Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 2nd day

Clarke, Watson, Johnson streak hosts ahead

The Report by Daniel Brettig at the MCG

December 27, 2012

Comments: 138 | Text size: A | A

Australia 8 for 440 (Clarke 106, Watson 83, Johnson 73*, Warner 62, Prasad 3-102) lead Sri Lanka 156 by 284 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Michael Clarke drives, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, day two, Melbourne, December 27, 2012
Michael Clarke claimed the Australian record for most Test runs in a calendar year © Getty Images
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It is said of golf that the measure of a player can be gleaned less by the quality of their best shots than by the quality of their worst. On day two of the Boxing Day Test, Australia's batsmen played a handful of poor strokes, but they were far less frequent and consequently less terminal than those offered up by Sri Lanka's batsmen on day one.

None of Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Matthew Wade or Michael Hussey will be pleased with the manner of their dismissals to bowling that was more presentable than threatening. But of those only Wade erred before he had made any sort of useful contribution to what is now a handsome first innings lead. The tally was further bolstered by an impressively measured innings from Mitchell Johnson, who is making the most of this Test as though it may be his last.

By the close Australia were 284 runs ahead of Sri Lanka with three wickets left to fall, having taken suitable advantage of opponents who missed chances that had to be taken if the gulf opened up on the first day was to be narrowed. Losing the left-arm paceman Chanaka Welegedara to a hamstring strain, the visitors did their cause further harm by spurning chances to stump Clarke and catch Watson at slip before lunch.

Clarke capitalised by passing Ricky Ponting's record for most runs by an Australian in a calendar year on the way to a fifth century for 2012, and Watson did likewise by making his highest Test score in Australia for more than two years.

Watson succumbed to the maddening pattern of his career by falling short of a century, and Clarke did not advance far beyond one amid the loss of three wickets for four runs in mid-afternoon, but a cameo from Hussey and a more substantial stay by Johnson left the match more or less in Australia's keeping, much to the delight of a crowd of 39,486.

Resuming at 3 for 150, Clarke and Watson began cautiously, respecting the early spells of a Sri Lankan attack desperate to capitalise on the modest gains they made late on the second evening. A mere 11 runs were nudged and nodded from the day's first six overs, before the match took another turn away from the visitors.

Having already lost the wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene to a thumb fracture, Sri Lanka now winced at the sight of Chanaka Welegedara clutching his right hamstring and limping from the field. He was sent to hospital for scans while Mehela Jayawardene summoned Shaminda Eranga to complete the over.

Smart stats

  • Michael Clarke's aggregate of 1595 runs in 2012 is the fourth-highest overall in a calendar year and the highest by an Australian batsman. Clarke and Ricky Ponting (twice) are the only Australian players to aggregate 1500-plus runs in a calendar year.
  • Clarke's century is his first in eight Tests at the MCG. In 13 innings, he has scored 471 runs at an average of 42.81.
  • Shane Watson fell short of a hundred once again when he was dismissed for 83. In 69 innings, Watson has scored 19 half-centuries but only two centuries.
  • The 194-run stand between Clarke and Watson is the fourth-highest fourth-wicket stand for Australia against Sri Lanka and their second-highest fourth-wicket stand in home Tests against Sri Lanka.
  • The fourth-wicket stand is the highest ever in Tests at the MCG surpassing the 192-run partnership between Mike Denness and Keith Fletcher in 1975.
  • Mitchell Johnson's 73 is his eighth fifty-plus score in Tests and his first against Sri Lanka. It is the highest score by a No. 8 batsman at the MCG since Craig White's 85 in 2002.

Eranga briefly threatened to add further insult to the injury tally when he used his ankle to stop Watson's stinging straight drive, but he recovered sufficiently to keep bowling. Eranga drew nervy moments from both batsmen - Watson jamming down on a yorker that squeezed close to the stumps and Clarke showing his discomfort when trying to duck under a bouncer. But he also gifted four overthrows to Clarke when he threw wildly in the general direction of the stumps following a push down the wicket from Australia's captain.

Helped by the injury and the charity, Clarke and Watson accelerated, and a trio of milestones duly followed. First came Clarke's 50, which has been a common sight in 2012. Next came Watson's half-century, which has not. It was in fact Watson's first score of better than 50 on home soil since the 2010 Boxing Day Ashes Test, a match best forgotten by Australians. Watson then was a makeshift opening batsman; now he is a No. 4 of considerable destructive potential.

Finally, as the clock ticked towards lunch, Clarke passed Ponting's runs record. It was not a mark reached without some palpitations offering Sri Lanka their best chances of the morning. Still needing two runs, he advanced somewhat hazily down the wicket to Rangana Herath, misread the line and the lack of turn, and was fortunate that Kumar Sangakkara was unsighted as the ball passed between Clarke's legs, precluding a clean take and a stumping.

Later in the same over Watson offered a simpler opportunity to Jayawardene at slip, his cut eluding the hands of the Sri Lankan captain. Clarke calmed down sufficiently to push the single that took him past Ponting, acknowledging the warm applause of the day two crowd with a wave of his bat. Clarke sought further glories beyond the interval, and skipped to his century with six boundaries in the hour after resumption, the last a swivel pull to fine leg to register his first Test hundred at the MCG.

Eranga generated some useful pace and bounce with the Great Southern Stand as his backdrop, and it was one of these deliveries that did for Clarke, who drove aggressively but minus sufficient precision to avoid a snick to his opposite number Jayawardene. Sri Lankan relief turned to glee when two more wickets swiftly followed.

Watson undid 197 balls of concentration with a hook at his 198th despite two men being posted deep for the shot, Dhammika Prasad the beneficiary when Thilan Samaraweera held the catch.That exit gave Watson the unseemly ratio of 19 50s and only two centuries in his 38 Tests. Wade perished in a similar fashion, swatting Prasad to Eranga in the deep having made only a single, and Hussey was fortunate a thin edge from Herath fell short of Jayawardene after rebounding off Sangakkara's pads.

That half-chance would be the only real glimpse of a wicket until Hussey and Johnson added an important 61, staving off the subsidence of the tail before the lead had been added to. They were parted by an extraordinary, one-handed catch from Herath when Hussey lofted wide of long on, but Johnson went on to the sort of score his batting talents have threatened rather more than they delivered. Unlike the batsmen on both sides, it may be said that so far in this innings he has seldom missed a fairway.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 28, 2012, 6:54 GMT)

There are some Australian in denial about the state of Australian cricket however every English fan that comments seem to inflate there own team. Time will tell where both teams sit.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 28, 2012, 6:52 GMT)

cook_no1_test_opener - I dont claim that Australia will beat England in the upcoming Ashes however I know it will be a contest. You say there is a stark contrast between Australia and England in test cricket I take excemtion to this. Using the guide of form against South Africa it will be very close. The truth is England have never dominated Australia, last series in England if it was not for England narrowly holding on in cardiff then the series would have been ties. As for the last series in AUstralia - we played 2 shockers to finish the tour, this is the only domination you have over us. I agree the top order is not as strong as it used to be, but we have a good enough team to regularly score between 400 and 450 totals that you shouldnt lose with, yes spin is in free fall as no-one could ever replace Warne he was so good however we have only fallen to the English level. Lyon average is around 30 on unforgiving Australian pitches for spin bowling where the likes of Swann av above 40

Posted by boxer44 on (December 28, 2012, 3:16 GMT)

Total domination by Aus. SL showed that there is a big divide between Aus, Eng, SA and the rest of test nations

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 28, 2012, 2:58 GMT)

@jb633 :- "Personally I would not have Hilfy near the Ashes squad as the English guys love batting against him"...

