Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart

Sri Lanka seek first win in Australia

The Preview by Brydon Coverdale

December 13, 2012

Comments: 61 | Text size: A | A

Match facts


Rangana Herath appeals for a wicket, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Colombo, 2nd day, November 26, 2012
Rangana Herath is Test cricket's leading wicket taker over the past year, but can he transfer his home form to Australian conditions? © Associated Press
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December 14-18, Bellerive Oval
Start time 1030 (2330 GMT)

Big Picture

For Australian cricket fans, it will be difficult not to think that the main course has been served before the entrée. The battle with South Africa for the No.1 Test ranking has come and gone, all before the most popular part of Australia's international cricket season, the Christmas and New Year period. But as New Zealand showed with their victory in Hobart last summer, classic Test matches can pop up at any time, against any opponent, and now it is Sri Lanka's turn to attempt to produce the unexpected.

It is not that Sri Lanka are a weak Test team, far from it, but their record away from home is disappointing. Leaving aside Bangladesh, Sri Lanka have won only two away Tests in the past five years, and they are yet to win a Test in Australia. But they will take inspiration from their most recent Test in Hobart, when Kumar Sangakkara was driving Sri Lanka towards an incredible chase of 507 when he was wrongly given out caught off his shoulder. Had the DRS been around, it might well have become one of the greatest Test victories of all time.

Sangakkara is back, and along with Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan forms a formidable batting line-up. Sri Lanka's main issue is finding a way to take 20 wickets. But for all the talk of their less-than-threatening seam attack - Rodney Hogg said this week that ''Sri Lanka have the worst new ball attack that has landed on our shores ever" - Shaminda Eranga showed against the Australians on debut in Colombo last year that he is a bowler to watch out for, and he should enjoy the Australian conditions far more than those at home. Much will also depend on how Rangana Herath transfers his home form to the Australian pitches.

The Sri Lankan attack will be coming up against an evolving batting order. Australia's first Test in the post-Ponting era will also be their first with Phillip Hughes at No.3 and Shane Watson at No.4. It is an order they hope can take them through all of next year and a pair of Ashes series, but if there are any cracks in the plan or nerves amongst the batsmen, it is up to Sri Lanka to find them. Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey at Nos.5 and 6 could hardly be in finer touch, so it is all the more important that Sri Lanka don't let Australia's top order feast.

Form guide

(Most recent first)
Australia LDDWD
Sri Lanka LWDDW

In the spotlight

Phillip Hughes is only 24, but he has already had a number of incarnations in Australia's Test team. The previous one ended in Hobart last December, when he couldn't avoid edging to the cordon off Chris Martin, a recurring theme in that series against New Zealand. His return will come at the same venue, albeit batting at No.3 instead of opening, and facing one of Test cricket's less imposing seam attacks. All the more reason he must make use of this opportunity. Over the past year, Hughes has worked hard to improve his leg-side play and widen his scoring areas, but whether he can translate that to Test cricket is one of the big questions to be answered in this series.

Who is the leading Test wicket taker over the past 12 months? Graeme Swann? Vernon Philander? James Anderson? No, no and no. It's Rangana Herath, who since this time last year has collected 64 Test victims at 20.64. Although it is true that much of his success has come in home conditions - he took 20 wickets in the two recent Tests against New Zealand in Sri Lanka, and 12 against England in Galle - he will still be a challenging opponent for Australia's batsmen. In his newspaper column on Thursday, Michael Clarke wrote that Herath's accuracy and clever variations made him a difficult prospect, and in his first Test in Australia, in Hobart this week, Herath should take note of Shane Warne's oft-quoted advice: "If it seams, it spins".

Team news

Hughes has replaced Ponting in the side and will bat at No.3, with Shane Watson moving down to No.4. Australia's only real question was which bowler to leave out, and Michael Clarke announced on the day before the match that Mitchell Johnson would carry the drinks.

Australia 1 Ed Cowan, 2 David Warner, 3 Phillip Hughes, 4 Shane Watson, 5 Michael Clarke (capt), 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Peter Siddle, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Ben Hilfenhaus, 11 Nathan Lyon.

