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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Thanks very much, Brian!
Justin Langer writes for the BBC Sport website
By Justin Langer
Australian batsman in Bridgetown, Barbados

Eyebrows were raised early into the Australian summer when England captain Nasser Hussain won the toss in Brisbane and elected to bowl first in the first Test of the Ashes series.

From that point on the scrutiny was intense for Hussain, who later admitted that, with the benefit of hindsight, he wished he had batted first on what proved to be a good batting pitch.

Similar circumstances came to pass on Thursday morning at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

When Brian Lara won the toss and decided to bowl first on a flat, grassless pitch, there was a stunned silence in our changing room.

Nasser Hussain and Steve Waugh at the Brisbane toss
Seconds later, Hussain invited the Aussies to bat first at Brisbane

Obviously the West Indian captain had his theories about his decision to send us in, but whatever they were, we have had another fantastic day.

The West Indies opted for a very inexperienced, raw, but potentially exciting bowling line-up of Best, Lawson and Banks, all given their first taste of hardcore Test cricket.

With pace to burn, Best and Lawson ran in hard all day, but due to the very flat and slow nature of the Kensington Oval pitch, their efforts went largely unrewarded.

By stumps we had reached 310 for the loss of only three wickets, with Darren Lehmann still at the crease on 87 and captain Steve Waugh boasting a handful of well accumulated runs.

In the process of dominating most of the day, Ricky Ponting scored his 17th Test century. He is playing with the confidence you may expect from a man who has scored four centuries in his last six international innings.

A sign of a player in peak form is the sense that they have a lot of time to play any ball delivered to them.

The young West Indian team is in for a daunting assignment over the next four days
Justin Langer

At present, Rick looks like he is in position so early that he can hit the ball to any part of the field at will.

This ability is usually the product of pinpoint concentration, confidence, preparation and of course mountains of natural ability.

Totally at ease with himself, our vice-captain is performing as one may expect from a man who is gaining a reputation for being as classy a player as Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara.

As the game now stands we could not be in a stronger position.

Unusually, our selectors opted for four fast bowlers plus the leg spin of Stuart MacGill for this series-deciding Test match.

This selection is a tribute to Andy Bichel who has been in brilliant form for the last six months.

With Glenn McGrath returning to the team, Bichel made it impossible for the selectors to overlook him.

Our batting may look a little thin with Bichel coming in at number seven, but the selectors and his team-mates have every faith that he will be able to do the job with both bat and ball.

With five front-line bowlers, a platform for a massive first innings total and a pitch that is sure to deteriorate, the young West Indian team is in for a daunting assignment over the next four days.





Links to more WI v Aus 2003 stories


 

SEE ALSO
Gayle warning for Aussies
29 Apr 03  |  WI v Aus 2003
Trinidad here we come
18 Apr 03  |  WI v Aus 2003
Batting paradise at Bourda
14 Apr 03  |  WI v Aus 2003
Australia keen to confirm dominance
10 Apr 03  |  WI v Aus 2003
Ready for Caribbean challenge
07 Apr 03  |  WI v Aus 2003

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