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Six things we uncovered at Manuka

Australia's Clint McKay, left, congratulates teammate James Faulkner after the latter bowled Chris Gayle.

Australia's Clint McKay, left, congratulates teammate James Faulkner after the latter bowled Chris Gayle. Photo: Reuters

1: Chris Gayle is officially in a form slump. The modern-day master blaster has been far from his best since arriving back in Australia, which came on the back of a quiet Big Bash League campaign for the laidback West Indian. Scores of four, four and two in the first three games of this one-day international series have been disappointing – a far cry from the 146 he smashed off just 89 balls the last time he batted in Canberra three years ago. How much you can attribute to "back stiffness" is anyone’s guess.

2: When Kieron Pollard is hot in the field he’s hot. A week ago during the Prime Minister’s XI game at Manuka Oval, Pollard dropped an absolute sitter. But there was nothing easy about the two catches he took on the boundary to dismiss George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell. The first one, to dismiss Maxwell, was superb – leaping into the air right next to the boundary and hauling it in one-handed.

3: Shane Watson can bat. His century, on his return from a calf injury, was divine. He mixed brute power with exquisite stroke play and timing to bring up his ton at about a run a ball. Watson then unselfishly opened the shoulders and threw the willow at everything before falling for 122 off 111 balls. If he can bring the same sort of application to the Test arena, he’ll be an invaluable member of Australia’s top order in the big year of Test cricket ahead.

4: Cricket Australia’s "structured player management" rotation policy should be adhered to at all costs. Mitchell Starc came to Canberra on the back of consecutive five-wicket hauls in the last two ODIs in Perth. But on the flat Manuka pitch he struggled, no doubt due to fatigue caused by too much cricket. From his seven overs he was taken for 50 runs. As further proof CA’s policy is working, he came back after a spell to get his one-and-only wicket – proof rest does fix all problems.

5: Manuka Oval’s pitch should be renamed Canberra Avenue. The PM's XI match last week produced 643 runs from 99 overs, while Wednesday’s one-dayer amassed 619 from 97.3. It brings back memories of the Adelaide Oval 20 years ago where a drawn Test match was always guaranteed. Is it something that will hinder Cricket ACT’s dreams and hopes of hosting a Test in the future? The good news is it makes for great limited-overs cricket, which should bode well for the ACT in the future.

6: The much-maligned George Bailey has quickly become one of the most important members of this Australian one-day side. Fresh off an unbeaten century in Perth, Bailey dined out on the West Indies bowlers, smashing 44 runs off just 22 balls. He was 10 centimetres away from bringing up his 50, but for a brilliant one-handed catch by Kieron Pollard. Bailey also showed he wasn’t afraid to get physical when he ran through teammate James Faulkner while fielding. Faulkner came off second best of course and left the field with blood streaming from his mouth. Bailey is also highly regarded for his captaincy.

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