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December 29, 2012
Graham Ford was coach of South Africa when his team subjected Sri Lanka to their worst Test defeat ever, in Cape Town, vanquishing the visitors by an innings and 229 runs. He now finds himself with the team he helped demolish at Newlands on the other end of a one-sided result. The disappointment feels worse than any game he has ever been involved in, he said.
Sri Lanka avoided beating their own worst loss at the MCG, but did not manage much better in their biggest Test of the year, losing inside eight sessions, by an innings and 201 runs. It was a loss characterised by their lack of resolve, particularly with the bat, as they fell for 156 in the first innings, before losing three for three, then 13 for four in the second innings, as they attempted to save the Test, having conceded a 304-run first innings deficit.
There were few redeeming aspects of Sri Lanka's performance, save a silken 58 from Kumar Sangakkara in the first innings which took him over the 10,000 run threshold in the same number of innings in which Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar also achieved the milestone. Sangakkara will take no part in the remainder of Sri Lanka's tour in Australia however, having fractured his hand when he was hit by a Mitchell Johnson bouncer in the second innings.
"It's not a good feeling at the moment," Ford, the Sri Lanka coach, said after the match. "Right now it feels like it's the worst Test match I've been involved in. I don't think I've been involved in a defeat inside of three days. It's been quite difficult to find that many positives out of this one apart from Kumar's wonderful milestone.
"I was surprised at the lack of fight. I have often spoken about the fight that Sri Lankan cricketers have. What I've become accustomed to is a lot of fight. Admittedly a lot of that fight has been more in the one-day format than in the Test match format, but we have shown some good fight in Tests. Australia got some really good momentum going and we didn't get the start that we wanted."
Sri Lanka's bowlers also performed creditably in patches, creating an avenue back into the match when they removed the Australia openers and Phillip Hughes in quick succession on the first evening, but poor catching thwarted their efforts. Shane Watson and Michael Clarke's 194-run partnership put Australia in command of the match, and set up their mammoth first-innings lead.
"Maybe if we held those catches - I know they were spoken about a lot on that first afternoon - that might have halted some of their momentum. But they got to the point where the momentum just became too much for us. Unfortunately with a few things going against us with injuries, we weren't up to it."
The injury to Sangakkara means reserve batsman Dinesh Chandimal is almost certain to play in the third Test in Sydney. Chandimal may also take the gloves at the SCG, with Prasanna Jayawardene also under an injury cloud, having sustained a fractured thumb as a result of another Johnson bouncer. Either fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep or offspinner Suraj Randiv is also likely to start, with Nuwan Kulasekara's cracked rib likely to rule him out of contention. Chanaka Welegedara has also been ruled out for the Test, after tearing his hamstring on day two in Melbourne.
"Chandimal is very, very keen to get on to the Test match stage. He's worked extremely hard throughout the tour. So for him if he does get on and play, it will be a great opportunity for him.
"The injuries are a challenge. At the moment, we are still discussing and assessing the damage. That's something we're going to have to talk about. We have got back-up in the squad and I know that the back-up has been working extremely hard. And sometimes out of injury, careers are made. People get opportunities and they can grab them. One of our young guys will get to play in a New Year's Test in Sydney and if they can play well, they can establish themselves as Test players and gain great confidence from it."
Ford also said he would like to have the services of Lasith Malinga for the final Test, but believed it to be impossible for the fast bowler to make a Test comeback in time for Sydney. Malinga is in Australia playing in the Big Bash League at present.
"We certainly need him, but that's a contractual issue that I'm not involved in at the moment. He's contracted to the Big Bash at the moment, and not available to us."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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