Umar Akmal and Adrian Barath. Cricket's players of the week. Both scored centuries on their Test debut. Both in losing causes. And significantly, both at the age of 19.
Akmal scored 129 and 75 as Pakistan went down to New Zealand by 32 runs in an exciting fifth-evening finish at Dunedin, and I'll have more to say about him when the Pakistanis play in Australia in a month's time. Barath scored 104 out of a second-innings total of 187 as the West Indies crashed to an innings and 65 runs defeat against Australia inside three days at The Gabba, Brisbane.
Adrian Boris Barath became, at 19 years 228 days, the youngest West Indian to score a Test century (never mind on debut), breaking a 79 year-old record held by George Alphonso Headley. The last teenager to score a Test hundred against Australia was one Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar at Adelaide in 1992. A couple of stellar names for Barath to follow.
Barath's lone-hand hundred was a mature knock and the standout performance in a dismal SOS (Same Old Scene) performance by the West Indies, losing by an innings with more than two days to spare. Three-day Tests do as much damage to the long-form game as matches such as that in Ahmedabad last week which weren't even close to a result in five. I was secretly hoping on Saturday that Ricky Ponting would wilfully prolong the match and ignore the follow-on. He didn't, and of course that was the right decision.
For all my criticism of Ponting as a Test captain, it is worth noting that this victory was his 40th in 62 Tests at the helm, one short of his predecessor Steve Waugh (won 41 out of 57). Chris Gayle has no reason to start lusting over those stats. He showed no leadership in the Gabba Test, including that brief tonkfest just before tea on Day Two, and including the way he misused the new-fangled UDRS for his own lack of benefit.
In a team where experienced heads needed to live up to their responsibility, Shivnarine Chanderpaul's contribution reads more like a Richie Benaud soundcheck - 2 and 2. Denesh Ramdin and Kemar Roach came out of the game looking good, while Travis Dowlin - a consistent Guyanese batsman promoted during the WIPA industrial action in July - did not disgrace himself. If Sarwan is fit for the Adelaide Test starting on Friday, he will probably displace ex-Queenslander Brendan Nash.
Barring injury, Australia will be unchanged for Adelaide. Shane Watson will carry over his series batting average of 0.00, safe in the knowledge that Philip Hughes made a golden duck for NSW against Western Australia on Sunday.
Video highlights of Day Three of the Gabba Test from cricketaustralia.tv follow.
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