Dimuth Karunaratne will partner Tillakaratne Dilshan at the top of the order, with Tharanga Paranavitana having been dropped after struggling for his best form for some time now. Nuwan Kulasekara will play after sitting out of the tour match in Canberra, where Shaminda Eranga was the best of the bowlers. They will be joined by Chanaka Welegedara in the pace attack, with no room for Dhammika Prasad.

Sri Lanka 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Shaminda Eranga, 11 Chanaka Welegedara.

Pitch and conditions

There are showers forecast for the first four days of the game, which won't make conditions easy for the batsmen, especially on a Bellerive Oval surface that has been relaid this year and has resulted in some awfully seam-friendly conditions in Sheffield Shield matches. In the three games there this season, the totals in the first innings for the team batting first have been 112, 95 and 67. However, the curator Marcus Pamplin is confident that the Test won't suffer the same fate.

"With such a major restoration of over 70 cubic metres of soil of new black soil into the wicket table, the process of the clay to settle down will take time, but we believe we are in a far better position for a more consistent surface than at the start of the season," Pamplin said. "On the back of a good cricket pitch for the last Sheffield Shield game we think the Test pitch should play better and provide a good contest."

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka have only beaten Australia once in a Test match, in Kandy in 1999. The only remaining player from either side who was part of that game is Mahela Jayawardene
  • Sangakkara needs another 107 runs to reach 10,000 in Tests and become the 11th man to the milestone
  • This will be Australia's first Test in Hobart without Ricky Ponting since 1995, when David Boon was the only Tasmanian in the side against Pakistan

Quotes

"None of us will be taking Sri Lanka's bowlers for granted even though they may be largely unknown in Australia. It was our batting which let us down during the last Test in Perth."
Michael Clarke

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 14, 2012, 0:17 GMT)

Its funny to see some of the jealous comments from Aussie fans on here, jealous about Anderson, a bowler who has turned Australia inside out time and time again. No wonder Australian bowling is at an historic low when you can't identify real skill when you see it. And when it leads to innings after innings defeat in your own back yard. :)

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 13, 2012, 23:14 GMT)

This series is the ultimate battle of the Minnows. Flat decks will mean a comedic run-fest for both sides against club-rate bowling that both Australia and Sri Lanka will no doubt serve up. Clarke will get out-captained yet again, and the series will prove little for both sides. Get ready for the end-of-2012 Christmas Minnow Bash!

Posted by oval77 on (December 13, 2012, 23:14 GMT)

Australia are you _sure_ Phillip Hughes is ready?? I mean this guy is so seriously good he needs wrapping up in cotton wool and kept away from difficult series right? Are you sure this is the time to unwrap him? Couldn't you save that for the Ashes please? :)

Posted by Chris_P on (December 13, 2012, 22:54 GMT)

@ PrasadGunawardane, You are aware that Australia toured Sri Lanka with a much more inexperienced team just 12 months ago, aren't you?

Posted by Nuggett116 on (December 13, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

Wat happened to Chandimal???..... He looked a real GO last time I saw the Lankans play!!

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (December 13, 2012, 21:10 GMT)

With ponting gone theres no reason to follow this now average Ausie side anymore

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 20:50 GMT)

Come on Sri Lanka you can do it.

Posted by mamboman on (December 13, 2012, 19:55 GMT)

There won't be much love for SL in this series from the home crowds, I am afraid. Aussie fans hate Sri Lanka more than any other side - and with good reason, if you look at the history.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 13, 2012, 18:13 GMT)

This will be a good test for Herath on green tops. Great Paranavithana is left out.

Posted by deol84 on (December 13, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

good luck to the lankans,i am sure they do better than indians.

Posted by Essex_Man on (December 13, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

A couple of batting giants on each side, but otherwise two very ordinary teams. Nevertheless, should be a very interesting tussle.

freo75 - indeed, you're right!

Posted by yaksaya on (December 13, 2012, 16:21 GMT)

It seems Herath was the leading wicket taker for SL in the last year's SA tour: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/records/bowling/most_wickets_career.html?id=6566;type=series

MOM of the match that SL won: http://www.espncricinfo.com/south-africa-v-sri-lanka-2011/engine/current/match/514033.html

So he has to prove himself in Australian conditions now? I thought SA pitches are much more seamer friendly than Aus'.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

@CricHorizon:- its very funny fans like you worrying about other nations while currently India is teaching a lesson to cricket world how can be a worst test team in the history. afterfamous 8-0 from the aussies and englishmen , now started home defeats. its not finished yet Aussie will be done the rest, and then people like you can understand the real position of you.

