Twelve millimetres of grass have been left on the Optus Stadium pitch for the first Test between Australia and West Indies starting on Wednesday, with head curator Isaac McDonald tipping “good pace and bounce” from the surface.
“We want to bat [for] 100 overs, the main focus is to have discipline,” he told reporters on the eve of the Test. “We have batsmen that can get on with it, so it’s not to stop them. It’s for them to do the processes throughout the entire innings. It’s not to change anyone’s game.
“I think [batting] time is always great to have in Test cricket… to believe they can do it. We know Australia is a superior team. We have to play ten days of hard cricket, that’s our main focus.”
Having “started the process” towards a red-ball cricket renaissance with home series victories over England and Bangladesh earlier in the year, West Indies are eyeing a drought-breaking triumph in Australia, where they haven’t won a Test match since February 1997.
And as classic battles between the teams from the 1990s enjoy reruns on Australian pay television ahead of the series, nostalgia is swelling for the Frank Worrell Trophy’s heyday when it was a marquee series, and was fiercely contested.
“We know Test cricket is real cricket,” Brathwaite said. “As a team, we want to do well for the Caribbean, and want youngsters to play Test cricket for West Indies. Obviously we were great in the past, and we use it as motivation to get to that level. If we stick together as a group, we can improve and get to those great levels.”
“We play England quite often… once we play more [against Australia] often, I think it would be much better,” Brathwaite said. “Playing Australia quite often would be good for us to challenge ourselves against one of the best teams in the world. We are aiming to get back to that standard, but this trophy still means a lot to us.”