Lyon-hearted effort for a spinner on day one
Slow start for West Indies in third Test
The West Indies made a slow start on a day twice interrupted with rain as Australia look for a whitewash third win in the series.
Nathan Lyon has certainly been getting the kudos that once eluded him this summer. And his performances continue to back it up. He was on target from his first ball on day one, and made the most of a track that was more like the old SCG spinner-friendly wickets. In fact, the offie was brought on in only the seventh over of the match, pretty rare in this country, and seemed to relish the opportunity. His ball to dismiss Jermaine Blackwood was one of the best all summer, a sharp turner which Blackwood let go only to have his off stump rattled. And another vicious turner which kicked off a good length took Kraigg Braithwaite in the glove and not only removed the dangerman, headed towards a century, but gave Lyon his 100th Test wicket in this country. 2/61 from 31 overs probably didn't do him justice.
From the rank to the ridiculous
Marlon Samuels was already having a shocking series. On day one of the Third Test it became officially one of the worst visits to Australia a Test cricketer has made after his farcical run out. Coming to the crease with the West Indies in a decent position at 2/104, Samuels looked decidedly uncomfortable once again, his feet going nowhere. He survived 20 balls, scratching out a paltry four runs, before chopping Nathan Lyon to point and inexplicably setting off for a single. He then hesitated, stopped, and as partner Kraigg Braithwaite dropped his bat, turned and ran forlornly back to the strikers' end, keeper Peter Nevill having long whipped off the bails after taking Josh Hazlewood's return. Samuels shot daggers at Braithwaite, but the fault was his alone. Can things possibly get any worse for him?
O'Keefe bowls spin, but speedily
Steve O'Keefe may or may not be a long-term spinning option for Australia, but it's hard to think of a handier bowler should the over rate be a lagging a little. Blink and you might have missed the left-arm orthodox bowler's first over on day one. His first five balls were dots, and even when Kraigg Braithwaite took a single from the last behind square, the whole shebang weighed in at just on two minutes. Were he and Nathan Lyon to bowl the bulk of a day's cricket, 150 overs wouldn't be out of the question, let alone 90. It's something the West Indies might want to take on board as they continue to dawdle through their days in the field and fans continue to gravitate to the T20 version of the game.
Three forms, plenty of decent viewing
There's been plenty of debate about the three forms of cricket now part of the Australian summer stage, and their various pros and cons. And hardcore fans had a chance to weigh them up against each other over a 16-hour period if they were glued to their TV screens. First, there was Saturday night's record-breaking crowd for the BBL game at the MCG. Fast forward 12 hours and the Sydney Test began in front of the usual hordes on onlookers and a big TV audience. And when the heavens opened around 1.50pm, Channel 9 went to a one-day international highlights package, from Australia's memorable win over New Zealand at the MCG last March. All were good viewing, yes, even the supposed weak link of the trio at the SCG, where the West Indies, until Samuels' run out, were putting together a reasonable first innings.
Not dead just yet
Saturday night's massive MCG crowd had the alarm bells ringing again for the future of Test cricket, but if there are any prospective vultures out there, the first day of the Sydney Test didn't necessarily hand them a lot of ammunition. While the crowd of more than 32,000 was down on other recent first days in SCG Tests, it was more than have attended two BBL matches in Sydney over the past couple of weeks, the 29,104 rolled up for the Sixers' match against Melbourne Stars at the SCG on December 27 and the sell-out 21,500 crowd posted a night later at Spotless Stadium as Sydney Thunder hosted Adelaide. It was, however, down a fair amount on the 40,880 who attended the last time West Indies played an SCG Test in January 2001.