At Melbourne, December 26, 27, 28, 29. Australia won by 352 runs. Toss: West Indies. Test debut: C. E. L. Stuart.
The march of history would not be halted, or even slowed, at the MCG. Off the field, a controversial proposal was announced to bulldoze the storied members' pavilion in a massive redevelopment. On the ground, the wrecking of the once mighty West Indies continued. Only a wild Walsh slog, which saved the follow-on and compelled Australia to take a gratuitous second innings, stretched this match into a fourth day.
Australia regained Steve Waugh and replaced MacGill with Bichel, while West Indies introduced Colin Stuart in place of the tiring Black. Put in on an easy-paced pitch, the Australians played a little too casually on Boxing Day, four falling to pull shots, and at 149 for five mediocrity was upon them. Not, however, on the captain. He would not be lulled, nor tempted when another two from the last ball of the day would have raised his hundred. He was content to wait until next morning, when he rallied the tail to lift Australia to 364. His unbeaten century sped him past Viv Richards (8,540) to fifth on the list of Test cricket's highest run-scorers. Psychologically cowed, West Indies made no effort to press their early advantage, leaving too much of the bowling to newcomer Stuart and part-timer Samuels. Jacobs took seven catches, equalling the Test record, but his feat was scarcely acknowledged by his despondent team-mates.
McGrath began with a spell of eight overs for two runs, and Gillespie was scarcely more philanthropic. West Indies did not manage a run off the bat until the eighth over. Inevitably, there was a clatter of wickets, including Lara's to a needless flash at Bichel, and, after little more than an hour and a half, they were 28 for five. At length the bowlers tired, the ball was made squelchy by rain, and the siege was relaxed. Samuels and Jacobs, who together hit 12 from a Miller over, put on 75, McLean lashed Bichel for six and Walsh flailed twice, the first time to break his duck and the second to save the follow-on. This milestone so excited him that he ran himself out seeking a third run off the same ball. Samuels remained defiantly unbeaten with a maiden fifty. Having claimed only four wickets in his previous four Tests, Bichel took five in an afternoon.
Australia spent the first five and a half hours of day three extending their lead to the length of a piece of string. Some perished in the haste, but Langer swatted his first half-century of the series, Mark Waugh continued his rich run of form, and Steve Waugh played two pull shots, confirming that this was indeed a leap year. Australia sent in Miller at No. 6, for the gain of one long six. West Indies could do no more than limit the damage, Adams bowling himself in a long spell at and outside leg stump.
At the declaration, the West Indians needed 462. It was always academic. By stumps half an hour later, they were ten for three, with opener Campbell still to score. Early next morning, they were 23 for six, all of them to Gillespie: his prize had been Lara, who allowed a fast, breaking ball to bowl him for his third duck of the series. Adams fell first ball for a pair, putting West Indies comfortably on target to break the record of 26 ducks in a series. Against batsmen whose feet were stuck so fast, it was too easy for Australia: the straight balls either bowled them or trapped them lbw; the wider balls were caught in the cordon. It was left to Samuels and Jacobs, again, to rescue respectability, and the formalities ended when teenager Samuels was caught at long-on, aiming for his second half-century of the match. For the first time in 32 Tests, McGrath did not take a wicket in either innings.
Man of the Match: S. R. Waugh.