Yeah, right - lol... Hilfenhaus last tour to Eng he played 5 Tests, 22 wkts @27.45 - if he's the worst of our bowlers, you are going to be in deep trouble...

That you leave out Cummins, MJ & Bird shows your lack of knowledge on our Oz bowling stocks - as it type MJ has taken out the 2d Sri Lankan out of this match & Test tour & picked up his 6th wkt just afterwards...

Posted by Greatest_Game on (December 28, 2012, 2:23 GMT)

@ rickyvoncanterbury I think you might be jumping the gun calling the Oz bowlers "the best attack in the world." Having just lost a home series, and sitting well behind SA in the ICC test bowling rankings, that title is a pretty hard sell for Oz's ever changing bowling lineup. Oz will have to be able to field an attack that can last more than 2 tests before they start making such grand claims. (The Poms were making that claim 6 months ago, and look at them. Broad & Bresnan are finished, wobbly knees Finn breaks down as often as Watson, & Anderson is their speedster! Ouch.) I must admit that Johnson, who was reviled by so many Aussie posters here, is making a pretty strong comeback, and he & Siddle could make a pretty strong nucleus, with potentially very strong support from Starc, Pattinson & Cummins IF they can stay fit. Be a while before they can displace Steyn & Co tho.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 28, 2012, 2:18 GMT)

Clarke is averaging over 100 batting at number 5, the only people that would change that are the English supporters simply because they are scared they wont get him out. Its working so well cant see any logic in changing it. Some critics will always cry that he scared of the new ball but that will be long forgotton shortly after retirement as I havent heard any of those references for Border, Waugh even Tendulkar and Lara only batted one positon higher. Front_Foot_Lunge you have completely lost it battle for 7 and 8, Australia have only lost 4 of there last 20 tests, winning 11 of them how have England gone lately. jb633 - under your logic no use playing Swann in the Ashes and minus well forget Anderson as there Ashes record is worse than Hilfenhaus.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 28, 2012, 0:02 GMT)

All far too easy. On with the Christmas Minnow Big Bash then. Just how long can this epic battle between a bunch of has-been who have fallen out with their board and the weakest team Australia have ever fielded drag on for?

Posted by ozziespirit on (December 27, 2012, 23:54 GMT)

@dunger.bob, The truth is Australia have been in free fall with their top order and bowling, especially spin department for five years or more. That is a slide down, and they've ended up in obscurity. And I do find it amusing how some posters here flatly deny the stark contrast between England and Australia at test cricket, even going to nefarious means like masquerading as English fans to make a comically inept attempt to twist the debate away from Australia's failings. I hope you enjoyed the display. Credits go to my name sake with the lowercase 'l', of whom I'm always flattered he chose to copy my username for quality purposes.

Posted by ozziespirit on (December 27, 2012, 23:42 GMT)

@disco_bob You speak highly of fanciful scenarios but say I were to mention the number '766', or any of the events over the last five years of England's dominance over Australia, I wonder if you'd be so bold in your assertions.

As for 'valient' Clarke, you'd be hard pressed to convince anyone outside your bubble of the appropriacy of that adjective with a guy that hides at five in the batting order, and never faces a seaming or swinging ball because his technique just isn't up to it. England have a big grin on their faces just thinking about bowling next year at Aussie newbies with flawed techniques and the same old amateurs they trounced in the last five years of Ashes.

Posted by ozziespirit on (December 27, 2012, 23:40 GMT)

@rickyvoncanterbury, What an irony, it was England that famously whitewashed the then great India with their list of batting superstars, took the number 1 from them, and so set them up on a plate for Australia. Quite a selective memory.

@Cricket-tragic-AU, Well done on a brave attempt to sidestep the fact that Australian fans going cock-a-hoop over a series involving a tragically weak Sri Lankan team, afflicted by a has-been batting line up who have all fallen out with the Sri Lankan cricket board, is like the Skegness 3rd XL celebrating promotion to the Featherstone Brewery Second Division when compared to the skill that England showed in batting on minefields in India.

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (December 27, 2012, 23:09 GMT)

I have to agree with other comments here - the English trolls have completely lost it. When I checked on Boxing Day to see how the biggest match in the cricket calendar was progressing, these troll tragics had been busy posting on Cricinfo ........... on Christmas Day. So, while most of us were celebrating with family and friends they could find nothing better to do. It's time for these sad cases to seek professional help. Maybe some assistance is available on the NHS.

Posted by leggetinoz on (December 27, 2012, 23:08 GMT)

If Michael Clarke keeps scoring centuries and double centuries at a decent strike rate for fun then i am happy for him to "hide" down at number 5 for as long as he wants.

Posted by wellrounded87 on (December 27, 2012, 23:03 GMT)

@Martin Nosworthy I think SA are the best attack purely for their durability. Unlike australia they have a very stable attack that doesn't 'rotate' and isn't so injury prone. The best aussie attack would have to include Ryan Harris who's average is 23.63 and Pat Cummins who's averaging 16.71 however they have 13 tests between them 1 for Cummins and 12 for Harris much to the frustration of us aussies to get 13 tests from 2 players over a combined 3 and a 1/2 years

I think the Aussie attack is the deepest with Starc, Hilfy, Johnson, Pattinson, Bird, Cummins and Harris proven performers with Hazlewood and Cutting chomping at the bit to get a call up. And if they could keep harris pattinson and cummins fit they'd have a real chance at dethroning SA for the top spot.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 27, 2012, 22:42 GMT)

@ jb633 : I can't see Hilfy going to England this time. Aus. will play 3 quicks, Lyon and Watson (if he's fit !) wherever possible. Siddle is a shoe-in and the others will fight it out for the two remaining spots. Cummins won't be there and neither will Pattinson in my opinion as both have injuries that only time can properly heal. They will play a left armer so either Starc or Johnson will play for sure. That leaves one spot and I reckon they should play either Bird or Harris for the sake of variety. .. I don't think we are quite strong enough to roll England yet due to our lack of batting consistency and Clarkes' stellar year is unlikely to be repeated. .. don't worry though mate, we're working on it and hopefully your blokes will have to work extremely hard to get the result you expect.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 27, 2012, 22:40 GMT)

@dunger.bob, I could never imagine how anyone could actually watch cricket when I was a lad, of course the more I understood the subtleties the more cricket opened itself up to its seemingly infinite delights (not unlike the fairer gender, but I digress). One of which as you rightly say, and which is opaque to the jingoistic motormouths, is the immense pleasure afforded watching the acorns dropped (the talented youngsters) from the mighty oak, (Warney, Punter, Hado, Gilly, Mcgrath et al) wobble around testing their fragile legs (sorry about the mixed metaphors) as these self same legs take root and begin the mesmerising journey into full oak tree hood ness.

Posted by samincolumbia on (December 27, 2012, 22:23 GMT)

@rickvoncantebury - Are you referring to the Big Bash when you talk about aussie bowlers 'achivements'? Your ageing, fragile, pop gun bowling attack cannot even last more than two tests in a row without hobbling or falling flat on the face!!

