How far will that change, and to which extreme will the change tend?

Improvements were evident earlier this year, as a third-string team competed well in Sri Lanka, though whitewashed 2-0. Notably, the pace bowlers were accurate and penetrative, and the fielding superb. Should such spirit be expressed by a frontline West Indies team, any interest in this series will prove valid.

As for the name, Brian Lara was not only voted by the Australians to be the most dangerous batsman in world cricket, but stands in the opinions of many around the globe as the best. He is a rare talent, with the potency to near win a game on his personal merit. As per usual, the demands will be intense, and though Lara has performed countless times in the past against the Australians, it has always been a challenge.

In essence, this is a story about a West Indian team that will hopefully dare to shine. A region with a cricketing history of greatness now finds itself struggling to pose reasonable competition. As fate and the matchmakers would have it, the team they oppose stands at the other end of the spectrum.

In recent years, Australia has reached the pinnacle of success, achieving near perfection at times. The Ashes series humbled such lofty reputations, and the public feared it to be the beginning of the end. The mission of captain Ricky Ponting is to prolong the glory as far as possible, and do so in convincing fashion.

He leads an imposing army, centred around two legendary players. Glenn McGrath has more wickets than any fast bowler to play the game, and Shane Warne has snared more than them all. The combination is deadly, and whilst Australia has recently lacked quality support for the pair, the likes of Stuart MacGill and Brett Lee will be keen to change the fact.

The preview sights a battle of potential versus performance, youth versus experience, Lara versus McGrath, and Bennett King versus John Buchanan. If not for the widespread predictions of a whitewash to the advantage of Australia, the matchup would appear to be epic, if not in interest alone.

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