Posted by jpeacock158 on (December 13, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

@PrasadGunawardane Agree with you about the Oz batters, no class other than Clarke and Huss. I'm sure after this series Haddin will be re-instated as the Test keeper anyway as Wade will probably fail again, in the long run I'm sure most in Oz see Paine as the long-term wk (providing he stays fit)

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

sri lanka will be chasing leather for Xmas and New year

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 15:02 GMT)

interesting to see what Eranga can come up with in these green tops, having said that i dont see our bowlers picking up 20 wickets unless the aussie batsmen are complacent and gifts us wickets..best bet would be rain and some solid resistance by our batsmen to play out for a draw

Posted by sheenu on (December 13, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

It is a very strange feeling to see punter not in the "probables" list!! I guess it will take a little time to imagine Australian test team without Ricky Ponting.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

Thank god Paranawithana is being left out.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

Sri lanka can't win in aussie....Go Aussie....

Posted by inefekt on (December 13, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

V-Man, have you actually been watching the Eng vs India series? India are absolutely woeful right now, Australia would probably rather face that team than this Sri Lankan team. If this series is batting practice for the Aussies then the series against India will be a game of backyard cricket against your little brother.

Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (December 13, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

Despite the predicting green pitch to start the TEST series in Hobart, i really don't understand the reason for the worry of Lankans and the big confidence of Australians. If you take the following line up for Australia to begin the post-Ponting era, i undoubtedly say that they are ordinary batsmen in TEST level except Clarke and Hussey, Line up =Ed Cowan,David Warner,Phillip Hughes,Shane Watson,Michael Clarke,Michael Hussey,Matthew Wade (wk),Peter Siddle,Mitchell Starc,Ben Hilfenhaus and Nathan Lyon. Even if you take Australia's bowling attack, its simply ordinary with no big marks in international level. Starc will be quicker and Lyon won't get any assistance as he was given in Galle slow pitch last year against SL.Other than them,Sri Lanka have played well against others before. If Lankan pacemen can lead the attack with little things like trapping batsmen by movement, change of pace and particularly along with teasing slow balls by Herath to get LBWs, SL will control the series.

Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (December 13, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

@ Sanjaya Dias: Your comment depicts the fact that your lack of capability on understanding what others have written. I have never mentioned that i am underestimating SL or i am criticizing them. If you still in confusion, please read it line by line. Further it shows that, you are unaware of what is happening in media. I am not the one who criticized the Lankan opportunity of playing in Aus during the Christmas period, but it was Mickey Arthur. If you really want, please listen to the latest ESPN radio which will prove you the fact. Plus many other media are stating the same. Moreover bare in mind that, even-though i am not using the word 'WE' in analytical articles of mine in Cricket, i am a Lankan Cricket fan!

Posted by ozwriter on (December 13, 2012, 11:57 GMT)

australia have upper hand. the top order can practice test cricket with the SL bowlers, good chance to create good form and runs out of nothing. warner/cowan/hughes by far the teams weakest link but with the SL attack, they may look like world beaters.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 11:36 GMT)

@Prasad. no one criticise given boxing day match to srilanka except few of people like you. SL is one of the top team in the world with having different strength than aussie or SA team. this could be a very close contest and hope our batsmen get something out of their skin to turn the things for their favouir

Posted by ShehanJ on (December 13, 2012, 11:17 GMT)

Rangana Herath's bowling figures come in Asian conditions. Let's see how he bowls on Aussie wickets.

Posted by V-Man_ on (December 13, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Which is exactly Australia is doing for the Indian and the ashes. Australian batting order is ridiculous. I don't understand why do the selectors think Watson is a top order test batsman. He is not. He doesn't even pass as an average test batsman. He should be batting at 6, which is where he started. There has been enough experiment with Watson. He needs to go back to number 6. I just don't get the thinking behind the idea that 2 of the most inform batsmen are batting at 5 and 6. I heard Watson in an interview saying that batting at 4 will allow him to bowl more. No it won't. He will be out to bat in the first 1 hour of the innings. Sri Lanka will probably get a thrashing from Australia. And that will give Australia a false sense of security. Good luck going to India with that.

