Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 1st day

Stilted showing from Sri Lanka's pace bowlers

If Sri Lanka are to leave Australia with a win, the pace attack must quickly learn to hunt in a pack

Andrew Fernando in Hobart

December 14, 2012

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Chanaka Welegedara picked up important wickets on the first day, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 1st day, December 14, 2012
Chanaka Welegedara: "After lunch we got a good advantage from the wicket, and I thought we could have made more of that than we did" © Getty Images

In the weeks leading up to the Australia tour, Sri Lanka have been under no illusions about the lack of venom in their attack, nor has their captain been given to pretense. Rodney Hogg's ill-researched disparagement of Sri Lanka's fast men may have been dispelled to some extent by Australia's inability to dominate - even with their naturally aggressive top order - but the majority of the more moderate views voiced before the Test proved accurate: this is not a pace attack that Australia need to fear. Men on the square fence in the first session of the Hobart Test and a quickly-thinning slip cordon betrayed the visitor's own estimation of their bowling.

Bereft of canines capable of tearing into a fresh Australian top order, Sri Lanka gummed at the hosts for large periods, making Australia's day less pleasant than it could have been at times, but never worrisome. There were stretches of good pressure, particularly soon after lunch and later after Phil Hughes' dismissal, but these did not extend long enough to exact the clatter of wickets they required to take the hosts by the scruff.

There were balls that beat the bat, others that passed perilously by the stumps and still more whose unsuspected bounce and speed caused physical discomfort to Australia's batsmen, but these victories were not pursued far beyond their inception. Shaminda Eranga hit Michael Clarke in the thigh with the second new ball, and although Clarke was in some visible distress - limping singles and hobbling about the crease - neither Eranga nor his fast-bowling team-mates tested the extent to which Clarke was inhibited by the injury. A sustained spell of short bowling might have seemed like a waste of a new ball, but a batsman in pain would have had a Dale Steyn or a Morne Morkel adopt their most vicious lengths. Perhaps Nuwan Kulasekara doesn't have the pace to pull off a short-pitched barrage, but Eranga was regularly faster than 140kph and Chanaka Welegedara's pace improved as the day wore on. Clarke is likely to come back healed and rested tomorrow, and the opportunity will have been missed.

Each fast bowler delivered at least one good spell during the day, but their peaks arrived in single file. Too often one bowler built pressure from one end, but his team-mate released it from the other. In the morning Kulasekara had the ball moving away from the three top-order left-hand Australia batsmen, but Welegedara was wayward - going at around a run-a-ball, and Eranga was underwhelming. After lunch Welegedara rectified his line and increased his pace, but found Kulasekara could do little from the other end once the swing had disappeared.

It is an inexperienced attack, and these three fast bowlers have never appeared in a Test match together, but they must quickly learn to hunt as a pack if their team is to compete in Australia. They will feel that they bowled better than their collective return suggests - and there is truth to that belief, as Australia's progress was never that easy. But if one bowler cannot step up to support another who is going well, spells of the quality that were being produced intermittently today, will continue to go unrewarded.

"I thought if we got about six wickets today, we would have a good chance in the Test," Welegedara said at the end of the day's play. "In the morning we didn't get much from the wicket, but after lunch we got a good advantage from the wicket, and I thought we could have made more of that than we did. If we had bowled in partnerships, I think we could have done better, but I'm confident we can do that tomorrow, because we know how the pitch plays now."

Mahela Jayawardene had correctly noted before the series that without a fast bowler of exceptional menace, discipline and patience would be Sri Lanka's surest route to success. But unlike raw pace and hooping movement, those virtues cannot waiver, and require lengthy application if they are to yield wickets. It was clear that Sri Lanka's bowlers were in agreement with their captain, but they only delivered his plan in bursts on the first day, and Australia's batsmen were largely good enough to weather the difficult periods, then gather pace when respite was given.

Sri Lanka must now separate Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey on day two to prevent an Australian total as monstrous as the pair's form has been in the last 12 months. Their unbeaten century stand as stumps drew close on day one was almost a matter of habit. It is some time before Rangana Herath becomes a force in this match, and the visitors cannot wait for his mastery to come good, as it often does in the first innings at home.

"They batted well today, but the day is over and Clarke will have to start again tomorrow," Welegedara said. "Our bowlers will be fresh in the morning and if we can get him out early, we can keep them to fewer than a 100 more runs."

On day one, Sri Lanka's bowlers may have exceeded the extremely low expectations that men like Rodney Hogg had of them but, as a side aiming to leave Australia with a victory, they cannot be satisfied with just that. Their whole must be greater than the sum of their parts, and significant improvement is required to achieve that end.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 16, 2012, 16:55 GMT)

@Viraj_Hewage: I salute you for your comment, honestly.

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 16, 2012, 16:27 GMT)

Is India playing in a triangular test series with SL and AUS?

Posted by drnaveed on (December 15, 2012, 7:06 GMT)

mr hogg , what about your team's weakest bowling attack ?????????????. was'nt , it in the last test,against SA.when SA batsmen thrashed the AUS bowlers, and their bowling looked pretty ordinary on home ground. where were you than to comment ????????. i think you should concentrate more on your own bowlers than other team bowlers....

