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Steve Smith disappointed as West Indies reject offer to set up Australian run-chase

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A disappointed Steve Smith revealed West Indies counterpart Jason Holder rejected a proposal to push for a result on the final day of the rain-affected third Test, saying the tourists "weren't up for the challenge".

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Australian captain says he offered the West Indies a "generous" run-chase "but unfortunately they didn't come to the party".

The match finished in a predictable draw on Thursday, leaving the hosts as 2-0 series winners, but the afternoon could have panned out very differently had Holder taken up Smith's offer of conjuring a fourth-innings Australian run-chase.    

"Unfortunately they didn't come to the party," the Australian captain said. "We offered him [an Australian run chase of 370 in 70 overs] which I thought was pretty generous. It'd take some very good batting to get that on a day five SCG wicket. He said 'give me five minutes' and went over to their team and they had a little huddle and chat or whatever they were doing. And he said their boys weren't up for the challenge. That was unfortunate."

After two full days that were washed out the West Indies resumed their first innings on 7-248 after another rain delay and according to the scenario devised by the Australians the tourists would have had seven overs to bludgeon 121 runs and set up the manufactured pursuit. The crowd of 6865 would likely have swelled with a genuine contest back on but it was not to be. As it turned out the a David Warner century led Australia to 2-176 from only 38 overs before a Smith declaration brought a close to the game. 

"They would have had to declare this morning, I would have declared 0-0 and then bowled lob-ups for seven or eight overs or whatever it is," Smith said. "We want to try and win every game we play and today was a perfect opportunity to set the game up for a good chase and for the fans that stayed out this afternoon.


"For us that would have potentially been me bowling with three slips and two gullies and leaving every man up for them to try and hit as many as they can to try and make sure they left 370 off 70 as promised to them. No one really wants to see a draw, they want to see a good, exciting cricket and teams winning. We were willing to give them 70 overs on a day five-wicket and we were going to go after the runs. It was disappointing we couldn't get a game in and have a good game this afternoon."

While the West Indies players ultimately voted and knocked back Smith's offer, it was first run past match officials. The impact of such a contrived run chase - forcing a potential result when a draw was otherwise the inevitable outcome - would have also affected betting markets. However, Australian coach Darren Lehmann resolved that it was all above board.     

"I spoke to 'Boof', who read through the rules who said you're allowed to do that kind of thing. That was on our cards today and as I said unfortunately they didn't come to the party," Smith said. 

Holder said on Thursday night setting up a spectacle for crowds on the final day wasn't his priority. "(Smith) came to us and made an offer. I just went back to the team and we thought at this stage of our development it wasn't the best thing for us," Holder said. "We had (Denesh) Ramdin who was scoring well and looking well, so just give him the encouragement to go out there and build an innings and build some confidence.

"We set out at the beginning of the series to bat 90 overs each time we batted and get past the 300 mark. That was one of the things that we wanted to achieve today and we achieved that."

Lehmann added: "It would have been great for the crowd, but at the end of the day we can only give teams options. If they don't want to play that way that's their choice."

"I think it would have been a great experience for even the young West Indies side to defend a total...and we would have gone the whole hog. It would have been an exciting day, but that's what happens in Test cricket. It's never easy to have a result when you have two and a half days washed out."