Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13 December 29, 2012

Worst Test I've been involved in - Ford


Graham Ford was coach of South Africa when his team subjected Sri Lanka to their worst Test defeat ever, in Cape Town, vanquishing the visitors by an innings and 229 runs. He now finds himself with the team he helped demolish at Newlands on the other end of a one-sided result. The disappointment feels worse than any game he has ever been involved in, he said.

Sri Lanka avoided beating their own worst loss at the MCG, but did not manage much better in their biggest Test of the year, losing inside eight sessions, by an innings and 201 runs. It was a loss characterised by their lack of resolve, particularly with the bat, as they fell for 156 in the first innings, before losing three for three, then 13 for four in the second innings, as they attempted to save the Test, having conceded a 304-run first innings deficit.

There were few redeeming aspects of Sri Lanka's performance, save a silken 58 from Kumar Sangakkara in the first innings which took him over the 10,000 run threshold in the same number of innings in which Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar also achieved the milestone. Sangakkara will take no part in the remainder of Sri Lanka's tour in Australia however, having fractured his hand when he was hit by a Mitchell Johnson bouncer in the second innings.

"It's not a good feeling at the moment," Ford, the Sri Lanka coach, said after the match. "Right now it feels like it's the worst Test match I've been involved in. I don't think I've been involved in a defeat inside of three days. It's been quite difficult to find that many positives out of this one apart from Kumar's wonderful milestone.

"I was surprised at the lack of fight. I have often spoken about the fight that Sri Lankan cricketers have. What I've become accustomed to is a lot of fight. Admittedly a lot of that fight has been more in the one-day format than in the Test match format, but we have shown some good fight in Tests. Australia got some really good momentum going and we didn't get the start that we wanted."

Sri Lanka's bowlers also performed creditably in patches, creating an avenue back into the match when they removed the Australia openers and Phillip Hughes in quick succession on the first evening, but poor catching thwarted their efforts. Shane Watson and Michael Clarke's 194-run partnership put Australia in command of the match, and set up their mammoth first-innings lead.

"Maybe if we held those catches - I know they were spoken about a lot on that first afternoon - that might have halted some of their momentum. But they got to the point where the momentum just became too much for us. Unfortunately with a few things going against us with injuries, we weren't up to it."

The injury to Sangakkara means reserve batsman Dinesh Chandimal is almost certain to play in the third Test in Sydney. Chandimal may also take the gloves at the SCG, with Prasanna Jayawardene also under an injury cloud, having sustained a fractured thumb as a result of another Johnson bouncer. Either fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep or offspinner Suraj Randiv is also likely to start, with Nuwan Kulasekara's cracked rib likely to rule him out of contention. Chanaka Welegedara has also been ruled out for the Test, after tearing his hamstring on day two in Melbourne.

"Chandimal is very, very keen to get on to the Test match stage. He's worked extremely hard throughout the tour. So for him if he does get on and play, it will be a great opportunity for him.

"The injuries are a challenge. At the moment, we are still discussing and assessing the damage. That's something we're going to have to talk about. We have got back-up in the squad and I know that the back-up has been working extremely hard. And sometimes out of injury, careers are made. People get opportunities and they can grab them. One of our young guys will get to play in a New Year's Test in Sydney and if they can play well, they can establish themselves as Test players and gain great confidence from it."

Ford also said he would like to have the services of Lasith Malinga for the final Test, but believed it to be impossible for the fast bowler to make a Test comeback in time for Sydney. Malinga is in Australia playing in the Big Bash League at present.

"We certainly need him, but that's a contractual issue that I'm not involved in at the moment. He's contracted to the Big Bash at the moment, and not available to us."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on January 1, 2013, 1:02 GMT

    I feel Ford over-reacted with his "worst Test" comment... You lose though injury your wicketkeeper before he can field, then your no.1 seamer in his 4th over, finally your most consistent batsmen when fighting to recover - any team would have been in deep trouble trying to avoid a loss... Clarke & Watto both dropped before scoring 10 would have changed the match in SL favor, a fairly easy stumping goes begging - the keeper was badly missed in this match...

  • Heshan on December 31, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    well said Prabhash1985..! i quite agree.we shouldnt blame our plyers.they are humans too.

  • Janaka on December 31, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    It's not a war that we got defeated. It's just a Cricket match. Why do you forget all the good they did, and just speak as if they are the most selfish people on the planet? I hate this sort of attitude towards our team. They did everything they could. All those catches, NONE of them are easy chances. I watched the match live. It's not statistics I speak of. Beating Australia in Australia is always a tough thing. Keep supporting the team, rather than speaking nonsense. Help them to win the game, at least by a single word. Mahela has lot of cricket left, so as Sanga. But, they are to throw away their positions, help young people to get into better positions. But, there is none to take the chances. Honestly I expected Chandi get some chances, but he did not, because we thought they must have an experienced side to face Aussie attack. Let the game go. It's not a war. It's just a game. In game, you lose, you win, but life goes on. Try playing with leather ball in a good track,its terrible!

  • Sugath on December 31, 2012, 14:31 GMT

    When you do not do basics right, cancel Test Series in favor of T20 crusade what can you achieve. Too much focus on T20 and not test cricket has lead to this pathetic situation. A second 11 from Sri Lanka would have done better than the laden footed players. At least for the third test do a SWOT, look to strategic alternatives and not try to copy what Aussies doing and go with three ineffective seamers

  • Dummy4 on December 31, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    How can a side improve when their own cricket board cancels test tours?

  • Manoj on December 31, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    Well said Graham atleast you take ownership but its not your problem the players need to perform.We have seen no comments like yours from Batting Coach,Bowling Coach and even from the fielding coach sad but its true thats our ownership responsibilites they take.I hope you will stir and shake up few changes in our team for betterment of our cricket.

  • Dexter on December 30, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    As the Sri Lankan coach, Graham Ford needs to take responsibility for the worst Test defeat too. Is Graham's comments aimed at annoying the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and ending his contract earlier?

  • Jason on December 30, 2012, 4:08 GMT

    @jonesy2 there you go again,the worlds best cricket side,you have the best all rounder in the world,the Best spinner in the world and the best top 3 in the world.face the truth you are going to get beaten by England.

  • Inazir on December 30, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    I believe Thissara Perera could do better in these condition than Nuwan pradeep and nuwan kulasekara.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    @Muhammad Moosa: "Yet,it is the batting which is the determining factor down under.Guys like Smith,Cook,Trott,Kallis,Amla,A.B and K.P. ... The best the Lankans can hope for is some pride but thats important as well." Might want to check Statsguru out. Here are the the averages of the batsman you list, when playing in Australia against Aus. Some are good, but several are pretty average: Smith: 39.36 (subpar), Cook 65.12 (excellent), Trott 89.0 (even better), Kallis 46.84 (OK, but nothing to write home about compared with other post 2000 averages), Amla 57.81 (excellent), AB 44.73 (about the same as JK), KP 56.66 (excellent). Other important batsman from the recent past: SRT 53.20, Lara 41.97, Dravid 41.64, VVS 44.14. Given your disparaging remarks about Sri Lankan players should mention that there is at least one that compares favorably with this list: Sanga 60.33. As is well-known his average increased greately once he gave up wk duties. In Aus his non-wk ave is 77.28

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