The 1984-85 Frank Worrell Trophy loss was significant for Australia. Kim Hughes’ tearful resignation from the captaincy after the Brisbane loss became cricketing folklore. New captain Allan Border began Australia’s slow rise to the top, winning the 1987 World Cup and the Ashes in 1989 and 1990-91.
When Mark Taylor took over in 1994 he’d inherited a powerful team. The Australian squad touring the Caribbean in early 1995 included Michael Slater, David Boon, the Waugh twins, Ian Healy, Shane Warne and an emerging Glenn McGrath.
With all this star power, it was Brendon Julian who set the tone in Bridgetown. He took 4/36 as the West Indies were dismissed for 195 in 48 overs. Healy (74 not out), Steve Waugh (65) and Taylor (55) gave Australia a lead of 151. McGrath (5/68) and Warne (3/64) combined to dismiss the West Indies a second time for 189. Taylor and Slater quickly erased the 39-run target, earning Australia a 10-wicket win.
After a draw in Antigua, the West Indies found their menace with a brutal nine-wicket win at Port of Spain. Australia was dismissed for 128 (Steve Waugh 63 not out) and 105. The West Indies only scored 136 (McGrath 6/47), but Curtly Ambrose (match figures of 9/65) and Courtney Walsh (6/85) ensured it was enough.
The final Test at Sabina Park is remembered for Steve Waugh’s 200. Chasing 265, Australia was in trouble at 3/73. The Waughs compiled 231, with Mark scoring 126. Greg Blewett (69) then joined Steve for a 113-run stand. By stumps on day three, the Frank Worrell trophy was all but Australia’s, with the West Indies 3/63, still 203 behind. Following the rest day, Paul Reiffel (4/47) and Warne (4/70) dismissed the West Indies for 213 to win by an innings and 53 runs.
Australia maintained their dominance in 1996-97 with a 3-2 victory. Healy scored a hometown ton (161 not out) as Australia won in Brisbane by 123 runs and Mark Taylor took “that” slips catch in the 124-run SCG win. Ambrose kept the series alive, taking 9/72 as the West Indies won by six wickets at the MCG. After a horrible Carlton and United series (Australia missed the final, with Pakistan beating West Indies 2-0), Australia found an unlikely hero in Adelaide. Michael Bevan was renowned for his brilliant “closer” batting in one day cricket, but Test success had eluded him. With Warne coming back from injury, the Canberran’s left-arm chinamen became crucial. He took 3/46 at the Gabba and 2/40 at the SCG. While Bevan was erratic – mixing the unplayable wrong-un with full tosses and long hops – he got it right in Adelaide. Bevan took 4/31 as the West Indies collapsed for 130. He scored 85 not out – supporting Matthew Hayden (125), Blewett (99) and Mark Waugh (82) – as Australia replied with 517. Bevan took 6/82 in the second innings to secure an innings and 183 run win. Ambrose’s final Test in Australia reaped seven wickets (and 30 no balls) as the West Indies won by 10 wickets in Perth.
The West Indies nearly won in 1999. Australia won the first Test easily but the West Indies won at Kingston (10 wickets) and Bridgetown (one wicket). Brian Lara hit 153 not out as the West Indies chased 308. While McGrath took 5/92 off 44 overs, Warne bowled just 24 overs for 0/69. Warne was dropped for the last Test at Antigua, which Australia won by 176 runs to draw the series. It was the last series for Healy, dumped for Adam Gilchrist and denied a Gabba farewell.
Australia’s 5-0 win in 2000-01 was the last long-form series. Merv Dillon finished with 16 wickets at 29.93 while veterans Lara (321 runs at 32.10) and Walsh (11 wickets at 43.72) tried their best, with Lara’s 182 in Adelaide the West Indies’ only hundred. The Waughs and Slater topped 300 runs while McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Colin Miller’s blue hair took 61 wickets between them.
The West Indies have won just one Frank Worrell Test since, with 14 losses and three draws. The sole win came in the final Test of the 2003 series. Chasing 418, Ramnaresh Sarwan (105), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (104), captain Lara (60) and Omari Banks (47 not out) helped the West Indies to 7/418 in 129 overs.
Thirteen years after his SCG double ton, Lara added one more in Adelaide 2005. He scored 226 from 405, including 202 on the first day. Of course, the West Indies collapsed in the second innings and lost by seven wickets.
Since 1995, Australia has won nine Frank Worrell Trophies, including seven in a row from 2000/01. They should comfortably make it eight straight this summer.