Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 2nd day December 15, 2012

SL batsmen's lack of focus costly - Ford

Sri Lanka's batsmen may have been scuppered by cluttered minds on day two of the first Test in Hobart, deems Sri Lanka's coach Graham Ford, as they slumped to 87 for 4 by stumps after Australia had scored 450 for 5. Sri Lanka could only remove Michael Clarke on the day, before Mike Hussey progressed to an unbeaten 19th Test century, putting on 146 with Matthew Wade.

Though Sri Lanka's bowlers had avoided being dominated for much of Australia's innings, they were milked for more than six runs an over in the 11 overs preceding Australia's declaration. Then, Sri Lanka's batsmen were not confronted with alarming movement, but largely lost their wickets to indiscipline while facing testing deliveries.

"Perhaps we weren't quite up to it with the bat today." Ford said. "I think the boys were busy thinking of what's gone on so far; hopefully we can come out in the morning and put up a good fight. They put us under a lot of pressure, batted superbly and got a lot of runs on the board, then with the ball they put us under a lot of pressure as well."

Tillakaratne Dilshan made a positive fifty, finishing the day unbeaten. He will resume on day three alongside Angelo Mathews - the pair comprise the two in-form batsmen in the side. Mathews was by far the highest run-getter for Sri Lanka in the recent series against New Zealand, and has also made his only century against Australia. Dilshan, meanwhile, hit a hundred in the tour match in Canberra last week.

"I don't think there [are] any demons in the surface," Ford said. "It's a classy bowling unit. They have put the ball in the right place and there has been some movement here and there. Dilshan has shown that if you focus you can handle what comes in your way.

"When the innings was in progress the batting coach was speaking to some of the batters who were due to come in and [about] one or two technical things that Dilshan was putting in place well."

Ford said Thilan Samaraweera's dismissal off what became the final ball of the day was especially difficult to stomach, because Sri Lanka had only one more over to see out before stumps. Samaraweera was caught behind off Nathan Lyon, who surprised the batsman with the bounce he achieved with his top-spinner.

"Losing the wicket at the end of the day is tough to handle. Disappointing. We almost thought that we got through with three down so it does hurt. I am sure if we can bat well when the match goes on Rangana [Herath] will come in and have an impact."

Left-arm spinner Herath went wicketless in the first innings, but is the second-highest wicket-taker for 2012 and has a superior average this year to Graeme Swann, who tops the list. There was little turn available for him, but Ford said his side had not expected their spearhead to be a force in Hobart.

"The records suggest that it's toughest for Herath to have an impact here. So probably at the other two venues he should come into the game a lot more, and that should give us a better chance. I am also very hopeful that our seamers are improving all the time. I thought Shaminda Eranga bowled well for a man who has three Tests under his belt. We have to try and see how he comes through. We got only five wickets, but he has given us something to be positive about. It will take an effort from the seam unit as well as the one bowler who is going to set it up. Hopefully everyone has learned from today, as it's important that seamers from the other end support Rangana Herath."

Ford also lauded the longevity of Michael Hussey, who now averages 125.28 against Sri Lanka, and has hit five of his 19 hundreds against them. "Just looking at how fit and quick he is between the wickets, that's really impressive for his age. At this stage he looks like he has a few good years ahead of him. He is a bloody good player."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • narbavi on December 16, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    @Sinhaya: Brother i am sure u will do a better job than our captain mahela, pls join the team!!

  • Ty on December 16, 2012, 1:23 GMT

    We should build a solid test team who can play in both conditions. Players who wanted to play IPL should not be considered. Don't let Indians to ruins SL cricket. Arjun was right. He was the only SL captian to win a World cup for SL. because of his guts and leadership. Both Sanga and Mahela failed in finals. Senior players tasted the IPL money and they are now more hungry for that and not interested in playing test cricket. So let it be and let's build a good test team away from money!!!

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    It is disappointing to see fans attacking the SL players and accusing them of not playing well for their country and only chasing money. These are the same players who played for months on end without pay for SL, the same players who deal with political interference, corruption and blatant mismanagement at the highest level. These are the same players who dodged bullets during the terrorist attack in Pakistan! It is absolutely shameful to see these pathetic comments by so called 'supporters'. Everyone is accusing Malinga, but no one remembers the 18 months he spent away from the game due to injury, how the board didnt even see to it that he received proper treatment. SL fast bowling stocks are already depleted and it makes sense for him not to play tests. It's also a personal choice for him. He is not well educated like Sanga and Co and his options after cricket are limited. He is from a poor background and has to earn for a lifetime in a 5-10 years. We were outplayed, nothing more.

  • Sage on December 15, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    Catches win matches and SL had few chances which they should have taken. If you look at the Kiwis series fielding was horrible and SL is still continuing the same way in this test. Mahela took a great catch but others too late to respond otherwise Aussies should have been bowled out. If you look at catch which Randiv almost took of Wade when he pulled the ball, even the bat pads catch of Hussey…no anticipation? SL fielding was horrible again. I think reflexes were slow and you cannot give a second chance to the Aussie batsmen. The single they scored easily should have been stopped. Mahela should have brought in the deep fielder closer and challenged Hussey and Wade to score. As I said to Sanga in the previous article it's time to deliver and not play rash shots. Sanga, Mahela and Tilan just threw away their wickets and had no patience at all. It's sad to see the top 3 SL batsmen failed again.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    Ford or who ever will never make anything of our useless fellows. They are only and only interested and give it all when they play IPL (Tell them about the money mummy). Disgrace to see them playing like school boys against international, professional cricketers. We have been in five major finals. Either our fellows get back handers? or they succumb to pressures and offer the games to others. Very sad when they do not care about their country of birth and all the millions who continue to support them.

  • Prashan on December 15, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    Mahela was too negative to start the day with a defensive field. Also, when Wade came out to bat why did n't he get the fielders closer? Samaraweera is the biggest culprit for not wanting to play the last over of the day. Biggest disappointment is that we negotiated the best deliveries Aussies unleashed, but got dismissed due to sheer rashness. Dimuth Karunaratne showed his lack of experience by not leaving the ball which was going away.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    lack of concentration from our batsman. what better example than Samaraweera's shot in the last over of the day

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