Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney January 1, 2013

Australia shake off New Year's lethargy

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Ed Cowan confessed to a "pretty flat" net session as Australia trained ahead of the third Test in Sydney, and it was hard to escape a sense of New Year's lethargy around the SCG on the first morning of 2013. Given the injuries and poor results enveloping a bedraggled Sri Lanka, it may be attitude rather than opponent that provides the hosts' greatest barrier to completing a 3-0 series sweep.

As usual, Australia's search for an exemplar of preparation with purpose did not need to venture far past the captain Michael Clarke, who is no longer in much doubt to play. Fastidious as ever, he completed a fitness test in front of the team physio, Alex Kountouris, comfortably enough, and now appears highly likely to be ready in time to toss the coin on January 3.

Clarke and the rest have the motivation provided by Michael Hussey's final Test - as they did when succumbing to South Africa in Ricky Ponting's final match - while a schedule warped by the BBL also means this match will be the last chance for many members of the team to play in conditions that will give them some idea of the challenges presented by India in February. The SCG curator Tom Parker's pitch is well grassed but has time to dry, leaving both sides to consider twin spin.

"We have spoken at some length about our determination to make sure we win this series 3-0," Cowan said. "We experienced some disappointment earlier in the season, and this is us trying to vent that a little bit and we are pretty keen to see Mike off with flying colours.

"It's not like we're flying out [to India] tomorrow and are dumped in the middle of Hyderabad and told good luck. It's six weeks [away]. Some guys are going over earlier, there's going to be a huge amount of preparation time. I'm pretty keen to face spin [in the Sydney Test] if the wicket looks like that, because I don't think it's going to turn very much, so if Sri Lanka want to play two spinners that's probably to our favour."

Hussey's retirement, alongside Clarke's flirtation with hamstring trouble, has forced the rest of the team to at least think about walking taller. Such is the paucity of leadership and experience left now that Hussey and Ricky Ponting have both departed that Cowan has been seriously discussed as a potential captain, while even the uncomplicated fast man Peter Siddle fielded questions about his leadership capabilities.

"In the Australian cricket team it's important to have multiple leaders, and not just guys who are captaincy material," Cowan said. "We've seen people like Ponting and Hussey and those kinds of guys set standards around training, around how the team behaves on and off the field. For a strong group, which we aspire to be, you need to have a great captain, and we've got that. And you need some guys to step up and take over those responsibilities.

"It's nice to be mentioned, but I don't think that changes anything about how I try to contribute to the group. From the first day I've tried to be myself, and contribute and give to the team and make sure we're winning Test matches. If there's 10 or 11 other guys doing that, that's how culture is built. I believe pretty firmly in that."

Australia's culture did not look particularly strong on the 2012 ODI tour of England when the team was routed 4-0, when both Ponting (dropped) and Hussey (parental leave) were absent. Cowan acknowledged the hole they left, but argued that in Clarke the team had a captain worth following, and simply needed a new generation to step into the front rank.

"You can say what a hole it leaves; it's pretty obvious. He [Hussey] is a phenomenal player, he's still playing as well as he ever has, so sure it's going to leave a hole," Cowan said. "But the other side is it's an opportunity for this team to move forward how they want to, be shaped not by the past but have a real crack with a new group shaping a new Australian cricket team.

"That's exciting, and it has to be. If we don't think that's exciting then we've got an issue. I think we're inspired by the way the captain preforms. I think we're inspired by the way he goes about his business and gives of himself to the group, and so he's the guy who we'll continue to look to. And he's excited by it, so if he's excited I think you'll see a whole group of merry men following."

One area in which Cowan is seeking to improve in Sydney is to not allow himself to be distracted by a dismissal, as he admitted took place when Phillip Hughes was run out late on Boxing Day. There, Cowan lost focus, and nicked a skittish cut shot to slip to be out for 36 - the sort of middling score he needs to build on more often.

"On reflection, it probably did [affect me]. It shouldn't have, I was disappointed that it probably did," Cowan said. "It was one of those moments when you're travelling nicely in your own little bubble and controlling the game, and then when that bubble breaks momentarily it's hard to get back into it quickly when your emotions are flying around.

"In terms of learning, that's what I took out of the last innings, not letting little situations like that take their toll."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Batmanian on January 2, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    While I don't think there was much need for Maxwell (could mean a baptism of fire in India for him, though), I'm a bit surprised they didn't go with Khawaja. If they are serious about giving him another go, they need to start. There are very different conditions in India, England and the Australian return coming up, and he could easily lose confidence if India decides to play well, and it's back to the succession drawing board.

    Quite why we need four fast bowlers - even though that does include Johnson and Starc, who could easily both turn up as Mr Hyde - beats me. I guess there's no functional medium pacer among the batsmen (unless it's Hussey); plenty of part-time spin, though, which usually means something in Sydney.

  • Chris_P on January 1, 2013, 22:29 GMT

    @Jono Makim. Agree long term we have some outstanding guys coming through (saw Kurt Patteron's innings last year & he is special) but am really concerned about the current batsmen. Given the infrastructure we have in place, we will always be competitive, just presently, we are short of top line batsmen. Wade is definitely among the best batsman of the available keepers, probably close to being amongst our best 6 which is the real concern.