Posted by samincolumbia on (December 27, 2012, 22:16 GMT)

@RandyOz - The aussies are only 'starting' their 3 decades of dominance now...I remember reading this joke when England arrived on australian shores. After the aussies were humiliated, the same joke was repeated when SA landed. Now you parrot the same line after beating the mighty Sri Lankans who are the worst travelers. Clarke is just a home-flat-track bully piling on the runs. Check his batting average when he played outside Australia this year.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 27, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27 2012, 21:04 PM GMT), A cliché I loathe is LOL, however there is genuine cause for it after reading your risible yet slightly sad attempt at trolling. To answer your question though, neither I, nor I am certain any Australians find it 'hard' to contemplate the ignominies to which you allude for the simple fact that the fanciful scenarios you propose are merely figments of your Walter Mitty like fantasies.

Not long now and our mighty and valiant Clarke, (he who bats in a cap with the scent of lavender) will put your pretty boy Cook, The Pretender, in his own pot to stew but not before tenderising him with a solid thrashing at home first.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 27, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

@ Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27 2012, 21:04 PM GMT) : 8th place Lunger!! Where did you get that from? England occupied that slot for a while but Aus. has never slipped that far down the greasy pole, even at our lowest ebb. .... I can't speak for anyone else, but I can tell you that it doesn't worry me in the least that England have the edge on us for the moment and I spend absolutely no time worrying about what England are doing. It's a very exciting time for Aussie cricket, we are rebuilding and starting to head in the right direction which is interesting and fascinating to watch unfold. ... our next task is a tour of India. I suggest you keep an eye on that (as if you wouldn't) because it will put Englands recent success into perspective. There is a possibility that Oz could win in India as well, given that India is currently so very, very poor ..

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

Just to clarify...Part three is bowler's name, then total wickets taken followed by the bowler's average. The final two figures are total number of wickets taken for all five the bowlers followed by their combined average.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 27, 2012, 21:58 GMT)

@valleypf. Of course you can talk MJ up all you want. He had a great game against the Poms in Perth & in SA, but what else? I have seen both (albeit Thommo in my teens), Thommo pre-injury was another level, he dominated the champion Windies side. Without that shoulder injury he would have reached 200 in far fewer games than he did when he wasn't anywhere near the bowler he was. Johnson a legend? Not in my books at least. At 31 years of age, MJ doesn't represent the future of Australian cricket, Starc, Cummins, Pattinson, Bird, Hazelwood, Cutting & Copeland do & that is where we should be going. MJ, Harris (who I really rate) only as fill ins when other options are out.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 21:56 GMT)

Part 3: South Africa Wickets Average D. Steyn 299 23.79 V. Philander 67 17.98 M. Morkel 164 30.2 J. Kallis 282 32.57 R. Peterson 20 33.4 Total 832 27.588

Australia Wickets Average P. Siddle 137 28.47 B. Hilfenhaus 99 28.5 Pattinson 31 22.09 Starc 24 29.2 Watson 62 30.06 Total 353 27.664

United Nations (aka England) Wickets Average Anderson 288 30.39 Broad 172 31.93 Bresnan 57 32.54 Panesar 159 32.64 Swann 212 29.13 Total 888 31.326

Although England have more wickets, South Africa currently have the best average per wicket. AUS's average is very close but considering SA have that average over so many more tests it would rank considerably better than AUS at this stage. Does this answer the debate? South Africa has the best bowling attack in the world?

Posted by Cricket-tragic-AU on (December 27, 2012, 21:50 GMT)

Sadly @Front-Foot-Lunge the only thing you're good at is Trolling. Aus is 3rd in the ICC rankings, behind England by 4 points. Also - to highlight your 'superiority' you lost (this year) to Pakistan (3-0) and South Africa (2-0) - you must be SO proud if those performances. Troll as much as you like - I think we prefer to judge our side by performances, not ill formed simpletons ;-)

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 21:48 GMT)

Part 2: The best five bowling averages of each team from the conclusion of the teams last test series. I have included the number of wickets taken but I think that most will agree that it is the average per wicket is more important. Some people may question why I left out Mitchell Johnson (AUS) for example. Well, even though he has taken 200 test wickets, his average does not rank in the top five for AUS. Johnson would certainly boost Australia total wicket haul but he would also increase their overall bowling average. These figures are for test matches only. ODI's and T20's could well show different results but most seem to think that test cricket is the true benchmark so I left it at that. Anyway, that's the way I did it. Feel free to use different criteria if you wish.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 21:44 GMT)

Part 1: OK, so there's been much banter about who has the best bowling attack in the world at present. The current discussion centres on South Africa, Australia and The United Nations (aka England). So I have compared these three teams only. To be honest there could be another bowling attack that completely blows this observation out of the water but I am NOT going to spend ages researching EVERY bowling attack from every nation when most people seem to think it's one of the big three mentioned above. If you want to do so then be my guest but please be assured I have not tried to mislead anyone in this regard. The only objective way is remove the emotion and patriotism and look at the figures. There are many things which make a good bowler but at the end of the day we have statistics for this very reason - they have no emotional input and are objective.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 27, 2012, 21:37 GMT)

@jb633. I know the Ashes is around the corner & am still trying to focus on current series, but the Ashes is still an eagerly anticipated contest. We still have plenty of question marks in our batting lineup, still a long way short of being a complete team. The bowling looks secure (injuries aside). In Pattinson, Cummins, Starc, Siddle, Bird (even Copeland & Cutting) we have enough talented young bowlers to cover our attack. Starc's season in Yorkshire has been of great benefit, Hughes & Khawaja returned from their county stints much more confidence. We still got a tough series to go against India, who should be more prepared & show some more respect than they showed your guys. Should is the operative word, but let's see.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (December 27, 2012, 21:34 GMT)

@ Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27 2012, 21:04 PM GMT) geeze how do India feel now, after the best bowling attack in the world sent them into retirement only 12 months ago, now they suffer the embarresment of being beaten by a team that were smahed by the Saffers and Pakistan had a LUCKY draw with Sri Lanka, they must be the only team performing as mediocre as England

Posted by Chris_P on (December 27, 2012, 21:20 GMT)

@Shaggy076, No doubt he MJ had an a great series against the Boks, a great Perth game against the Poms, but he has leaked so many runs costing us a lot of runs quickly in so many other games is what lets him down. The pitches were quick back then, but Thommo took on the might of Windies cricket (Lloyd, Greenidge, Richards, Fredericks, Kallicharan etc) & basically owned them in that series & the series before against the Poms. His shoulder injury took him down to a level even below Johnson (IMHO). The Thomson pre-shoulder injury was simply awesome. In today's time, I still rate him behind Pattinson, Siddle, Starc, Cummins & Bird. His future is limited, the others are not. Just my take.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27, 2012, 21:04 GMT)

These Aussie comments are ever so funny as on the back of winning the fight for 8th place in the world they claim to be the best in the world. So far off the mark, so far the slide has been and continues so. What a pity for Australian fans having to wake up every morning knowing that England are better than them, light years ahead of them. How hard it must be every time you think about cricket being conscious of the fact that England are better than Australia. How difficult it must be when you compare your own batters and bowlers and keeper and realize what a void lies between the two teams. And what a hangover must await when the realization kicks in that you spent so much time cheering over the Christmas Minnow Big Bash. What a pity.

