Australia v West Indies: Cricket played for the sake of playing on uncontested final day of third Test

Australia v West Indies: Cricket played for the sake of playing on uncontested final day of third Test

Australia v West Indies: Cricket played for the sake of playing on uncontested final day of third Test

Updated 7 January 2016, 18:30 AEDT

With the best part of three days of a Test rained out, the fifth day appears somewhat pointless, but even pointless cricket can be lovely, writes Geoff Lemon.

There is something kind of charming about cricket's more pointless moments. When the middle three days of a game have been rained to Noah, but the sun shines brightly on the morning of the fifth, little has less point than a dislocated final stanza. But we play it and we watch it and it can be lovely.

With the pressures of the contest removed, as Taylor Swift may have observed, there is freedom for the players to just play. There is cricket in a pure sense, batting for its own sake, building an innings for the simple point of resisting the bowling, searching for wickets for nothing but personal pride.

On day five of the summer's sixth and final Test match at the SCG, there was also the chance for West Indies to move to its highest score of the series, a relatively modest 330 that will nonetheless let them take a little more heart from this tour.

There was a chance for David Warner to score his 16th Test century, shifting his career average back above 50 and improving his lacklustre numbers against the Caribbean side. There was a chance for Mitchell Marsh to face a few deliveries in a season that has mocked his desire to spend time at the crease.

There was also, in the presence of Daphne Benaud, the tea-time announcement that a Richie Benaud Medal had been minted for player of the series, to be awarded from now on in West Indies-Australia contests. If nothing else, that gives hope for the future of cricketing ties between the countries, with dire predictions abounding after the visitors subsided in Hobart.

There was speculation before play of whether we would see declaration shenanigans to engineer a run-chase and a contest, but ever since Hansie Cronjie slipped on an infamous leather jacket after South Africa and England set up a similar scenario in 2000, the International Cricket Council's integrity department probably take a dim view of such arrangements.

Back in the present day, West Indies was unwilling to give anything away in a series where it has been outgunned and Australia certainly did not want to risk a loss to its summer guests. So the day was played out sensibly and soberly until it was called off at 5:00pm (AEDT).

West Indies wicketkeeper and former captain Denesh Ramdin resumed in the morning with the rare distinction of having batted across five days of a Test match, in a vigil that would eventually yield 62 runs.

Paceman Kemar Roach joined him on nought and they batted through 16 overs with few boundaries, just runs collected here and there around the field. Josh Hazlewood (1 for 49) and James Pattinson (2 for 76) were given only five runs between them before Steve Smith turned to dual spin.

Steve O'Keefe (3 for 63) finally ended the long wait for his second wicket on home soil, having taken his first on day one, when he bowled wide and Ramdin lashed it to slip via the outside edge of an angled bat.

The next over, Nathan Lyon (3 for 120) ripped a ball into Roach's pads, taking the edge to Burns at short leg. To get that kind of turn from a pitch that had lain unused for three days told you that, had the full allotment of time been used, it would have been a rager.

More of that, please, should be the note to the SCG curators.

It ended another stubborn Roach innings, 54 balls faced in nearly an hour in the middle to go with his three days on the sidelines.

The only excitement from there came in the form of a few attempted boundaries from Jomel Warrican (21 not out) and a few attempted leg-breaks from off spinner Lyon, each about as elegant and as successful as the other, before Jerome Taylor (13) cut O'Keefe to Lyon at backward point.

It was not just a spin-twin team-up for the last dismissal: they had taken three wickets apiece to vindicate their joint selection.

Warner entertains as the match peters out

From there, around a couple of brief rain delays that punctuated stretches of watery sunshine, Warner put on a batting exhibition. After cutting and driving into the 40s, he produced a switch-hit sweep along the ground for four, then cleared the leg and lofted over mid-wicket to reach his half-century.

To celebrate, he went even bigger, down on one knee in a proper slog sweep against what Jim Maxwell described as Warrican's "very juicy, flighted lollipops". Three in the deep on the leg side did not worry Warner, as he pushed his career average back above 50 - one of a handful of opening batsmen to boast that mark.

By the time he had charged to 73 from 54 balls, Joe Burns at the other end had only 18. Burns (26) hit a couple of boundaries to raise a fourth century partnership between the pair, then holed out to mid-on from Warrican (2 for 62).

Mitchell Marsh (21) provided the comedy moment of the day: promoted to number three in an effort to give him some batting minutes, he watched two deliveries from the non-striker's end before the first rain shower descended and the players left the field. But it cleared in under a minute, poking its tongue out at the all-rounder as it departed and the umpires waved him back on.

Warner's hundred came up after tea from 82 balls, the fastest scored at the SCG, and in his 48th Test it maintained his incredible rate of one every third match: better than all but four players who have played at least 20 Test innings.

Jason Holder dropped a fearsome chance at short cover when Warner belted a Kraigg Brathwaite (0 for 20) full toss straight at him, but aside from that Warner was pretty happy to drop anchor and register his century unbeaten, ending his day on 122.

It improved an unhappy record against one of cricket's more modest Test sides: Warner's pre-match average of 28.69 against them rising to 38.07. The batsman confirmed after the match that he was aware of the shortfall.

"I thought the West Indies might be my bogey team, so I really wanted to put a big one on the board," Warner told Grandstand after play.

Marsh was eventually caught at slip after smearing across the line at Warrican and Peter Nevill (7 not out) enjoyed a brief net to spare him the indignity of going an entire three-Test series without facing a ball.

But in the end the match was called off with the score at 2 for 176 from 38 overs, an anti-climactic end to a series that at times was underwhelming, but nonetheless contained some performances of heart.

The West Indies had scrapped back, Australian fans had plenty to cheer, and there was no better story than Adam Voges - the 36-year-old batsman who recently scored an emerging player of the year award, walking away with the first Richie Benaud Medal.

The next Test stop is New Zealand in February, a far sterner Test of Australia's batting, after the coloured-clothing action of the men's and women's Big Bash Leagues and the one-day international series through January.