Posted by Moppa on (December 13, 2012, 10:47 GMT)

@sneakybastard: Herath, 122 wkts in 25 matches at home, at 24 apiece; 42 wickets in 14 matches away, at 42 apiece.

Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (December 13, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

There is no point in thinking proudly on what Sri Lankans achieved in Hobart 5 years ago if you are a Sri Lankan fan, since the coming up pitch for tomorrow's game is completely a different one with loads of green on it. Whoever wins the toss, should bowl first with no hesitation. If Sri Lanka win, i thoroughly say that Mahela should open the attack with Eranga rather than Welagedara. Reason is, Kulasekara is definitely opening the attack with his swing and cutters. So SL must make the most of Eranga who has the pace, length and most importantly the sneak through ability in first few overs. So many criticisms are going on the fact that, Sri Lankans are given a boxing day TEST along with a Sydney TEST with no competitive attack to charge Australians in the Christmas period of the year, where Australians consider as the prime period of the year for their Cricketing summer. So it is all up to Sri Lankans to prove the fact that, they are still one of the Top TEST sides in the world!

Posted by lukecannon on (December 13, 2012, 10:17 GMT)

I think Johnson's exclusion will be welcomed by the Sri lankans. Poor from the team management. I thought he bowled quite well against the proteas.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

Good call to leave Johnson out. Team can carry - for now - one brittle young player (Hughes) but not a brittle older player (Johnson).

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (December 13, 2012, 9:50 GMT)

I really look forward to SL-Aus. Two teams that always play attractive cricket and always play to win and two teams that succeed and produce wonderful cricketers at a rate way beyond what their population may suggest. Also very pleased to see SL playing the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne in front of so many of their expatriate fans. With all this in prospect does it matter who wins? To the passionate fans of both sides, of course it does. I cannot lose and will just enjoy the great cricket. Let's hope the cricket can be a force for unity, equality and peace for SL, that most beautiful but divided island.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

considering the 2 batting line ups both teams are neck to neck. SL batters are more experienced where as pitches may suit aussies. fast bowling department aussies far ahead. spin, rngana is good bowler than Lyon. but who knows...... if SL batters up to the task they can deliver a much dreamed test victory....

Posted by Mahaanama on (December 13, 2012, 9:16 GMT)

According to past records Australia have the upper hand of this series. SL have a good batting line up though bowling needs to be improved. I hope to see a good fight from both teams irrespective of results of the series. Whatever results we get pls don't fight here.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (December 13, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

Waiting for the Michaels' show - starting tom. vs the Lankans. Clarke with the form is in will be a huge 'if ' if he don't get atleast 2 massive 3-figures done in the 3 matches. And who would bet against a triple in there somewhere- even Lara's 400 n.o -he had the records at his mercy during that glorious 300 vs ind last year - unselfishly opted to declare even though he had the chance to book the record in his name with 450 n.o and still thrash Ind with hours to spare... And other Mike Hussey.... well the SL bowlers will already be fed up at the sight of him ..... not that he is going to let off easily without another couple of massive tons vs his favorite opposing team... and in his current form.. SA on the receiving end of the best of Mike in 2 of the 3 tests...lucky enuf to get him cheap in 1 game to win the game and series... However Aus will want the young crop of batsmen to avail and make some big scores.Watson incl- needs to start put up big 100 scores to justify his spot....

Posted by sneakybastard on (December 13, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

Jammy Anderson? lol you just fired from Cricinfo for lack of subject knowledge. also I bet Rangana has proven himself on SA tour taking large portion of wickets, so dont tag him as home alone!

Posted by yorkslanka on (December 13, 2012, 8:25 GMT)

Good luck to SL but we have a really difficult taks to avoid a defeat in the tests and if we do, we have performed well..Personally, I am glad to see Karunaratne in the team(he must be given a fair run) and I think that Eranga will trouble a few..Not sure if we have gone too heavy on medium/quicks (if mathews bowls) with only spin from thilan and dilly but the report suggests the track favours pace(apologies for my own ignorance of Aussie tracks)..anyway hope it will be a good series...To all the Aussies on here, look forward to a good debate on the matches with you...good luck Sri Lanka...

