Bridgetown: Australia captain Steve Waugh, whose team are on the brink of handing the West Indies their first 5-0 whitewash in the Caribbean, still sees a bright future for his opponents.
Steve, remembering that the roles were reversed when he came into Test cricket 18 years ago, believes the West Indies are one of the few teams in the world which are improving and that their young team needs time to mature.
Australia have won their last eight Tests against the West Indies, having handed them a 5-0 whitewash in 2001 in Australia.
“I think they’re one of the few sides in the world who are on the way up, I think they’ve shown a lot of improvement since we beat them in Australia,” he said.
“You need to give the guys time because there’s a good deal of talent in the side.”
Steve’s words will lend moral support to West Indies captain Brian Lara and the team selectors, who are under increasing pressure in the region to bring back more experienced players.
West Indies fielded two debutants, Barbadian fast bowler Tino Best and Anguillan off-spinner Omari Banks, in the third Test in a team with an average age of 25.
Lara has stood by his team, saying that more experienced players had come up short in the past. Steve remembered when he began his record-breaking Test career, West Indies were the dominant force.
“I have great respect for West Indies cricket and they taught us a lot when we were not doing so well. I played in 85 and they were the dominating force and we were learning from them.”
Steve has an excellent personal record against the West Indies. In the 1994-95 series, he averaged 107.25 over four Tests, including a double century in the decider at Kingston, Jamaica, which effectively ended West Indies’ domination of the world game as well as paving the way for Australia’s emergence as the team to beat.
It was West Indies’ first home series defeat in 22 years and Australia’s first series win against them since 1978.
Steve, who made a century in the drawn tour opener against Guyana last week, was to be almost as inspirational in the 2000-1 home series, averaging 69.8.