Posted by OzWally on (December 27, 2012, 20:30 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy - instead of worrying where Clarke should bat, you need to trolling the SA domestic scene for replacements. Who for? Bell (he's done), Broad (you need an all-rounder that can at least bat and/or bowl) & Bresnan (I don't think they reconnected the correct arm after his surgery).

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (December 27, 2012, 20:09 GMT)

I think clarke should move down the order to 6 so he can be protected abit more from the new ball & also improve his chances of getting red ink for his average

Posted by OzWally on (December 27, 2012, 20:05 GMT)

@Ruban_Varathan - that is a good plan for SL success; but when, in the all-time history of SL test cricket away from home, have you ever seen them be able to do this? The answer is never. So why do you think it will happen in this match? Especially with only 10 batsmen.

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 27, 2012, 19:27 GMT)

Bad times for subcontinental times in Aus. First Pak got whitewashed 3-0, then Ind followed with 4-0, and barring any miracles, SL is on its way to 3-0 as well. What makes this particularly bad is the fact that Aus is nowhere near what it used to be a decade ago. To put things in perspective, other sides have actually played quite well in Aus of late. Eng and SA both won in Aus, even NZ managed to draw. The respective boards of the asian sides need to take a hard look at how they develop their domestic cricket if they are to sustain any further interest in tours down under.

Posted by IndiaRulesEverybody on (December 27, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

@RandyOz: Yes, I agree with you that three decades of dominance was started by loosing the home series to SA. Winning against SL sure inflates the ego, doesn't it 'maiite'.

Posted by Ruban_Varathan on (December 27, 2012, 19:12 GMT)

Srilanka have the chance to win this test even now but they need to put lot of effort on the field...Make AUS All Out with a lead under 300 runs...Then SL need to bat sensibly till 5th day morning or atleast to the end of 4th day...Give Aussies target of minimum 150 runs and then see the Aussies batting slideshow under pressure....Make aussies to bat under pressure then see the quality of aussies batting...If sl can do this.... they will surely draw the test atleast.....But if all these things happen then surely this Melbourne test will be recorded in history...

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27, 2012, 19:06 GMT)

@RandyOz, The Ultimate Battle of the Minnows AKA 'The Christmas Minnow Big Bash' is all you've got to cheer about. What a pity. :)

Posted by jb633 on (December 27, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

@Jono Makin- yeah he looked decent but I am sure the Aussie selectors will need to see more of him if he is going to figure in the Ashes series. @Jonesy2- should have known I know nothing about cricket. Granted Hilfy was decent in 09 but once you have been worked out as a bowler it is difficult to come back. I know he has made attempts to get the ball to swing later but still I don't think he should be near an Ashes squad. Johnson is a decent bowler but has too much mental scarring when it comes to playing against England. I would much rather see the young guns given a go than the tried and failed. And the top three does struggle against classy bowling. The main cries during the SA series was for the side to not be 40-3 at all times.

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 27, 2012, 18:45 GMT)

The bad thing for strong teams like Pak and SA, and weaker teams as well like india and the united XI, is that this Aussie side is only starting another 3 decades of dominance.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 27, 2012, 18:29 GMT)

@Mitch1066, Cook MAY be as good as Clarke but don't get ahead of yourself, we have not seen Cook's captaincy yet, bar one series, which may have been a whitewash if Panesar was playing in the first match.

Posted by landl47 on (December 27, 2012, 18:26 GMT)

No surprises today. Aus didn't look particularly dominant at any time but ground out a big lead. SL will be facing a deficit of around 300 and based on their performances so far in the series will do well to avoid an innings defeat. Tough luck on them losing Prasanna Jayawardene and Welegedara; they were already up against it, but to be reduced to 9 players facing 10.5 (assuming Watson can't bowl) makes it very difficult. Sides which are in trouble usually seem to havethe worst of the luck as well.

Posted by Htc-Android on (December 27, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

I hope Sri lanka bat through for atleast 200 overs to save this test match. Which is very difficult, but still they have to try it.

Posted by Htc-Android on (December 27, 2012, 17:41 GMT)

Our bowlers did a great job considering the fact that we were one bowler down and our fielders put down some of those chances. 440-8 is a good effort from our bowlers. But our batsman let us down. Even aussie batsmen were not trying to play hook/pull shot when our medium pacers delivered those bouncers. and our batsmen were trying to play every single short ball bowled by Aussie bowlers. That was really poor batting from our batsmen. If we lose 3-0 in this series, our batsmen are the main reason for that loss. Our bowlers did a decent job.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 17:37 GMT)

SL can get away by posting these dismal scores. Whereas anytime the Tigers or other minnows perform poolry, the call goes out to oust them from the premier level. What cricket needs is more teams at the elite level and teams like BD will do better with more game time with the big boys. As things stand, months go by before they get to play anyone and that tells on the team's lagging performance. There is much to be said of a team that won the ODI series against Chris Galyle's WI. The ICC has to step in and enforce something here to give lesser teams more playing time against quality opposition. BD can score more than 150 against anybody on a given day. If SL can get away with it, give us a chance too.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27, 2012, 17:26 GMT)

@RandyOz: Welcome back, we missed you for the last few months and last thousand Ashes. Do enlighten us - How's Australia's spin department going these days with the seamer Lyon? Enjoying the Christmas Minnow Big Bash?

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 17:23 GMT)

@jb633, I would expect Bird to figure in their somewhere along with the others you mention. He may even turn out over the next couple of years to be the most skilful bowler Australia has. His length and consistency will be spot on for English conditions.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 17:19 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge, remind us all again how great England were in their last series against Sri Lanka, would you?

Posted by dontlikecricket on (December 27, 2012, 17:10 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge: What happened to Cook when he played Amir and Asif under home conditions and played Ajmal, Reham and other part time spin bowler in UAE??? Cook is a very good player but Indian bowling attack was as brilliant as a Bangladesh attack. Just enjoy the Sri and Aus series for now.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

talking about Watson's conversion rate surely the fact hes an allrounder as opposed to a genuine batsman should count for him

Posted by hris on (December 27, 2012, 16:22 GMT)

@jb633 You say English batsmen love facing Hilfy. Thats seems a common fear among many people but its so ignorant. He struggled in the last Ashes series. So this whole notion is based on that one series. Go back to the 2009 ashes in England where the conditions suit him more and he was easily the best bowler from either side and was the leading wicket taker. Im not trying to say Hilf is a great bowler or anything. But please get your facts straight.

Would it be fair to blame cook everytime based on how he played against Amir and Asif. Or how Bell fared against Warne. OR the whole england team in 06 in oz? Just keep harping on one series. Dont get me started on how rubbish Anderson was only until the last couple of years.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 15:59 GMT)

Clarke sure has some huge boots to fill and his start is not that bad either scoring nearly 1600 runs through out the year. I hope he turns out into a commendable captain for the Kangaroos, whose game has slid from the best to decent and they dont fit in there. He has led as an example with his exceptional form and his consistency would help the whole pack, let alone Clarke himself with his captaincy

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 15:51 GMT)

@Posted by RandyOZ on (December 27 2012, 12:04 PM GMT) Captain Clarke is the best player in the world right now. He is also the best captain of the best team.

