Australian cricket team in the West Indies in 1983–84
The West Indies won the series 3–0 with two matches drawn. The West Indies therefore retained the Sir Frank Worrell Trophy.
Wisden said that Australia "were outplayed in every department of the game, sometimes embarrassingly so." The West Indies did not lose a single second innings wicket in any of the five Tests and were only once dismissed for fewer than 300. Australia made more than 300 only once.
The series was enormously successful for Allan Border who was top scorer in half his ten Test innings and scored more than twice as many as anyone else in the team. It also saw the establishment of Wayne Phillips as Australia's first-choice wicketkeeper after Roger Woolley initially looked like taking the job. However veteran Australian players such as Geoff Lawson, Rodney Hogg, Kim Hughes and David Hookes performed poorly.
The original squad selected were as follows:
- Batsmen – Kim Hughes (captain), Alan Border (vice-captain), Greg Ritchie, Steve Smith, Kepler Wessels, Graham Yallop, David Hookes, Wayne Phillips (also back up wicketkeeper)
- Fastbowlers – Terry Alderman, Geoff Lawson, Rodney Hogg, Carl Rackemann, John Maguire
- Spinners – Tom Hogan, Greg Matthews
- Wicketkeepers – Roger Woolley
- Support team – Col Egar (manager), Geoff Dymock (assistant manager), Errol Allcot
- Selectors – Hughes, Border, Dymock
The selection of the side was generally uncontroversial – all the players had been in good form over the Australian summer, and those that did not play test cricket had played one day games for Australia. West Australian all rounder Ken MacLeay had been thought a possible tourist but his form had fallen away during the summer. Spinner Murray Bennett was considered unlucky to not be picked. David Hookes had not played for the Australian test side for a while but was in the one day team and had toured the West Indies before, and his experience was thought to be useful considering the retirements of Chappell, Lillee and Marsh. Roger Woolley, the first choice wicketkeeper, was the first Tasmanian based player to be picked for Australia since Laurie Nash in 1931.
Graham Yallop had injured his knee during a one day international in Australia in 1984 and it was unsure if he would be able to tour so Dean Jones was placed on standby. Rod McCurdy was announced as a back up if any bowlers were injured. Steve Smith and Greg Ritchie injured themselves during the one day finals and David Boon and Graeme Wood were placed on standby for them.
Dean Jones later recalled:
It was an awful time to play for Australia. Greg Chappell, Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee had just retired from Test cricket and South African cricket officials, like Dr Ali Bacher, were lingering around trying to induce players to play in South Africa on an unauthorised tour. I was the first player to reject Bacher's $200,000 tax-free offer and my teammates hated me for it. Players had their own agendas. Our team culture was pathetic and most players were very selfish.
Australian began the tour well with a comfortable victory over Leeward Island in which Wessels scored over 200 runs and Rackemann took nine wickets. During the game Wayne Phillips and Greg Ritchie over slept and missed training; they were fined by their teammates.
The Australians dominated their next match, a drawn game against Guyana, in which Steve Smith lept into test contention by scoring a century in each innings; Tom Hogan also pressed his claims for the spinner's spot by taking seven wickets. The game was marred by conflict between Geoff Lawson and a local umpire over a decision and minor injuries to Woolley and Lawson; Peter McFarline also questioned the uninspiring captaincy of Alan Border, who was in charge during that game.
The early good form of the Australian squad plus injuries to Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding led to some optimistic forecasts. Cricketer writer Peter McFarline wrote that "the Australians, to a man, are confident they can win both [the first test and one day international], even though the odds against them in local eyes are substantial."
For the first one day international of the tour, Australia decided to bolster their batting by picking Wayne Phillips as the wicketkeeper. Australia wound up losing, due mostly to a century from Desmond Haynes and the off spin bowling of Viv Richards and Larry Gomes. An Australian highlight was a quick 43 from Dean Jones. During the game spectators watched by climbing on the scoreboard; the scoreboard collapsed but no one was injured.
Australia decided to persist with Phillips as keeper for the first test, and brought in Steve Smith to open with Kepler Wessels. Greg Ritchie and David Hookes occupied the batting slots that had been taken by Greg Chappell and Graham Yallop over the Australian summer; Tom Hogan was spinner and Lawson, Hogg and Alderman constituted the attack.
Australia were in trouble in the first innings at 9–182 but then Rodney Hogg and Tom Hogan came together and decided to ignore Kim Hughes' instructions to hit out; they combined for a partnership of 97, a record tenth wicket stand for Australia against the West Indies, and took the total to 279. The West Indies were then dismissed for 230. Half centuries to Alan Border and Phillips meant Australia declared, setting the West Indies 323 to win. Haynes and Greenidge decided to go for it and put on 250 runs without loss before the game was called off as a draw.
Geoff Lawson was later £150 by the Australian team management for angrily snatching his hat from an umpire Narine after an appeal was turned down. 
Kim Hughes controversy
The next game was a tour match against Trinidad & Tobago, which ended in a draw.
