Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 2012 December 13, 2012

Australia's near-total dominance

Australia, who have dominated Sri Lanka completely both home and away in the last decade, start clear favourites in the Test series beginning in Hobart

Such has been Australia's record in head-to-head contests that it is virtually impossible to expect Sri Lanka to pose a serious challenge in the three-Test series beginning in Hobart. Although Sri Lanka lost both Tests on their last tour of Australia in 2007-08, they put up a serious fight in the second Test before going down by 96 runs. Australia have been the only team to regularly win in Sri Lanka too - in their last two series in Sri Lanka, Australia won 3-0 and 1-0. Following the retirement of top players, Australia have had to work much harder for their success but are still a force to reckon with at home, Since 2007, they have lost three home series (twice to South Africa and once against England) but have a 11-1 record at home against major subcontinent teams (excludes Bangladesh).

Sri Lanka have struggled both home and away in the last two years following Muttiah Muralitharan's exit. Since 2010, Sri Lanka have lost one and drawn four home series with their only triumph coming against Pakistan earlier this year. Sri Lanka, who are yet to win a single Test in two countries (Australia and India), will draw confidence from their performance in last year's Boxing Day Test in Durban when they went on to register their first win-loss ratio of 11.00 (Tests since 1990) against Sri Lanka is the best among all head-to-head contests (excluding Bangladesh games).

Sri Lanka's Test record against Australia (since 1990)
  Played Wins Losses Draws W/L ratio
In Australia 7 0 6 1 0.00
In Sri Lanka 12 1 5 6 0.20
Since 2000 (in Sri Lanka) 6 0 4 2 0.00
Since 2000 (in Australia) 4 0 3 1 0.00
Overall (since 1990) 19 1 11 7 0.09

In the 2004 series, which was dominated by Shane Warne's successful return to cricket following his ban, Australia conceded leads of 161 and 91 runs in the first two Tests in Galle and Kandy but managed to turn the matches around with impressive batting displays in the second innings. Sri Lanka, who lost the series 3-0, averaged 28.75 while the visitors averaged 35.68. The average difference (difference between batting averages of Australia and Sri Lanka) was higher in the subsequent series in Australia. In the 2004 series in Australia, the hosts dominated the contests and scored four more centuries than Sri Lanka. However, the average difference (89.28) was the highest by far in the 2007 series in Australia which the hosts won 2-0. Apart from Kumar Sangakkara, who played an outstanding innings of 192 in Hobart, no other Sri Lankan batsman looked comfortable in the conditions in Australia. The 2011 series in Sri Lanka was also dominated by Australia, who won 1-0. The visitors won a low-scoring first Test in Galle by 125 runs and dominated the drawn second Test in Pallekele where Michael Hussey and Shaun Marsh scored centuries. Not only did Australia score more centuries in the 2011 series, they also ended with a much higher batting average than the hosts (average difference 7.23).

Stats of two teams in series since 2000
Series Result Australia (bat avg) Sri Lanka (bat avg) Avg diff Aus (100/50) Sri Lanka (100/50)
2004 (in Sri Lanka) 3-0 (Australia) 35.68 28.75 6.93 3/6 1/3
2004 (in Australia) 1-0 (Australia) 31.20 23.60 7.60 7/4 3/6
2007 (in Australia) 2-0 (Australia) 118.45 29.17 89.28 5/7 2/4
2011 (in Sri Lanka) 1-0 (Australia) 36.12 28.89 7.23 5/4 2/8

Hussey was outstanding in the last series played between the two teams in 2011 scoring 95 in the first Test and centuries in the second and third Tests. He has been virtually untroubled by both Sri Lankan pace bowlers and spinners averaging 121 and 99.75 against them respectively while scoring at a fair clip. Michael Clarke, who became the first player to score four double-centuries in a calendar year, averages 62.33 and 81 against the fast bowlers and spinners. Phillip Hughes, who is likely to play at No.3 following Ricky Ponting's retirement, has been comfortable against pace (average 57.00) but has struggled against spinners (average 29.33 with three dismissals).

Sangakkara, the top run-getter in Sri Lanka's previous series in Australia, has an average of 45 against both fast bowlers and spinners. However, he has managed a much higher scoring rate (3.89) against the slower bowlers and has been dismissed four fewer times. Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's captain, has found the going tough against Australian pace bowlers falling 14 times (average 24.71). In contrast, he has looked very comfortable against spinners averaging 102 (three dismissals). Tillakaratne Dilshan, who averages just 29.28 in eight Tests against Australia, has fallen nine times to fast bowlers (average 26.44) and five times to spinners (31.00).