And, RandyOZ, you are the 'best (most ardent) fan of Australian cricket (to the extent of displaying abject contempt for all other teams)

Posted by brusselslion on (December 27, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

@jonesy2 on (December 27 2012, 14:01 PM GMT): 3 months ago, you were telling us that Hilf was in the world's top 5 bowlers. Now according to you, he doesn't even figure in Australia's top 5. Add in the world's best batsman, all rounder, opener and legend in the making (that's Hughes in case anyone's unsure) and this current Australian side must be the best of all-time... what's that? They just lost a Test series to SA. There must be some mistake? Check the record books again.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (December 27, 2012, 15:37 GMT)

Hey RandyOz - I seem to remember those 'best fans in the world' had left the MCG by lunchtime a couple of years back! Self righteous, delusional, back slapping nonsense as usual from cricket supporters living in the past. It is hard to believe that a team that has lost back to back Ashes, at home to the South Africans and drew at home to NZ still claim to be the world's best. Amusing at best and tragic at worst.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27, 2012, 15:16 GMT)

How long can Clarke continue to hide down the order like a scared schoolboy? Coming in with the ball 40 overs old is a different game to the one played by the world's best test opener Alistair Cook, who has to play the seaming and as we all saw in India the spinning ball from over 1. Any Aussies here fancy commenting on Mr 766? (Or why he's called it for starters...! )What a scared little rabbit Clarke is, the ultimate flat-track bully. So funny to see Ozzie fans getting excited about the Ultimate battle of the minnows, dubbed by many as the 'Christmas Minnow Big Bash'!, and what a bottom of the barrel this series is. How Australian cricketers must shudder over the memory of innings after innings defeat in their own back yard with Anderson shattering stumps time and again. What glorious times for English fans are these, watching a minnow Australia having to make do with 6th or 7th best in the world.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 14:58 GMT)

Clarke is on fire these days...! Easily the best batsman in the Aussie line up now.

Posted by mark2011 on (December 27, 2012, 14:25 GMT)

so within two days fate of SL is decided..another defeat if not by an inning would be better atleat for some consolation...SL problem in many test defeat were not only poor batting..poor fielding also..when they should lift things up, they put cathes down and let things bcom worst.. digging themselve in bigger hole...yesterday we dropd SW , MC.. and both put up 200 runs stand...when SL only score 156...how can u win a test match... SL team approach and mentalities are not suiting for playing test either in home or away.this shows consistantly SL team unable to deliver in big occasion when it demands.. althoug MJ keep talking about positives of defeat to take to next game, we havent seen such thing has actually paid of in the form of results.. most of the time falling behind doing same foolish mistakes again n again..I think SL has record in dropping catches in AUS, i remember once way back 1990s,Michael Slater scord 200+ runs, he was dropped 4 time and in the whole match 8-10 catches

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (December 27, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

There is so much to like about this series. I hope to see a Hobart-style counter attack from SL's classy batsmen on day 3 but it may not be easy if Mitch is on fire again. An excellent start in Tests for Big Bird. Opposition teams should be very afraid - Pigeon Mark II is on the way. @Essex_Man, the reason tests in England sell out so quickly is because the grounds there can only hold two men and a dog and the dog spot is reserved for one of the royal corgis.

Posted by samincolumbia on (December 27, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

The aussie batsmen gifted their wickets more out of boredom than anything special from the pop gun SL attack. This match will end on Day 3.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 27, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

the most staggering thing about michael is that nobody even comes close to him right now. he is in a league of his own i mean the next best performed batsmen are probably amla and chanderpaul and they have how many hundred less runs? incredible.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 27, 2012, 14:01 GMT)

jb633 -- you simply dont know what you are talking about. finn targeting the worlds greatest? never seen a funnier thing written. england like facing hilf? sarcasm? hilf isnt in australias best side but he walks into englands side as first seamer picked dont you remember when he annihilated england in 09? he will be horse for course and will rip through england at least once if picked.

Posted by Htc-Baseball on (December 27, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

@gnanzcupid: What are u talking about? When Dravid and Laxman can make comebacks against Warne and Mcgrath then surely our world class batsmen can make comebacks against bowlers like Bird, just wait and watch

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (December 27, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

LOL - Johnson outscores Warner and Hughes! Maybe Aus. will move him up to no. 3 now? Looks like Wade should stick to the bowling; he can't bat.

Posted by Herath-UK on (December 27, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

Have a feel for the SLC when their bowlers are not doing well and getting injured,Malinga producing another sterling performance for the Melbourne Stars. The result of this series could have been reversed had he played for the SL team. Ranil Herath - Kent

Posted by EverybodylovesSachin on (December 27, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

Another flat wicket, weak bowling hundred for Clarke in year 2012 except one scored in SA. He is having luck of his life right now.

Posted by Mitch1066 on (December 27, 2012, 13:32 GMT)

Randy oz Australia ain't best team in world only third! And cook is as good as Clarke and cook and Clarke two best players in world at moment. Nothing wrong with patriotism but Implying there. Best just incorrect

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 27, 2012, 13:16 GMT)

Watson is a very good player at his best, currently he is struggling for form and was great to see him work hard and get 80 in this test. He is a valuable part of the team and can see some touch coming back. His batting stats do look ordinary particularly over the last 2 years. However prior to that he had 3 years as an opening batsman averaging 50. I think opening is his best spot and he is not far off returning to form.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (December 27, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

clarke has played like bradman in tests this year . & kohli has played like bradman in odis .

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 27, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

Jb63 - My best three would probably be Siddle, Pattinson and Johnson. (Other potential players are Harris, Hilfenhaus, Starc, Cummins and Bird). Wouldnt right of hIlfy as when he was playing the English he was bowling poorly and has shown over the last year he is a much better bowler than that. At this stage I would have Johnson in front of Starc because he bowls a heavier ball and is more dangerous with an older ball.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 27, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

Chris_P - I might remind you of a certain tour of South Africa where Mitch Johnson almost single handedly took us to victory. The real Mitch went missing for a couple of years but looks like he is back with a much better batting temperament. Johnson/THomson stats are comparatible imagine if helmets werent introduced there would be a lot of batsman frightened of Johnson but your right you cant compare the both because Johnson although bowling records are similar cleans Thomson up with the bat. Why do we also continually here Sri Lanka arent playing well, South Africa arent at there best it seems to be every series the opposition havent been at there best maybe its time to give a little credit to the Australian side for there contribution in th opposition not being at there best.

Posted by Slysta on (December 27, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

@jb633 Featured Comment: Spot on re Aussie pecking order (in my view), although the rotation policy will hit Starc as hard as Pattinson. Agreed that Hilfenhaus and Johnson should be outside the top 4 (too big a gap between their best and worst), with Bird, although much will depend on how Harris fares on resumption. But Hilfenhaus is in bother: Bird did more in 15 overs on Boxing Day than Hilfy has done all season, and Bird has an extra half-yard of pace, too... Hilfy's summer has been very ordinary, and after such a terrific rehabilitation against India following his dreadful Ashes, it is awful to see him back at square one. I wonder if we will see some turning tracks in England, to exploit the likely superiority of the Swann-Panesar pairing over Lyon, given that Australia won't play two spinners in England no matter what the surfaces look like?

