Ricky downplays whitewash
Ricky Ponting has played down talk of Australia sweeping West Indies in a one-day international series for the first time in the Caribbean.
Australia lead the five-match ODI series 3-0, after winning the opening ODI by 84 runs in St. Vincent, as well as the second and third ODIs by 63 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis Method and seven wickets respectively in Grenada.
South Africa and Pakistan achieved ODI series sweeps in the Caribbean three years ago, when the Proteas won all five of their matches in a bilateral series, and the Pakistanis won all three in theirs.
The world ODI champions have easily stamped their authority and their reputation on the series. They have batted skilfully, bowled efficiently, and fielded athletically, leaving West Indies looking like schoolboys in their wake, and putting the reality of a series sweep on the table.
"We have been pretty impressive," he said. "We did not get everything our way in the series, but I think the second and third ODIs were probably our best performances.
"I think our response to each situation in which we found ourselves has been terrific. I am quite satisfied with the way things have gone.
"We have had a tough call to leave some of the guys out of the side, but the series has been played pretty much the way we would liked."
But Ponting, the Australia captain, is not prepared to predict a result for the fourth ODI on Friday at Warner Park, or for the final ODI on Sunday at the same venue.
"We have been here to the Caribbean before, and been in this situation, and lost the last few matches, so we have to make sure that we are focussed and ready for Friday's game first before we get to Sunday, and anything consideration about a 5-0," he said.
Australia's last two trips to the Caribbean have produced some of their closest ODI contests against West Indies.
They shared a seven-match ODI series nine years ago 3-3, after the fifth match was ruled a tie by ICC Match Referee Raman Subba Row, following a pitch invasion when the last ball was being delivered, and five years ago, they lost three straight matches in another seven-match series, after winning the first four.
But Ponting knows his side has got West Indies in a jam, and he is a little surprised there has been little or no fight from the opposition.
"I really felt that we took the energy for a scrap out of them in the third ODI," he said. "We were able to drag things back after they got off to a flyer, and I think that is where the real energy was sucked out of their side.
"Although they got an early wicket, when we batted, once Shane and I settled down to the bat there was little or no intensity out there. I guess we played reasonably well at that stage.
"But I guess that with there being a series on the line, you would have expected a little bit more from the West Indies."
West Indies have made some changes to their personnel for the two weekend games, and cut their squad to 13 at the same time.
Nikita Miller has come into the line-up for fellow left-arm spin bowler Sulieman Benn, left-handed batsman Shawn Findlay has replaced Kieron Pollard, and teenager Kemar Roach has been shipped in to spare Jerome Taylor's overworked right shoulder, while wicketkeeper/batsman Patrick Browne has been dropped.
West Indies captain Chris Gayle has acknowledged that his side has performed way below par, and they need to end the series on a high note.
"We are looking forward to the two matches, since we still have a lot of pride for which to play," he said.
"We can't let this continue the way they have been going. It does not look good, and we need to pull our socks up.
"We have done a lot of talking, but this is not going to help us at this particular time. We need more action, and it's up to the individuals to work out what's gone wrong with their games."
WEST INDIES (from): Chris Gayle (captain), Ramnaresh Sarwan (vice-captain), Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Shawn Findlay, Andre Fletcher, Xavier Marshall, Nikita Miller, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy.
AUSTRALIA (from): Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Brad Haddin, James Hopes, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Luke Ronchi, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson, Cameron White.