Posted by SamAsh07 on (December 13, 2012, 8:21 GMT)

Saeed Ajmal instead of James Anderson would've been a better name in that probable list of leading wicket-takers. Lol @ Anderson, yeah right!

Posted by Moppa on (December 13, 2012, 7:49 GMT)

@sawifan, I agree. I did some quick research on Statsguru and could not find any instances of teams making 150 for the last two wickets in the 4th innings in any Test ever. In fact, Sri Lanka needed over 200 for the last two wickets, and Sangakarra was dudded with around 150 left. It is highly improbable that they would have won - if Sri Lanka are taking confidence from that game, I think they're kidding themselves. I find the pro-Johnson commenters hard to understand: "when he's on his day, he's unplayable" - that's exactly the point, he's hardly ever on his day. @B-Simon, Johnson's "x-factor" undermines the pressure built by other bowlers, and the absence of this "x-factor" is exactly what has made our bowling line-up substantially more effective since Johnson's injury a year ago. @Karnain, you can't believe that it took them so long, right? Paranavitana is useless. @Sujan Sririnangathas, you'd like to see Pradeep get a chance to increase his Test bowling avg of 345?

Posted by Andross on (December 13, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

Might I remind people questioning Hilfenhaus and Siddle's selection that Johnson and Starc were utterly toothless against SA's second innings on a bowler friendly pitch and conceeded more than 500? Siddle & Hilfenhaus are able to build pressure in a way that even the new reformed Johnson cannot. The only reason he got a go at perth was because the top four favorite bowlers were ruled out.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 13, 2012, 6:57 GMT)

@ jonesy2: How are Australia's Spin department doing these days...? :)

Posted by Karnain on (December 13, 2012, 6:32 GMT)

It's hard for me to believe that the SL selectors have finally dropped Tharanga Paranawithana. Steady opening partnership is a key factor in Tests. Hope Dimuth will grab this opportunity with both hands. It's unfortunate that Dinesh Chandimal can't find a place in the batting lineup. Anyway with Randiv & Paranawithana out, it's good start for the series

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 6:26 GMT)

why Siddle? I think even a medium pacer who can move the ball around will work against Sri Lanka we all know they will not be troubled by pace and bounce like India batsmen its the side-ways movement which puts them in trouble Southee and Boult proved it.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 13, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

why on earth would anyone think james anderson would be the leading wicket taker this year? im sorry but that little bit just tickled me

Posted by mfmfaiq on (December 13, 2012, 5:43 GMT)

don't care about the past.. In Sha ALLAH Srilanka Will Create History in Australia By Winning This Test Series!! Sanga,Mahela,Dilshan & Samraweera Playing their Last Tour in Australia so This Will Be the Chance & Our Batting Way Better than Australia With 3 Players Averaging 50+ in Test With Sanga Becoming a Legend of Cricket.. Come on Lions Lets Roar.......

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 13, 2012, 5:18 GMT)

Fairly happy with the team selected, considering injuries & SS form... For all of Watto's talk about being Pontings replacement, its about time he actually stood up with the bat & made more than 50's - Ponting did last summer against India, so Watto needs to hit some big scores to prove his worth @n.o.4 in this series...

Posted by sneakybastard on (December 13, 2012, 3:41 GMT)

I'm Sorry, did you just said home conditions? this spinner has proven his class on green SA tops! he's lot better than overrated Swann.

Posted by bridget01 on (December 13, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

back to the boring as bat guano non threatening Siddle and Hilfy pairing......bet the Sri Lankans are happy with the decision to leave out Johnson...... He was clearly asked questions of the Saffas in Perth and returned good match figures

Posted by 9ST9 on (December 13, 2012, 3:11 GMT)

Much as I'd like to SL do what they did last year in SA it seems such an uphill task for an ageing, injury plagued side that is nearing a point where it needs a complete overhaul.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 3:06 GMT)

I wanna see how the Aussies will fare against Welegedara. They did pretty well against South Africa's right-arm pacers, so lets him them against a lefty. What happened to Nuwan Pradeep? Didn't he play in the warm-up game? I would play him instead of Eranga or Prasad, just for his pace.