Australian captain Kim Hughes was criticised for a show of dissent during the closing stages of the game. Peter McFarline wrote:
Hughes, who has worked hard to give a new direction to the Australian team since taking over as captain... has lost many supporters... it is a pity the majority of members of this touring side just cannot come to terms with the reality of playing cricket in another country with different styles, beliefs, cultures and characteristics from the ones they are used to... This team fondly believe they are a collection of professional players. On the strength of their performance on Monday, under the leadership of Hughes, they are still strictly amateurs."
The second test match saw Smith pulled out due to injury, replaced by Dean Jones, who made his test debut. Wayne Phillips was kept as keeper but also had to open. Viv Richards led the West Indies in the place of the injured Clive Lloyd.
Jones later recalled:
On the night of my first Test in Trinidad, I was struck down with the worst virus. My roommate was Geoff Lawson. He rightly said he didn't want me in his room for fear of catching the virus. Our manager at the time, Colin Egar, said the ACB wouldn't pay for another room. So I slept in the corridor outside my room for three nights until I was well. Can you believe a Test cricketer sleeping in the corridor during his first Test?
The game is remembered today chiefly for one of Alan Border's greatest feats with the bat. He scored 98 not out and 100, ensuring Australia escaped with a draw. Two of his partnerships were particularly memorable: a century stand with Dean Jones in the first innings and an undefeated stand of 61 runs with Terry Alderman in the second innings which ensured Australia escaped with a draw. Border hit the last ball of the match for a boundary to bring up his century. Jones later described his first innings score of 48 as his "best knock" in test cricket.
The turning point of the tour came with the third test. Dean Jones made way for Steve Smith, back in the side from injury, with Phillips still as keeper but pushed back down the order. Graeme Wood replaced an injured Kepler Wessels as opener.
Australia batted extremely well in the first innings, the highlight being Phillips' knock of 120 (including four sixes). At the end of day three the West Indies were 3–301 in reply and it seemed the game was headed for a draw. (Richardson and Greenidge, who both scored centuries, had been dropped early on in their respective innings.) Peter McFarline thought Phillips had batted Australia to a "position from where it cannot lose the match".
Graeme Wood fractured his finger during the game and had to return home from the tour.
For the fourth test Australia brought in Roger Woolley as wicketkeeper letting Phillips play as a specialist batsman. Rodney Hogg was injured and missed the game.
Despite a first innings score of 98 from Alan Border, the West Indies won the game easily by an innings. Both Viv Richards and Richie Richardson scored centuries. An Australian positive was the bowling of Carl Rackemann.
Australia then drew a tour game against Windward Islands in which Steve Smith scored another century.
For the fifth test, Australia tried to bolster the bowling by using Greg Matthews as a fifth bowler and playing Phillips as a wicketkeeper again. It did not work and the West Indies won by ten wickets. Steve Smith was injured and could not bat in Australia's second innings.
The tour had been a disastrous one for Australia, despite some encouraging early performances. The only players who could have been said to return with their reputations enhanced were Alan Border and Wayne Phillips; Peter McFarline spoke well of Geoff Lawson and Tom Hogan. McFarline said "Woolley's tour with the gloves has been as poor as I have seen in this class of cricket. It resulted in Wayne Phillips, a man of talent but not yet with the capacity to understand that talent, being placed in the position of keeping as well as opening the batting."
Phillips' relative success as wicketkeeper encouraged the Australian selectors to persist with him in that position for the next two summers with ultimately disastrous consequences for Phillips' career and the Australian team.
Australia's senior players were seen to have let them down: Hughes, Hookes, Rackemann, Hogg. Kim Hughes' failures with the bat were instrumental in him resigning the captaincy in November 1984. Alan Border later remembered:
By the end of the tour Kim was really feeling the pinch. At one stage we were in Jamaica, at Montego Bay, and we'd had the day off and been on the beach. We came back to the team hotel and there's Kim, half cut watching the Donald Duck show or something with his hair all braided and with those coloured balls hanging off. I thought then: 'Kim, you've lost the plot."'
Ian Chappell, a long time critic of Hughes' captaincy, later wrote:
Hughes has suffered a string of defeats as Australia's captain on foreign soil but this latest one makes his job of trying to drag the side up by his bootstraps an impossible one, and I think the ACB has to offer the job to Alan Border.
Dean Jones said the team had poor culture:
An example of the bad culture within our team came when one of our front-line bowlers got very upset when he didn't get the new ball. He was furious that he was selected to bowl first change. This particular bowler took our first wicket for the match. When everyone ran in to congratulate him, he threw a haymaker punch at our captain, Kim Hughes. When asked to explain his actions by Hughes, the bowler's response was, I got a wicket for ya, and walked back to his mark. Oh yes, things were very different then.
However at the time there were many positive reports about the Australian team culture. Peter McFarline called the squad "the fittest tourists for many years, perhaps ever." It was the first tour by physiotherapist Errol Alcott, who became an integral part of the side.
- Wisden – The Australians in the West Indies, 1983–84.
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