Roseau, Dominica: Australia's bowlers have helped out their batsmen with two crucial tail-end batting displays in the series against West Indies and on the fourth day of the final Test it was the turn of a batsman to return the favour.
With off-spinner Nathan Lyon surprisingly unable to get the most out of a turning track, skipper Michael Clarke took on the task and claimed three of the West Indies top order. Kraigg Brathwaite was trapped lbw, Kieran Powell was bowled between bat and pad before he removed the stubborn Shivnarine Chanderpaul for 69 in the final over of the day. "He did mention that he was going to go to the nets today to have a bit of bowling practice after the first innings," said Australia coach Mickey Arthur.
"We talk about big match players, we talk about players stepping up when a game is on the line, we talk about players finding a way in conditions that are foreign to them, Michael Clarke just typifies that," he said.
Shane Shillingford's 10-wicket haul for West Indies clearly illustrated the wicket had turn and bounce for the spinners but Lyon, who had four wickets in the first innings, could not exploit the surface. "This is a continual development for Nathan. It probably wasn't his best today," said Arthur. "But I thought he was very good in Trinidad and very good here in the first innings. And with Nathan we've got to understand this is his 21st first-class game of which 13 have been Test matches so he's developing every day. For him to come out and bowl with the expectation of bowling on a wicket where the West Indies spinner [Shillingford] has got a 10-for, with the expectation of having to try to win the game is totally foreign to him. He'll take a lot from today and I'm pretty sure that we'll see him bounce back tomorrow."
Arthur said the way Clarke took on the responsibility spoke volumes of the captain's qualities. "The way he stood up today ... for him to come in and take charge almost of that situation I think has been outstanding and just exemplifies the character of the man," he said. Clarke's bowling raised the question of whether or not he has been under-utilised in spin-friendly conditions. "First and foremost you have a go with the bowlers that you've picked to win the game," said Arthur.
"I think in conditions like these it just helps the balance of the side if you've got a captain who can bowl left-arm spin. It allows you to play that extra seamer or extra batter whatever it is. Michael tends to have a little bit of a golden arm. He rocks up, he does a little bit of work and gets it done. He got the job done again today."