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Australia v West Indies third cricket Test: Why they won't declare and make a game of it

At last, we see a fifth day. All the Windies needed was nearly three days of rain.

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It seems fitting the first time a Test will go the distance in this horribly one-sided series, even the biggest cricket diehard will find it hard to care.

Cricket Australia has acknowledged as much, throwing the SCG gates open for Thursday's action in a bid to drag people through the turnstiles, but even that has proved to be a hard sell. After all, time is money.

This is, of course, not a reflection of the health of Test cricket but rather how little interest there is in a game that will reach its inevitable stalemate some time on Thursday afternoon.

Thought was given to abandon the Test and use the fifth day to stage an impromptu one-day international or Twenty20 fixture but it was not deemed feasible.

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There is a precedent. The first one-day international ever played was held at the MCG after the first three days were washed out. That was in 1971, a much different time to now when the needs of the broadcaster and commercial interests of CA's sponsors carry far more importance.

Then there is the logistical issue of re-picking teams and flying players to and fro at such short notice. At least the Windies would not have to look far to call in their best player. Andre Russell is in Sydney wearing the lime green of the Thunder.

A change in format would undoubtedly help the Windies, whose weaknesses are not as exposed in 50 overs, though they have played their best cricket of the tour in this Test.

The only chance this Test will produce a winner is if both captains agree to a double declaration, which South Africa and England did in 2000. It was later revealed to be a fix by then Proteas skipper Hansie Cronje.

Most likely, day five will be glorified centre-wicket practice for both sides. As one Cricket NSW official quipped, it could be wicketkeeper Peter Nevill's only chance to take a Test wicket.

Controversial figure: Disgraced South African captain Hansie Cronje.

Controversial figure: Disgraced South African captain Hansie Cronje.

Spare a thought for Stephen O'Keefe, who must be wondering what he has done wrong to upset the cricket gods. Now that he is in favour with selectors after being overlooked for so long, he has had a Test tour called off due to terrorism fears and nearly three days of his second Test washed out.

For all the changes the game has seen in recent years it remains at the mercy of the elements.

We can be thankful today's administrators have not followed the example of their predecessors from 1990 - the last time two full days of a Test were lost to rain in Australia.

A sixth day was scheduled, at the behest of the NSW Cricket Association - now known as Cricket NSW. That did nothing but prolong the boredom. The match still ended in a draw.

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