Australia departed from the dry, windswept hills of Antigua to the lush rainforest of Dominica with their first Test line-up mostly settled.
A three-day tour match in Antigua may have ended in a draw but it provided results in terms of team selection questions.
As the team begins preparations in Roseau for Wednesday’s first Test, Shaun Marsh and Josh Hazlewood were both sitting comfortably in their airplane seats for the 40-minute flight from one island to another.
Marsh is surely certain to retain his spot in the face of challenges from state teammate Adam Voges and younger brother Mitchell Marsh.
The 31-year-old’s 118 against a WICB President’s XI was the standout performance in the tour match, with Voges’ 52 unlikely to be enough to get the 35-year-old a baggy green cap.
Hazlewood took 5-40 in the match to easily be Australia’s best bowler and surely cement his spot in the Test lineup whether the tourists use two spinners or three quicks in Dominica.
The state of the pitch at Windsor Park is almost certain to finalise whether leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed makes his much anticipated Test debut.
Dominica is traditionally spin-friendly but Fawad’s performance (2-144) in Antigua hardly demanded selection and it seems Australia will only take two frontline spinners into the match if the pitch is an obvious turner.
Coach Darren Lehmann is keeping his cards close to his chest and admits a final lineup may not be decided until Wednesday’s toss.
“I’d love to give you the side earlier but I reckon it’s going to be a late call,” Lehmann said.
“This pitch (Antigua) changed a lot in the 24 hours leading up to the tour game. It’s going to be a really tight call which way we go.”
Australia will get their first look at the Windsor Park pitch on Sunday afternoon when the team trains at the venue for the first time.
HOW AUSTRALIA’S TEST HOPEFULS FARED IN ANTIGUA
SHAUN MARSH – Scored a patient 118 after being given an early life when he was on four. Innings should be enough to retain his Test spot.
ADAM VOGES – The uncapped 35-year-old did nothing wrong with his 52 and some tidy overs of left-arm spin, but it may not be enough to earn him a Test debut.
MITCHELL MARSH – Needed a big game to oust either his older brother or incumbent allrounder Shane Watson. Eight runs and 2-57 won’t be enough.
FAWAD AHMED – The Pakistan-born leg-spinner was mixed in the first innings and good without taking a wicket in the second in Antigua. Still in the frame for a debut in Dominica but only if Australia go with twin spinners.
JOSH HAZLEWOOD – Took 5-40 with the ball including a second innings spell of 3-4 in four overs with three maidens. Add an unbeaten 31no with the bat and the 24-year-old has done all he can to secure a spot against the Windies.