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 12:42 GMT)

Bring back Malinga! Even if he only bowls 10 overs a day, the likes of Dilshan, Herath and Angelo could make up the shortfall. They really need the impact. Jeevan Mendis may well be worth a run too, no better place to bowl leggies than in Australia. I wouldn't be too disheartened if I were Sri Lankan fan, they still have a few very talented players around that could develop into star players, they just need to find another seamer to pair up with Eranga. They really need to get back to playing more test cricket too.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

sl ,is deficient on seamers front and season campigners are not performing , this is badluck for sl and they are suffering a big way here , but on aus point of view clarke is at his best ,it is not easy to score 1500 hundred runs in one year, what a gem of player he is and also one impt. trait he is matchwinner along with some specisl players ,whichare limited in no. in whole ckt. World ,who got this match winning trait .

Posted by valleypf on (December 27, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

Chris_P You're right. Thomson didn't play against Sri Lanka and Johnson has. Other than that, all the same teams. Just shows how misleading nostalgia can be doesn't it?

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (December 27, 2012, 12:23 GMT)

@gazooligan I was referring to rickyvoncanteburys outrageous statement that the Oz attack is the best in the world. Many English and saffa fans would disagree.

@dazako You obviously didn't watch the first test if you think sa were saved by the rain..SA were in a very strong position before the rains came and also lost JP Duminy to injury. You mentioned pattisons injury but strangely didn't mention JP and Kallis who were lost during the tests.

Posted by samresh..msd on (December 27, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

clarke is in the form of his life... what an outstanding knock.........

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 27, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

Captain Clarke is the best player in the world right now. He is also the best captain of the best team.

Posted by Mitch1066 on (December 27, 2012, 12:00 GMT)

As just cricket fan it good to see Australia start put some performances in. I was shocked how South Africa seamed to suffer similar fate to England when took number one spot took eye off ball and were frankly outplayed in two out three tests. It seams Australia carrying on I hope England and Australia can both be at there best and we can have truly interesting ashes series with hopefully. England victory again . Johnson problem is consistency alone if he gets that he be counted one of best. Australia clearly are better then Shri Lanka who I'm not sure where they in ranking

Posted by jb633 on (December 27, 2012, 11:46 GMT)

I do feel sorry for Sri Lanka after losing their left arm seamer but Australia have had to deal with events of this nature all winter (their summer). Both Indian and Sri Lankan cricket really seems to be in freefall at present and they are no longer able to even compete against the top sides. Pakistan seem to be a very different animal as they actually focus around a bowling attack. I always feel a side is more dangerous if they have an attack that can run through your line up at any given time. With so much focus on T20 cricket both India and Sri Lanka seem to be neglecting the need for any real bowlers and they seem to be finding guys who only have the ability to contain. I think the cries from Indian fans that test cricket is boring is based on the fact that they are not producing wicket takers. Test cricket is all about watching a relentless bowling attack get to work. Cheap runs like those made in this test are what is destorying test cricket in countries like Sri Lanka and India.

Posted by tony122 on (December 27, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

@Chris_P and all you show how useless memories and nostalgia and a subjective lens are. Was the earlier era not known almost universally more pace friendly because of the surfaces? Were bowlers not allowed much more rest and breathing space than now? Is speed the only way to judge? Then can McGrath even qualify to be an average bowler? Are batsman not way better protected from short stuff?

Posted by tony122 on (December 27, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

@Trumpoz- Many bowlers have been clocked very very fast. Shoaib Akhtar was one. Hayward of SA and Mohammad Zahid of Pakistan was another. But still we call Wsim Akram. Younis, Mcgrath,Donald as greats not the earlier three. The question raised why Johnson is a decent bowler and Thommo was great with roughly same number of wickets in same number of matches is thought provoking and needs a clear thinking. Saying he was lethal is besides the point- if he was so lethal why the similar strike rate?

Posted by Moppa on (December 27, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

@PFEL makes a good point about the meaning of the word 'potential'. Watson is undeniably a frustrating player, but this is because he could be so much better. His *potential* as a top-order Test batsman is underlined by his ODI batting stats: 4500 runs with 6 centuries at an average of 41 and a strike rate of 88. I'm not sure why any fancy physiological shortcomings of his would apply in Test cricket but mysteriously vanish in ODIs. And so I must simply remain flumoxed as to why he can't translate his ODI form to Test cricket.

Posted by tony122 on (December 27, 2012, 11:13 GMT)

@valleypf- And do not forget the pitches in the good old days were supposed to be a lot more pace friendly! We need a more objective eye for sure!

Posted by Dazako on (December 27, 2012, 11:12 GMT)

@littletommytuckersaffa, Sri Lanka are playing this poorly for the same reason South Africa (world no 1 team) looked pretty average playing us. We had Watson out for the series Rain saved you in Brisbane, Patinson injured in Adelaide so 2 bowlers down and no Siddle in Perth. You take all these factors into account and it makes your 1-0 win in Australia look pretty scetchy

Posted by tony122 on (December 27, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

@Slysta- I agree. Watson is one of the most overrated cricketers in the world. And Hussey quite an underrated batsman by some distance. For example talking about Watson and Kallis(as I do here)in the same sentence must draw 10 times more cudgels from fans than it seems to be the case when one compares Kallis and Sobers. Watson should not bat higher than 6 or 7. Hussey should bat at 4 or 5. Maybe Clarke should bat at 4. Hussey might not have received as much acclaim because of his age as everyone seems to be waiting for him to retire, and let a youngster take over who can build a 'great' career and stats for himself.

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 27, 2012, 11:10 GMT)

mitchell johnson we look forward to you playing in the Ashes.Its always good to see a world class player.If you are lucky we will show you a couple

Posted by Gazooligan on (December 27, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

@TommytuckerSaffa - you are spot on, Australia took only 18 wickets in the Adelaide test,.. the exact same number as the South Africans. It's not hard to be selective about points of reference to prove a point, for instance I could add to that fact that the SA bowling attack that you imply is so superior were only able to take five wickets in two innings during the Brisbane test. So while its true Australia sits at number three in test rankings, a position which is appropriate for the time being, they are growing into something of a threat to numbers one and two which explains the biased comments from yourself and some vocal English supporters. My suggestion to you is to offer meaningful thoughts and/or analysis or stick to the biased drivel and enjoy that while you can. I find it hilarious that you parrot on about Australia as minnows when they are nipping at the heels of those above them, but it does suggest a lot about you and your insecurities.

Posted by Essex_Man on (December 27, 2012, 10:59 GMT)

RandyOz - There also remains enormous support for Test cricket in England, with most Tests being completely sold out. Next summer's Ashes series is very keenly anticipated over here and tickets have been selling like hot cakes; all 5 days at The Oval were sold out 10 months in advance of the game which is unprecedented!

Posted by Slysta on (December 27, 2012, 10:57 GMT)

LOL TommyTucker, why do you reckon Clarke "hides" at 5? Do you think it might be so he can average 180, at about a run a ball, against your "best bowling attack in the world"? This here is a real Test match between two real cricket teams. South Africa thinks Boxing Day is the time to play pointless T20Is, so why don't you go comment on those? Back to the real game, and Sri Lanka's undermanned attack has really stuck to its guns, but has been cruelled by the half-chances... you need to take 50% of those, and their fieldsmen just haven't done it. And good batting by the Australian lower order, Johnson and Siddle were sensible, did all the little things right, and shut the door on the Sri Lankans (who had given themselves a glimpse after getting Clarke, Watson and Wade quickly). Blokes like Cowan, Hughes and Watson could learn a lot about running between the wickets by watching our lower order.