Posted by ColomboBoy on (December 15, 2012, 2:11 GMT)

Sri lanka is going to win the match and the series. Australia bowling is very weak and their batting is pathetic to say the least. Lions will hunt the kangaroos ... Australia will be trembling under the trousers on seeing the lions batting line up.. dilshan sanga, mahela thilan .. Australia come prepared with the excuses .. lol .. this is the worst australian team i have seen. lions roar and rock

Posted by bluefunk on (December 15, 2012, 1:30 GMT)

They might not be the quickest and might not inspire the most fear, but you have to acknowledge the fight the Lankan seamers are putting up. They've been admirably disciplined. If Lasith Malinga's body could still stand up to the rigours of five day cricket, SL would've had an especially sharp and challenging seam attack.

Posted by Viraj_Hewage on (December 15, 2012, 0:35 GMT)

the objective is to win the match. There are 11 players per team and a maximum of 5 days to achieve that ( subject to weather).

The role of the leader/captainr is to get the best out of the team to realise a win.

For example if the leader has 2 players with one leg , and bowlers who under arm , a win can still be achieved. Manage the available resources to achieve the ultimate , a win.

Being weak , strong or equal is relative , subjective and purely a matter of personal perception.

As a nation Sri Lanka has built a character of self belief , confidence and a " can do anything if we stand together " attitude.

A leader believes in his own ability and the ability of his troops to achieve greatest heights.

World is not perfect , nor is a cricket team. So Mr. Sri Lankan cricket captain , you have 10 players who are not perfect, Win the game for us. We believe you can. Lose in pursuit of victory , we will salute you. Do not give up.

Posted by gsingh7 on (December 15, 2012, 0:15 GMT)

@lankan mates, last i checked india is above sl in every wake of cricket, indian spinners and pacer did good job of finishing job at 330, lets see how much lions give away(600?),india did 1-1 draw in sa , sl never won any test in india from beginning of time , neither in aus,

Posted by Palitha-Ferdinands on (December 14, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

Hogg's ill researched comment had no effect on Sri Lankan pace attack. It is time for him to be quiet who ever he is. We all know who Brad Hogg is. Rodney Hogg?? No! It doesn't ring bell. well balance article Andrew. Keep it up.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 14, 2012, 22:28 GMT)

@gsingh7. Not sure why you are on SL's case so much, but "weakest" bowling attack? I guess yu missed the lot who toured down here last season then.

Posted by Crunchtime1 on (December 14, 2012, 21:57 GMT)

Is nuwan pradeep injured? (again), he bowls 140+ consistently when he is fit. But really, the SL attack lacks discipline more than anything.

Posted by r0ketman on (December 14, 2012, 20:59 GMT)

No wonder the World hates the Indian team and their fans!!! Their own team is losing to England at home quite embarrassingly, not to mention the recent 8-0 drubbing overseas, and I am seeing Indian fans talking trash about Sri Lanka!!! At least the Sri Lankans are not blaming the pitch for their own lack or ability! Forget Australian fastmen, Indian batsmen are now scared of the pace, length, and variations of Panesar in their own backyard, who bowls at roughly 45 mph!! This is from a Bangladeshi fan by the way, the so called "ordinary" team by Sehwag, who also claims the Indian team's performance against England is not "embarrassing". What a joke!:-)

Posted by OzWally on (December 14, 2012, 20:51 GMT)

Obviously @gsingh7 missed taking his medication this morning. So much hate here (and on the Ponting tribute article). Of course if I was staring down the barrel of losing a home series to a team that has won in India exactly 3 times in 80+ years, I guess I'd lashing out wildly too.

Posted by Nerk on (December 14, 2012, 20:19 GMT)

SL's pace attacked lacked confidence, rather than ability. They have been so beaten down by their home wickets, that when confronted by a wicket they would suit them they didn't know what to do. There is an embryonic pace attack here, one that can trouble opponents the world over. But they need to gain confidence. Perhaps a season for an English county, or even playing in the Lancashire leagues, would do these fellows a world of good.

Posted by reality_check27 on (December 14, 2012, 18:36 GMT)

come on uppercut 07 let me tell u this 8-0 yes we did lose but what about ur team they havent even won a test match in india and australia and so if india is a bad team which on current terms looks like then ur eam is worst because u havent even won a single teset match against the same team in india and if u would have read the article that was on crickinfo that srilanka has only better record than bangladesh in test in last 5 years think about it mate india has just lost their big players dravid laxman kumble and that is why u see this we will talk when mahela,sanga,dilshan and hearth retire same thing will happen to u it shows since murli retired u havent won a test series except against pakistan home and away

Posted by gosh01 on (December 14, 2012, 18:13 GMT)

@ gsingh7 : ha ha people like you make my day in these pages lols !! while getting thrashed by England on your home soil, still bothered about what your neighbour is doing !! typical indians !! for a change mind your own business and build a proper cricket team there first.