Batsmen against pace/spin in Australia-Sri Lanka Tests (since 2004)
Batsman Pace (Average/ dismissals) Pace (scoring rate/balls per dismissal) Pace (Average/dismissals) Spin (scoring rate/balls per dismissal)
Michael Hussey 121.00/3 3.95/183.6 99.75/4 3.23/185.0
Michael Clarke 62.33/3 3.22/116.0 81.00/3 3.92/123.6
Phillip Hughes 57.00/2 3.45/99.0 29.33/3 2.37/74.0
Kumar Sangakkara 45.00/10 2.69/100.2 45.00/6 3.89/69.3
Mahela Jayawardene 24.71/14 2.19/67.5 102.00/3 3.03/201.3
Tillakaratne Dilshan 26.44/9 3.05/51.8 31.00/5 4.02/46.2

Australia shockingly lost the Hobart Test against New Zealand on a surface designed to suit the pace bowlers. The batting average in Hobart is highest in the first innings(41.21) but falls to 27.22 in the second innings. The corresponding numbers in the third and fourth innings are 36.62 and 29.90. In Melbourne, the averages in each of the four innings are below 35 with the lowest coming in the fourth innings (23.75). Sydney, the venue for the third Test, has been an excellent batting wicket in the second innings (average 48.25). However, the average falls to 33.57 and 26.88 in the third and fourth innings. Spinners have been quite effective in Hobart picking up 34 wickets (average 36.26) while pace bowlers have picked up 90 wickets at 33.00. While fast bowlers have completely dominated the stats at the MCG picking up 177 wickets at 27.74, spinners have managed just 50 wickets at 41.44. Spinners have picked up a significant percentage of the wickets in Sydney but have a higher average (39.12) as compared to the pace bowlers (34.77).

Venue stats for the Test series (since 2005)
Venue 1st inns/2nd inns 3rd inns/4th inns Pace (wkts, avg) Spin (wkts, avg)
Hobart 41.21/27.22 36.62/29.90 90, 33.00 34, 36.26
Melbourne 32.86/34.75 29.55/23.04 177, 27.74 50, 41.44
Sydney 32.55/48.25 33.57/26.88 187, 34.77 93, 39.12


Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter on December 14, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    @Joseph Langford. That was a gee-up, right? One test win in over 30 years is not dominance? Interesting take on reality.

  • DINESH on December 14, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    SINHAYA: Still the 2004 series is fresh in my memory. It was a fantastic duel between Warne and Muralidharan. All the 3 matches were fully dominated by SL. But one session of bad approach SL suffered a whitewash. As regards to your comment about test wins with India in India, don't worry, when Dhoni and Tendulkar is in our team, your team can achieve that too in the days to come.

  • DINESH on December 14, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    CHRISTOPHER MACKAY AXTENS: Actually Steve Waugh started his career as captain with a loss to Sri Lanka. From the next test onwards they were unstoppable and won 16 continuous matches.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    Bangladesh would be better opponents than this SL team !!! .... Another "whitewash" by Ozzies ! Yaaaaawn...... :-/

  • Ben on December 14, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    @Joseph Langford, yes, dominance. One test win since 1982, combining home and away tests, is exactly that, dominance. Sri Lanka have never even come close to winning in AUS (Hobart last time was their closest and still a long way off in reality). Should be an easy series whitewash barring rain, tho the Sri's did show they can pull a rabbit or 2 from the hat as they did in South Africa last tour.

  • Sheik on December 14, 2012, 1:43 GMT

    sorry figures deservedly for a sorry team.. yet they're touted as the best "touring SC team" by their supporters.. what a sorry bunch !!!! as some one had very well put up - "24 year old duck"....need we say any more ?

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 23:52 GMT

    No mention of Sri Lanka's home series win against Steve Waugh's Australians in mid 1999. Steve Waugh's 2nd series as Australian captain away from Australia. The match lost was the 1st game where he(broken nose) & Jason Gillespie(fractured upper leg) had a horrendous crash into each other during Sri Lanka's 1st innings. The 2 remaining test matches were rain curtailed events.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 20:28 GMT

    Dominance??? In the 1st Test of the 2011 Series against Sri Lanka, the only win of the series, Australia were 5/157 and 7/130. Take away the runs scored by the last 3-wickets in both innings, 39 and 80, and you almost have a different result.

    Clarke's inability to captain was at the forefront this time last year where he was out-captained in the series against New Zealand. There was his Lucky Test Century in the 1st Test followed by an absolutely disgraceful collapse in the 2nd Test. There would be no lower order batsmen to save him as they did recently in Sri Lanka and South Africa.

    If the Sri Lankans can put some runs on the board and we witness another series of top order batting colapses .... it could be a very interesting Test Series.

  • Prashan on December 13, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    From 1982 till today, our worse test record is against Aussies both home and away. With England, South Africa etc we have 7 and 5 wins respectively when you add home and away. Sadly we have squandered winning positions we have against Aussies as we had in 2004. With India all 6 of our test wins have been at home. Well if we managed to pull a win in South Africa last year, nothing can stop us doing the same in Australia as we will have large crowd support. But we wont get a parched surface like Durban anywhere in Australia. DRS will ensure that there will be no umpiring howler.

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