Playing what may have been his final international innings in Australia powerhouse opener David Warner went big but his one-man effort couldn’t reel in what would have been a record T20 run-chase as the international summer ended in a fizzling defeat to the West Indies in Perth.
Warner, whose future in Australian colours beyond this year’s T20 World Cup remains unclear, became the second man to pass 3000 T20 runs for his country as he blasted 81 off 49 including 54 runs in boundaries.
But it proved a one-man effort as the Aussies, with captain Mitch Marsh opening in a batting order re-jig, failed to match the six-hitting onslaught of Windies powerhouse Andre Russell who powered his team to a massive 6-220, finishing at 5-183 in the 37-run defeat.
The tourists took their run-haul through the three match series to a mammoth 629 against the fill-in T20 attack as superstar slugger Russell destroyed star Aussie spinner Adam Zampa slapping seven sixes in a 29-ball innings of 71.
He swatted Zampa, whose final figures of 1-67 were his worst ever in T20 internationals. for four maximums off the penultimate over of the innings, which went for 28 runs, as part of a world-record sixth wicket partnership of 139 with Sherfane Rutherford (67 not out off 40), the duo combining for 12 sixes.
Needing to record the biggest international T20 run-chase in Australia, and looking for a 6-0 clean sweep across two white-ball series, Warner rebounded after being floored by a nasty ball from Russell in the fourth over to make a 26th T20 half-century.
But after selectors opted against handing batting tyro Jake Fraser-McGurk a T20 debut, there was no batting support, the 41 from Tim David, after some late slogging, the next best score as the Australians suffered just the second loss in 11 matches across the home summer against first Pakistan then the Windies.
Instead it was Russell, who rescued his team from 5-79 to record a much-needed win as they build to their home World Cup, with the tournament being hosted in the Caribbean and USA.
“That’s the nature of this team, we are never out. Five wickets down, there wasn’t any panic,” Russell told Fix Cricket.
“When you have a team like this, I know what I can do … I wasn’t;tr really worried. I’m just happy we are coming together as a team, playing together as a unit.”
The Aussie run-chase floundered after national selectors followed the advice of Fraser-McGurk’s South Australian coach, Jason Gillespie, to “calm the farm” around the 21-year-old batter who was called in to the squad but didn’t play, having blasted a brilliant 18-ball 41 in his second ODI.
“It’s a big deal to be called up to play for your country and he’s shown some signs he’s a player of the future,” Gillespie said of Fraser-McGurk earlier on Tuesday in Adelaide.
“He’s a young player, and let’s remember he’s 21 – he’s very early in his journey.
“We just need to make sure we’re calming the farm, and just allow him to learn and develop.”
International cricket seems to like Xavier Bartlett , who, given an Australian T20 debut to add to his two ODI caps, was in the wickets again and must be on the T20 World Cup selection radar, given he’s also proved economical.
The big Queensland fast bowler returned unbelievable figures of 8-38 in his two 50-over outings, and took wickets in each of his first two overs in Perth after being inserted as a replacement for Josh Hazlewood.
He finished with 2-37 and now has international cricket figures of 10-75 to start what could be a long and impressive career in the green and gold.
It was either extremely passive aggressive, or humorous, when at the very first opportunity every single Australian player appealed, and loudly, for a close run-out when Mitch Marsh threw down the stumps early in the West Indies innings.
Bowler Jason Behrendorff went twice, vocally, and there were arms in the air all over the field, a clear and direct response to the incident in Adelaide on Sunday night when the lack of an appeal, at least according to umpire Gerard Abood, resulted in Jason Holder not being given out in similar circumstances.
The behaviour of the Australian players, who circled the umpire confused at what happened before being diffused by captain Mitch Marsh, raised some eyebrows, and the nature of the appeal in Perth, even though it was a close call, might do the same.