Posted by gsingh7 on (December 27, 2012, 10:21 GMT)

sl have been exposed as world travelling team in tests , no wins in aus and india, waiting for another whitewash, hope lankan fans wud voice for changes in current team , icc should take test status away from sl as they are poor away from hope, even at home they were beaten by 1-4 by india

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (December 27, 2012, 10:01 GMT)

It's very obvious to me that Watson is not a no. 4 batsman. Normally your no. 4 is highly skilled at playing both pace and spin, plus the tendency to score centuries. When will Clarke stop hiding at 5 and bat at 4??? Surely the ball is older by then.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (December 27, 2012, 9:58 GMT)

@rickvoncantebury

Thanks for providing some comic relief on these forums, it's appreciated. The best bowling attack in the world, are you serious? Let me remind you of sa vs aus in adelaide, where Oz amazing attack couldn't bowl sa out in 2 days....lol. And let's not forget Perth when your best bowling attack got put to the sword by smith, amla and de villiers. That's why ur no. 3.

Posted by Beertjie on (December 27, 2012, 9:46 GMT)

Good balanced comments, @by Wozza-CY on (December 27 2012, 08:36 AM GMT), especially on MJ. He should go to India to see how he does there when he's picked. Others like Harris, Starc, Pattinson should be given preference, but he deserves more opportunities to see how he goes. Can he shake up the Indian batters there? If not, for my money Bird may be a better bet for the Ashes on the lower bouncing tracks.

Posted by PFEL on (December 27, 2012, 9:42 GMT)

hyclass, you need to look up the word "potential" in the dictionary, because from your arguments against it is apparent you have completely misunderstood it. I agree that watson is seriously lacking as a test batsman though

Posted by Chris_P on (December 27, 2012, 9:37 GMT)

@valleypf. Jeff Thomson won series for Australia, frightened the living daylights out of batsmen & bowled only against the top countries. Mitch is barely good enough to tie his laces. No comparison my friend, not even a little. All you showed is how useless stats are.

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 27, 2012, 9:32 GMT)

@Ramesh Gopal: I would rather suggest you to be bit polite to Sri Lankans.

Posted by trumpoz on (December 27, 2012, 9:30 GMT)

@valleypf - Jeff Thompson was clocked at 160+kph and formed a lethal partnership with Denis Lillee. Want to see Johnson be consistent then he can be seriously considered as a regular for the side.

Posted by senthil25 on (December 27, 2012, 9:15 GMT)

Sorry For Srilanka but its not end of the world.......you can come up strong in the future but one thing should done immediately, Drop all senior players give a change to all new young guns.....let them suffer & learn quickly to rebuild the team, its has not happen in Indian team, right now we started to replace few players, If its happen in these countries definitely in 2015 WC, From this two any one will win the World cup easily.

Posted by Sageleaf on (December 27, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

It's another loss for SL. I told this before they left to Australia. I think SL is not playing as a team. Also they totally struggle facing pace. All top players are failing miserably. But the beauty is they still continue to play. Sure Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan are great batsmen but now it is time to retire and give younger players the opportunity. Mathews is not a captain material. The way he gave his wicket was horrible as if he does not have patience. Mahela gets out cheaply. The Australians have done their home work as usual and know how to deal with SL. Mahela's field placing is very questionable. Aussies scored freely because there was plenty of singles on offer. SL is handing a victory to Australia on a silver platter. Sri Lankan fielding was very poor once again except for brilliant effort by Hearth and Mahela. I wonder why SL is not trying out young players. Bowlers are totally unfit and SL should change all the coaches except Ford and get some foreign coaches.

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 27, 2012, 9:07 GMT)

Australia once again pulling the biggest test cricket crowds in the world. Australia is virtually holding the entire world up when it comes to test cricket supporters, and i guess this is why we are the most successful test cricketing nation of all time.

Posted by Nightwing32 on (December 27, 2012, 9:02 GMT)

To be fair on Sri Lanka at least they haven't given up like India did in Australia. They are weaker than India but you always see some effort from their part. Anyway go Mitchy, bring that form to India and England. Hopefully Lyon and Bird can stick for a while helping Mitchy get that ton.

Posted by kothumalli11 on (December 27, 2012, 9:00 GMT)

It's fascinating to read some of the comments posted by fans thinking SL can win by having 2 or three big partnerships , dropping catches etc. One must see the facts despite having blind faith in their team, SL in this test series is a very very ordinary test team with (even senior) players do not know how to cope with good quality seam/swing bowling at genuine pace and posses bowlers with very poor control and pedestrian like attack that could not be suitable for even net practice. SL coach could find a good excuse this time to defend his team's loss by 3rd day ( a certain possibility) .

Posted by gnanzcupid on (December 27, 2012, 8:49 GMT)

@sinhaya do you still believe that your team will have any young talent(hypothetical)??? @colombo_sl was criticising about the injuries in aus team in the preview. What about lanka dear?

Posted by Wozza-CY on (December 27, 2012, 8:36 GMT)

Johnson is putting in a good performance in this game and we know he can be destructive when Oz are on top. What will convince me that he is someway to fulfilling his potential would be for him to come out in the first test match of a BIG series and stamp his authority on the opposition and the series. I know he hasn't had that opportunity here, but we have seen, with all due respect, the SL bowling isn't threatening & they are struggling with the bat. Watson looks like he is in pain all the time & it could never be said he is a 'fluent' mover. Still a lot to sort out for oz cricket right now but the positives are outweighing the negatives thankfully.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 8:24 GMT)

Lankan fans have no right to comment on Indian reports as their team is performing more miserably:)

Posted by satish619chandar on (December 27, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

@rickyvoncanterbury : It is not Australia that put Indian batsmen to retirement but the English bowlers. They created a perfect blueprint which was successfully employed by Australia to attain a massive result.

Posted by NoelD on (December 27, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

@RickyVonCanterbury, Who's fooling whom? The best bowling attack in the World? Methinks it is time you abandoned those rose-coloured glasses of yours; they are becoming permanently ingrained with dust!!! At present the Aus attack is ordinary at best, maybe marginally better. The true test of any teams bowling ability has always been whether they are able to take 20 wickets in a match! 'nuff said!

Posted by kc69 on (December 27, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

Whats more worrying for Sr Lankan fans is not the result of this series but the next generation cricketers(which except for Angelo Mathews there is none)who could carry on the legacy of Sri Lankan cricket.It will probably face worse fate than Indian cricket when the 3 big guns retire(Sanga,Jayawardene & Dilshan).

Posted by valleypf on (December 27, 2012, 7:51 GMT)

It's strange how we choose our legends in Australia. Johnson has already reached Jeff Thomson's career total of 200 wickets (in 3 Tests less) and yet one's a legend and the other's on permanent probation.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

now srilankans fans would understand they are no different from any Asian team in Australian pitches ...

