Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, Sydney, 5th day….Holder rejected Smith’s run chase offer; match drawn

The West Indies captain Jason Holder declined an offer to make a game of the rain-ruined third Test against Australia in Sydney because he did not think his side was ready to try to go for the win.

In a scenario that the Caribbean side would have struggled to create over a full five-day match against Australia, the hosts’ captain Steven Smith offered Holder the chance to defend 370 runs off 70 overs on the final day, with Australia declaring their first innings at 0 for 0 then offering scoring opportunities to the visitors. Smith’s disappointment at the offer being refused was plain.

“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,” Smith said. “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.

“Whatever you have to do to get that on the board was going to happen. 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. 370 off 70 overs is quite a lot of runs, I think that is fair game for both teams, as I said it was just disappointing that they weren’t willing to come to the party.”

A crowd of 6865 took advantage of free admission to come to the SCG on the final day, and Smith’s intention overnight had been to give them a spectacle. The game is more cynical about contrived results after the days of the former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje, who once made a similar offer to the England captain Nasser Hussain on the final day of a Test at Centurion in 1999-2000 on behalf of bookmakers. However, Smith said the coach Darren Lehmann had checked the ICC playing conditions and code of conduct before making the offer.

“I spoke to a few of the senior guys, but that was the number I was looking at over night and this morning if the sun was going to come out and we could play,” Smith said of the 370 target. “I spoke to Boof who read through the rules, which 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.”

For Holder’s part, his team has made subtle improvements this summer, but their bowling has been a major weakness throughout, as evidenced by how David Warner rattled to a century from only 82 balls on the final afternoon. Like Allan Border leading a similarly weakened Australia in the mid-1980s, Holder felt that his team must learn how better to avoid defeat before victory can be pursued.

“He [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. It was a team vote, team decision. At that stage of our development and the phase we’re at we thought it was the best thing for the team.

“We started in Hobart and we didn’t play well at all there, we showed improvement in Melbourne and we just had to come here to improve as well. I think we just need to take it step by step, it’s not a case where you can just jump from losing Test matches to winning in one transition, especially against good opposition like Australia.”

The West Indies tour ended on a note of personal loss for opening batsman Rajendra Chandrika, whose father Baljit died suddenly overnight in the Caribbean. Both sides wore black armbands out of respect.

(Taken from ESPN Sports Media Ltd.)