| Jimmy Maher, who may don the gloves if Gilchrist is rested
Castries (St Lucia): Australia may be leading the West Indies 2-0 and zooming in on their 20th consecutive one-day International victory, but the perfectionist World Cup champions are fretting over their deteriorating fielding.
Ricky Ponting’s Australians beat the West Indies in the weekend double-header in Jamaica and will take a throttlehold on the seven-game series should they come away with another victory in the third match here on Wednesday.
The Australians hammered Brian Lara’s team by eight wickets in Sunday’s second match at Kingston’s Sabina Park, but such are their lofty standards that they were dismayed at putting down three catches in skittling out the Windies for 163.
“It was certainly a lot better performance than Saturday’s two-run win, although we put down some catches which is becoming a bit of a worry,” Ponting said after Sunday’s triumph.
Australian team coach John Buchanan said: “Obviously, we are dropping a lot of catches at the moment, principally because there is no time to put into our fielding work.
“That was sliding as we were in the Test matches as well. Just because there were not the facilities, and if you put time into your fielding, physically that takes away from the rest of your game, so we have sacrificed that at the moment.
“At some stage, that will hurt us. Whether it hurts us enough to lose a game, we are yet to see.”
Batsman Darren Lehmann (calf) and allrounder Ian Harvey (stomach) were unlikely to play on Wednesday, and wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist was expected to rest from the game.
If that is the case, then Jimmy Maher will take over the gloves while batsman Michael Clarke may play his second one-day International.
Gilchrist had been expected to rest on Sunday but the injury to Lehmann prompted selectors to play the vice-captain.
The Australians remain unbeaten in one-day Internationals since losing to Sri Lanka by 79 runs at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 9 this year.
Since then, Australia’s dominance has taken in the World Cup in southern Africa when they beat all comers, culminating in their 125-run demolition of India in the final in Johannesburg on March 23.
“I would like to think it’s something that will be unbeaten for a long time,” Ponting said of the Streak. “What we have been able to achieve I think is outstanding.”
The West Indies have more problems with express bowler Jermaine Lawson joining batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul (broken finger) on the sidelines for the series.
Lawson, who has been reported to the International Cricket Council for a suspected illegal action, has a back strain.
Windies skipper Brian Lara will be looking to re-assert himself against the strong Australian bowling attack after the failures in Kingston.
Lara went cheaply with just five off 12 balls on Sunday, following up his 23 on Saturday.
West Indies (from): Brian Lara (captain), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Omari Banks, Carlton Baugh, David Bernard, Corey Collymore, Mervyn Dillon, Vasbert Drakes, Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Ryan Hurley, Ricardo Powell, Marlon Samuels, Devon Smith.
Australia (from): Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting (captain), Jimmy Maher, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Bevan, Brad Hogg, Andrew Bichel, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath, Nathan Hauritz. (AFP)