Posted by sword_master on (December 14, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

@gsingh7. Its really pathetic when you say such things. Indian team's quality was shown in the most brutal way in Aus and England. We have players way beyond their expiration date, totally overrated openers and spinners who pray on poor NZ n WI teams in home conditions and live on the false hope that they are just one match away from coming back to form and most importantly a confused,lost and dumb captain who has been exposed to the world that he doesnt have what i takes to succeed let alone lead a team. Our team really needs big changes. Sri lanka have historically tried really well and they are fully aware of their strenths and weakness unlike Indian team which even after losing 10 out of the last 11 tests against good teams will never ever learn. I am an Indian by the way. I obviosuly support India but atleast be a good sport.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 14, 2012, 15:56 GMT)

@gsingh7, remember Indians are the minnows as Afghanistan, Ireland and Kenya can maul India a part with utmost ease!

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

Yeah.we know that, we are competing with a high class team....but not against flat track bullies like India.ah sorry, now we cannot call them as flat track bullies as well. coz the way they are trashing by the mighty Englishmen on the flat tracks.guys could anybody please suggests another name for this so called minnow India.

Posted by I-Like-Cricket on (December 14, 2012, 14:52 GMT)

@gsingh7 ... Something that everyone else has failed to point out. Clarke is yet to score a double-century against the Sri Lankans. Yet he managed a double and a triple against India, who actually had a worse attack coming here than SL do right now, and to their credit at least they have more than one batsman in form before coming here too. They also have far less people in their country to build a team with and a board with far less money than India. I could go on for days and days about India's flaws if I were allowed but I think all the other repliers to your comment and myself have made our points.

Posted by sandy_bangalore on (December 14, 2012, 14:28 GMT)

This attack is still better than the pop-gun Indian attack! And as an Indian it pains to say that. Look at Heraths record for the year and compare it with the hyped Indian spinners. And piyush chawla..LOL!

Posted by nickcarter80 on (December 14, 2012, 14:24 GMT)

@gsingh7, Shame on people like you man. Sri Lanka has done much better than India in England and South Africa. You are criticizing the SL while England is thrashing apart the worst test bowling attack in the whole cricketing world. You are similar to people like Dhoni, who asks desperately for rank turners, when their batsman can't score runs even in good pitches. Sorry to say, but this ego is what destroying the Indian cricket. Accept your weakness and try to correct them before criticizing others.

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

@gsingh7 u better look ur country's progress, lions will fight as lions surely but not like indian foreigners in india who look like playing in england..D:

Posted by Uppercut07 on (December 14, 2012, 14:00 GMT)

@gsingh7, India is 87-4 after Eng posting 330. Do us a favor and save ur breath for the excuses after Eng beat India 3-1!! :D)

Posted by Rokkk on (December 14, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

@gsingh7, Mate you should worry about your own problems. England is bullying India at the moment in your own backyard.

Posted by SamRoy on (December 14, 2012, 13:49 GMT)

@Uppercut07 the real talent in cricket comes from SA as it caters to 2 teams, SA and England, and make them the two best teams in the world (SA better than England). And surprise surprise, only 8 million South Africans (white and mixed race) are interested in cricket.

Posted by gsingh7 on (December 14, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

writing is on the wall , sl will face same fate as indian team , 3-0 whitewash with three innings defeat is imminent for lankan lions, i wud like if they show some fight but with weakest attack to land on aus shores it seems mount everest to climb for minnows sl, sl is not even best in sc, last time i saw india beat them 4-1 at their backyards, keep this thing in mind ,,lankans..

Posted by trumpoz on (December 14, 2012, 12:26 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge, you obviously didn't watch any of the game today. This is not a wicket to boost test averages. Whilst not being the raging green-top of previous years, there is already inconsistent bounce..... on day 1. Have fun living in your deluded world.

Posted by Uppercut07 on (December 14, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge, battle of the 'minnows' is what's happening in Nagpur, both teams are so 'over-hyped' by respective media, that they can't perform on their home turfs(SA demolished Eng in Eng, and India is being schooled by Eng in India).

Consider their populations and u'll see, the 'real talent' in world cricket comes from Aus, SL and WI. These countries boast genuine raw talent when compared to England(southafrican A-team) and India( well 0-8, need i say more?)

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 12:18 GMT)

The author seems pretty hurt with the comments of Rodney but he should realize there are more than one person who think that pace is rare or simple missing product in Sri Lanka. There variety of medium-ish swing bowling serves them well in slow and low tracks where they deprive batsmen of any pace, bore them and then eventually make them play something hasty but not in other conditions. They need to learn from what has happened to India.

Posted by Lankan2 on (December 14, 2012, 12:13 GMT)

When scores are compared with the series played earlier between Top 2 test teams(South Africa and Australia), this score is better for the satisfaction of Sri Lanka.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 14, 2012, 11:49 GMT)

What a circus of minnow proportions. Cowan should've had a golden duck, and on yet another flat Aussie wicket designed to boost test averages the Sri Lankan slips should've held onto their chances. Let the Christmas battle of the minnows commence!

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