Posted by Slysta on (December 27, 2012, 7:48 GMT)

Not sure Watson is a "No. 4 with considerable destructive potential". In a cushy match-situation, against a presentable but not genuinely threatening attack one bowler short, he still looked like a limited batsman who does not have the adaptability that Test cricket demands in far greater quantities than the shorter forms. For mine, it is time to go back to the where he began... he might look like a top-order player, but 2 centuries out of 21 voyages past 50 in 38 Tests is not acceptable for a player with such pretensions. He's a canny bowler, valuable in all conditions, who bats well sometimes, and Test cricket traditionally accommodates such players at 6 or 7. So let's do that. Hussey would be better suited at 4 anyway - I have no idea why we continue to force such a fine technician against pace bowling to bat 6. And Watson would then be much more free to shoulder the bowling loads Australia needs him to carry routinely.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (December 27, 2012, 7:33 GMT)

@ TommytuckerSaffa on (December 27 2012, 07:08 AM GMT) I can answer that for you Tommy, SL are looking ordinary because they are playing a team with the best bowling attack in the world, 12 months ago they put the all powerfull Indian batting machine into retirement, then a few months ago they dented the reputation of the worlds number 1 battng lineup, and now another batting lineup full of legends made to look ordinary, you must fall to sleep while watching cricket a lot.

Posted by Htc-Baseball on (December 27, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

I am more worried about our player's fitness, already welegedra is nursing injury, hope no one else gets injured, we need everyone fit for the t20 series, we need to start identifying our talents for the next t20 world cup in bangladesh

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 27, 2012, 7:18 GMT)

I would highly appreciate if Sri Lanka Cricket, and players consider the goal of being the best Test Team according to ICC ranking. It's equally important as winning the world cup.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 7:13 GMT)

Michael Clarke ! You beauty !!!

Posted by handyandy on (December 27, 2012, 7:11 GMT)

I hope this is what we will continue to see of Johnson in the second part of his career.

With a double header ashes series next year Johnson at the top of his game could be the difference between the two sides.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 27, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

@Kitschiguy on (December 27 2012, 06:04 AM GMT), well if he truly is 'outstanding' at making 50's, and they are big ones to boot, then I don't think any team in the world would not want a player like that. Therefore, what is your point?

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (December 27, 2012, 7:08 GMT)

@BhuJo

I feel your concerns too. SL is a much better team than this especially when you look at the batting lineup and averages. Oz is an average team at the moment. Why is SL playing so poorly??

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 27, 2012, 7:08 GMT)

We are back in the game. This is Test cricket. So, this score is not massive. We can win. Only thing we need, and the only thing we hardly will do is PARTNERSHIP. We need just TWO or THREE BIG PARTNERSHIPS. And we can win it.

Posted by yohandf1984 on (December 27, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

As a die hard Sri lankan cricket fan , i want them having an innings defeat within 3 rd day . this is ridiculous .our Batsmen didnot hv enough temperament as much as Johnson had .Please observe couple of games and drop these so called batsmen if they cant even get a fifty . we dropped catches like school team . Sanga kept wickets like he has never done before . Our bowling attack is inexperienced and how can they get any confidence when you drop catches . Donot blame bowlers . if we took our catches Australia would have been 150/5 . Now it doesnot matter though .

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 27, 2012, 6:45 GMT)

I'm delighted to see Mitchell Johnson return to his all-round self after a horror couple of years when he struggled to cope with deeply personal tabloid journalism.

140+K left-armer + a very classy lower-order batsman + a great outfielder.

He really should be one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Posted by analyseabhishek on (December 27, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

The Sri Lankan team is playing exactly the way the Indian team played in England and Australia last year- 1 honorable defeat followed by multiple dishonorable ones, including loose shots and lack of determination from batsmen and missed chances by fielders.

Posted by Edassery on (December 27, 2012, 6:35 GMT)

@Billy Parremore, India is in a similar league now...

Posted by Edassery on (December 27, 2012, 6:20 GMT)

"Hosts loosen grip on Test" - Wrong title! They are heading towards 300 runs lead on second day... At tea, they were already at 174 runs lead.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 27, 2012, 6:18 GMT)

It is not prudent to whinge about a pitch being a minefield when it clearly isn't and when a team adds to that preposterous allegations of ball tampering, the following match will clearly place them under more pressure to perform. And they duly, have not. Great to see MJ continuing from where he left off in Perth. Maybe the broken finger presages a return to his full potential. We shall see. If he gets a ton to go with the hairline fracture, then who knows we may yet seem him play a major role in the Ashes.

Posted by Marcio on (December 27, 2012, 6:16 GMT)

Well, SL have had a lot of bad luck, to top off the bad batting on day one. I said this after the SA series, where AUS had some really rotten luck in the second half of that series. It goes in cycles. Now it's AUS' turn for some good fortune. SL, with a bowler down in the 1st innings, are in an absolutely hopeless position. On the bright side, at least it won't cost them the game, series and #1 ranking.

Posted by Kitschiguy on (December 27, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

Watson is superb. Simply outstanding at making 50's.

Posted by Klgn on (December 27, 2012, 5:59 GMT)

Srilanka there for cricket or chill out vacation tour to Australia.

Posted by Klgn on (December 27, 2012, 5:46 GMT)

This whole series is going to be one sided for any strange reasons from Srilanka. Srilanka is not a bad side but the way they are playing...raising lot of questions to me!!! What is going wrong with them???? Why star players..dilshan, sangakara, mahela not playing well?? Why entire team is collapsing at one single time??? Is it really difficult to play in australia???

Posted by Biggus on (December 27, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

Top catch by Herath, at least the Lankans aren't giving up.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

Maybe Sri Lanka, Bangladesh & New Zealand should concentrate on shorter forms. This isn't working at all. For Test cricket to survive, we need only the competitive nations playing.

Posted by dan1231 on (December 27, 2012, 4:44 GMT)

COMON AUSTRALIA!!!! Johnson and Hussey are the key batsman!

Posted by dan1231 on (December 27, 2012, 4:42 GMT)

Australia need a lead of atleast 200 and put more pressure on Sri Lanka, Hussey to make a 50 plus and same with Johnson.

Posted by landl47 on (December 27, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

To suggest that Australia's grip has been loosened when they are 174 ahead with 4 wickets left is a masterpiece of comparative thinking. It's not as bad as it was. It's still very, very bad for Sri Lanka.

Posted by hyclass on (December 27, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

Watson has a Test S/R of barely above 50. His S/R in this game was far lower. The idea that he is a Test batsman of destructive potential is laughable. The numbers completely refute that assertion. He was also dropped in this innings at the usual juncture-in the last half hour of the previous session. Any good first slip knows to have their hands up and ready when a batsmen goes back to cut a spinner. The edges always fly and there is always a strong chance of it occurring.Mahela of all people would have known this. Watson suffers from fatigue. His innings patterns are as predictable as clockwork. In the last Test, he was dismissed in the last 20 minutes of the session.The term 'brain-fade' is apt and a physical, not mental condition.What is taking place is his muscle burning electrolytes faster than is usual with cricketers, but not for people with a muscular physique. It causes the synapse to misfire or be sporadic. This is the brain fade.Until the physio gets this, it wont be fixed.

Posted by MH19 on (December 27, 2012, 2:43 GMT)

Come on SL we need to loose with embaracement the way aussies have wounded us thanks to your batting debacle,grassing the catches and our Bowling especially the paceman it looked like under 11 cricket macth played back home.The word proffessional is a good word to be used for many SL Players who should be shown the door soon. Herath is a star though.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 2:34 GMT)

Except for a couple of players the Srilankans lack the skill or teperamant for Test cricket.They should abandon Test cricket and concentrate only on limited overs cricket.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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