SYDNEY, Jan 7 (Reuters) - West Indies spurned the chance to make the final day of the drawn third test into a genuine contest by turning down Australia’s offer to chase a victory target of 370 from 70 overs at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
Three days of almost non-stop rain had set the dead rubber test firmly on course for a draw but, with an improved forecast for day five, Australia skipper Steve Smith said he had approached West Indies counterpart Jason Holder with an offer.
“I offered him 370 in 70 overs, which I thought was pretty generous,” Smith told reporters.
”It would take some good batting to get that on a day five SCG wicket but they weren’t up for the challenge unfortunately.
”They would have had to declare this morning, I would have declared nought for nought and then bowled lob ups for seven or eight overs or whatever it was, 370 off 70 I offered but they weren’t willing to take it.
“(Holder) said ‘give me five minutes’, went over to their team and had a little huddle, chat and he said their boys weren’t up for the challenge.”
Holder, whose team were thrashed in the first two tests of the three-match series in Hobart and Melbourne, said it had been a collective decision not to accept the offer.
“He came to us and made an offer and I went back to team and we just felt at this stage of our development it wasn’t the best thing for us,” he told reporters.
”We set out at the start of the series to bat out 90 overs each time we batted and to get past the 300-mark and that was one of the things that we wanted to achieve today and we achieved that.
“It was a team vote, team decision. It was about our development and the phase we were at. I just think it was the best thing for the team.”
Smith would have been hoping to set up a victory for a 3-0 series sweep that would have sent Australia above India into second place in the ICC test rankings.
The 26-year-old, who took over the captaincy from Michael Clarke last year, said he had discussed the legality of his offer with Australia coach Darren “Boof” Lehmann and explained how the “lob-ups” would have worked.
“I spoke to Boof who read through the rules and said you are allowed to do that kind of thing, that was on our cards today and unfortunately they didn’t come to the party,” he added.
”We want to try and win every game we play and today was a perfect opportunity to set the game up for a good chase and for the fans who stayed out this afternoon.
“So for us, potentially that could have been me bowling with three slips and two gullies and leaving every man up to try for them to hit as many as they can to make sure we got (what) was promised to them.” (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)