The West Indies were still regarded as the best team in the world at that time. Touring West Indies meant, you would definitely lose, and exhibiting some fight was regarded highly during those days. When Imran Khan’s young team challenged the might of the great Caribbean side, the world was surprised as neither England nor Australia could stand a chance against them.
Since 1986, the clash between Pakistan and West Indies were regarded as the unofficial clash of the Titans.
But Australia, under the supervision of Allan Border and Bob Simpson, started to gel as a team. Their bowling attack was regarded as a weak link after the departure of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. Young guns like Craig McDermott, Bruce Reid, Jeff Lawson, and Merv Hughes were expected to carry on, but injuries dented their progress more often.
Especially, McDermott was regarded very highly because of his pace and aggression, but he was let down a lot by injuries and inconsistencies.
After a successful World Cup 1987, his form dipped – 10 wickets from 22 Test matches at an average of 37.40 did not do justice to his talent and then injuries showed up. He was included in the fourth and fifth Ashes Test of 1990-91 where he shone with the bat and ball.
The next destination was the West Indies.
Australia went there with the motto of playing with the same aggression as the Caribbean and McDermott displayed that with his bowling on the first day of the first Test at Sabina Park.
Viv Richards won the toss and elected to bat.
Immediately, West Indies discovered themselves reeling at 75for 6. McDermott and Hughes set jitters in the batting line-up. A vicious delivery from McDermott floored Gus Logie who was retired hurt, but came out to bat and later on came out to bat helped his team to get out of the rut.
McDermott exhibited aggression by pitching it short at pace and hardly erred with his line-and-length – the ball pitched on the perfect channel and moved back-in and away. The shorter ones were a signal that Australia would not step back from testing the West Indies with their own medicine.
The priced scalp of the day was that of Richards, who was caught by Hughes off the bowling of McDermott. As Richards walked off after scoring 1 run, McDermott and his team displayed a dam-care attitude as if it was an easy wicket to fetch.
McDermott bagged a 5-er with Hughes 4.
Richards and West Indies responded in a typical fashion in the second outing, but that aggression by McDermott on Day 1 was a message – if not today, but tomorrow, Australia would overtake the throne.