- Third Test, day five: As it happened
- Richie Benaud Medal struck in legend's honour
- O'Keefe, Marsh liven up dead match
A Test match that never knew quite how to finish, to end a Test summer that never quite got started. Nothing ventured by two captains hemmed in by weather and youth, and nothing gained. But a cameo by the Australian vice-captain, to provide Warner buffers at both ends of the journey from Brisbane to Sydney, served as a reminder of the game's purpose to entertain and give joy to its followers.
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David Warner entertains the small crowd with the fastest century at the SCG as the third Test against the West Indies petered out into a draw.
Speaking of entertainment, this will also be remembered as the summer when Test cricket's glow was eclipsed by the Big Bash League. Even the tawdry scandals have been cannibalised by the shorter game.
Time will tell whether BBL05's radiance will save cricket or hasten its demise, but for this summer at least the threat arrived as saviour. Imagine the past six Test matches played without a complementary BBL, and questions really would be asked about the summer game's relevance.
The high point of the competitive Test summer was an event that did not happen. Had Nathan Lyon been allowed to keep walking off the Adelaide Oval when he was out in Australia's first innings, a 1-1 trans-Tasman result might have ensued and more spice added to the pot for the return fixture.
The Adelaide Test match was the season's highlight, more for the sense of occasion, which was invigorating, than for the cricket, which was tentative on both sides. But the lowest-standard cricket brought the highest-standard contest. Cricket needed that, as much as it needed the day-night experiment to show the world that it is alert and alive.
Australia winning their series in straight sets, 2-0, 2-0, was no surprise when the opposition were so unprepared as to make each of the first Tests a gimme.
New Zealand improved quickly, and a fortnight after they went home, the trans-Tasman series was being remembered as fondly as if it were the original Calypso summer. The West Indians also matured considerably in the space of days. What could have created a memorable competitive summer would have been inviting both touring teams a month earlier and letting them play four state sides each.
Cricket is always trying to save itself by becoming shorter, as if having to apologise for its existence. This could have been a Test summer redeemed by more length, at least for the tourists.
Australia's performance continued to develop under Steve Smith, though the brains trust did not learn so much as confirm their hunches. The batsmen filled their boots against bowlers weakened by stone-hearted pitches. When the ball ducked about, those same batsmen looked vulnerable.
Usman Khawaja looked to be the long-term rising star, but more would have been known if he had batted in Adelaide.
As the meat-mincing trade of bowling fast chewed up Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and others, James Pattinson made a welcome return and Josh Hazlewood was the surprise iron man. Nathan Lyon is now nicknamed Greatest of All Time, but the more he bowls, the less tongue-in-cheek its ring. He might have slinked up into the pantheon of finger spinners, but now he is there he can stand with his head held high.
With ample runs, a bowling all-rounder was needed, and Mitchell Marsh was certainly that.
Peter Nevill got to bat as often as a youngest brother in a big family, but this heightened the opportunity to appreciate his wicketkeeping, which would be called crowd-pleasing if crowds were pleased by diligence, neatness, consistency and an unfailing eye for detail. Too often, wicketkeepers are judged by their batting, and circumstances allowed Nevill to be assessed by what he does best.
Truth be told, this is an Australian team in a process of steady regeneration. That is not only a matter of renewing personnel, with the need to replace so many years of lost experience. Of course that rebuilding continues. But when this summer is looked back on, it will be seen as a breather for Australian cricket, when the sport was still getting over the intensity of three Ashes and two Indian Test series, the death of Phillip Hughes, a home World Cup, and all of the controversies that have overheated cricket since 2013.
This was a quiet summer, enjoyable for those who like to watch positive batting, and a time for cricket, as much as the Australian Test team, to find its footing for a new era and to start a new phase in the permanent quest to win public love.
With positive batting and regenerating public appeal as the summer's keynotes, the last day's play was in tune. Those who were at the SCG, for a few hours' glorified centre-wicket practice, participated in fine voice and with as much enthusiasm as if bigger things were at stake.
After so much rain, the atmosphere had the sweetness of new green shoots. And David Warner's leaping celebration, on scoring the fastest Test match century in 136 years at the SCG, was as ebullient as all his others.
Cricket lives on this enthusiasm, from both sides of the fence.