Posted by Kolpak1989 on (December 13, 2012, 2:50 GMT)

God I hope the top four fires in this series. Things really have to be bedded down before we head to India and everything should be watertight before we play England. The way that England is putting India to the sword makes me a little nervous that we might not have enough time to catch them in the quality stakes before the next Ashes.

Posted by freo75 on (December 13, 2012, 2:46 GMT)

Australian cricket will continue to be a laughing stock as long as it persists with the likes of Johnson and Hughes. England will be licking their lips at the prospect of playing this mob.

Posted by arcticbeatle on (December 13, 2012, 2:44 GMT)

Hard to believe Johnson has been left out. When he is on, he is unplayable.

Posted by magpie22 on (December 13, 2012, 2:34 GMT)

Why are Australia's two best batsmen by a mile batting a five and six? Hussey 3, Clarke 4, Hughes 5, Watson 6

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 13, 2012, 2:33 GMT)

The question we really need to be asking is has Phillip Hughes changed his technique? I read somewhere that he has. Without Malinga, Sri Lanka are unlikely to challenge his technique anyway but we should see if it is the same old Hughes who can't handle quality fast bowling or if this is a new Hughes who actually has a chance of doing something decent for Australia.

Posted by Nerk on (December 13, 2012, 2:17 GMT)

I think it is a good call to leave Johnson out. Aside from a few testing spells in Perth, a ground where he was supposed to destroy all comers, he was poor. Sri Lanka have a good chance of ambushing a Pontingless Australia side, as both sides have very similar batting line ups filled with a mix of experienced stars and upcoming young guns. The match will rest on the efforts of the pace bowlers, who have been disappointing for both sides in recent matches.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (December 13, 2012, 2:04 GMT)

I get that the ridiculous scheduling of the last 2 Sth African tests required bowler changes, due to fatigue, however it's gob smacking that the selectors couldn't see that the x factor of Johnsons unpredictablility and increased speed is exactly what is going to create chances in the future. Lyon is like offies of old - just there to give the real bowlers a rest - as he has no wicket taking menace. The sad thing is we've got a pedestrian attack, which is just screaming out for some unpredictability. That isn't enhanced by Watsons' inclusion. That's what Johnson brings to the team. I commend the work previously done by Craig McDermott as it's exactly what we needed. Get it up there and swinging. But there should always be a place for a player with some x factor and sadly at the moment Johnson is the only one in Aussie cricket who has opponents in 2 minds.

Posted by MaxB on (December 13, 2012, 2:04 GMT)

The headline on the home page says that Johnson has been "left out of the starting XI".

The "starting" XI? Does the writer know anything about cricket. It's just the XI - the same one that starts, finishes, and does everything in between.

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 13, 2012, 2:01 GMT)

Forecast is for rain periods &/or cloudy for the entire match so have no problems with Starc bowling his seamers along with Hilfy, Sidds - even Watto will get something out of the conditions... Unless the curator gives us a dead pitch it will be a battle of which team bats best - really glad Malinga is playing for the Melb Stars & not in Hobart...

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 13, 2012, 1:54 GMT)

Clarke really will have problems getting his top batters sorted out - what with Mitch Starc now averaging @43.75 with the bat & s.r. @74, then bowling @29 with s.r. @48 in Tests, he must be pushing for Watto's spot ;)

Posted by KingOwl on (December 13, 2012, 1:42 GMT)

"Sri Lanka have won only two away Tests in the past five years": True. Only thing going for SL is that one of those two was against the #1 in test cricket - SA. But I would think that beating Aus in Aus is harder for an Asian team than beating SA in SA. But I hope they do!

Posted by sawifan on (December 13, 2012, 1:28 GMT)

i remember that Sanga innings in Perth last time, and was bitterly disappointed when he was wrongly given out, but lets be honest, Sri Lanka were still a long was from winning. When Sanga went they were still 150-odd behind, and it was only after he was dismissed that Malinga hit out, making the margin a bit more flattering for Sri Lanka. Good game, yes. Brilliant innings, for sure. Realistic chance of a win, probably not. But we'll never know. Let's hope the Sri's can perform amiably on this tour. Hoping for some big runs for Hughesy too!!

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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