  • Edwards_Anderson on January 1, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    With Hussey's impending retirement it seems even more important that Khawaja plays in this match to get him right back in the mix before upcoming tours. I think Wade will do well but he is not a no. 6 at this stage of his career and that maxwell is a genuine all rounder looks pretty desperate on the part of the selectors. Sure, having a world class all rounder is great, but if there isn't one around then forcing the issue can only work against the team. And who will be rested in this test match. Siddle was rested from the 3rd test against South Africa - a decision that cost the series! I am assuming Bird will be rested but he doesn't deserve it but i would definitly play Starc so an interesting situation arises.

  • Marcio on January 1, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    Here's hoping the Lankans make a good showing, and I certainly wouldn't begrudge them an unexpected win, given the tough times they are going through. Maybe the next SL hero is just about to be discovered. Good on SL fans for being respectful, too. Given this will be my last post for at least six months (other things to prioritise) I think I should say that I'm quite optimistic about the future of the AUS team. Given the inexperience of the team, you have to think long-term, 2 yrs+, and if you do that it's going to be a good era for AUS cricket coming up. They may not win the Ashes in ENG in the short term, but I believe their culture of success will continue to build under Clarke for the next 4 yrs+. Cut them some slack while they get there. I think the admin will acknowledge the shortcomings of domestic scheduling, and selection issues. Well done to the boys for the past 2 yrs!

  • Shaggy076 on January 3, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    FFL - I might reming you in the Cape Town game last year Clarke scored 150, in that game SOuth Africa lost 9/47 and Australia were bowled out for 97 doesnt sound like a flat deck to me. Also minefields of India they are slow turning decks and India dont have a bowler around to make it a minefield. Clarke will be fine in England averaged 57 last time. JLW74 - Lyon has a better start to his career then most spinners around the world dont worry about him to much as for Holland we wont know for a while as he has recently had a shoulder reco.

  • Rowayton on January 3, 2013, 1:08 GMT

    Front foot lunge, just to remind you - in the 2009 series in England Clarke scored 448 runs at 57, Cook got 222 runs at 24. Which one was it you said couldn't bat in seaming conditions?

  • on January 2, 2013, 14:53 GMT

    Oh yeah ...... and who is Vice Captain?? Who will be in charge if Clarke's back plays up or his hammy gives way and he cannot field??? Looks like someone just likes being the ultimate boss!!!

  • on January 2, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge ..... for some reason the selectors have found or manufactured a reason to leave out Khawaja so that his first game back in Australian colours will be on the minefields that India calls cricket pitches. Clarke knows these pitches so very well ...... the last time he toured India (2010) he averaged 8.75!! The time before that (2008) he averaged 35.9 which was buffered by his only major score, 112 at Delhi, where he was dropped on 21, 90 & 94.

    Ps. Will India be preparing a pitch suitable for pacemen or spinners??? I think it will be the latter.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on January 2, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    @disco_bob, Playing on flat decks all year against weak or tired bowling doesn't say a lot when you're Michael Clarke, the guy who amateur skills needs no introduction when it comes to playing on seaming wickets in England. And I'd call trumpeting your keeper as a bowler (to mask the fact that the guy employed in your team as spinner can't turn the ball or genuinely get people out) as pretty hapless. Oh and hiding so far down the order you'll never face anything other than a tennis ball to hit stands him in quite a contrast to the world's best test opener Mr Cook, who needs no introduction himself after the 100's he scored on minefields in India recently amongst other exploits you may have read about in Australian newspapers.

  • jlw74 on January 2, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    I was firstly surprised with the selection of Maxwell and assumed because he was named he would play the fact he is not seems like a wasted selection to me. The no brainer in my opinion was to play Khawaja and bat him at 6 as he seems the logical at this stage replacement for Hussey. I also do not get our obsession with having a batting all rounder we have one he's just injury prone. Warner and Clarke can bowl more then useful spin but Lyon needs a bag to convince me he is the right man. HAS anybody seen much of Jon Holland for the Vics? there seem to be big wraps on him I am just wondering is he a prospect for any time soon as I have seen bugger all of him and was just curious. All in all I am excited about this year it really is going to be an exciting time for Australian cricket with 15 tests and it certainly is a fun time to be an aussie fan. We will have some good days we will have some bad days but the future is bright.

  • Batmanian on January 2, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    While I don't think there was much need for Maxwell (could mean a baptism of fire in India for him, though), I'm a bit surprised they didn't go with Khawaja. If they are serious about giving him another go, they need to start. There are very different conditions in India, England and the Australian return coming up, and he could easily lose confidence if India decides to play well, and it's back to the succession drawing board.

    Quite why we need four fast bowlers - even though that does include Johnson and Starc, who could easily both turn up as Mr Hyde - beats me. I guess there's no functional medium pacer among the batsmen (unless it's Hussey); plenty of part-time spin, though, which usually means something in Sydney.

  • Chris_P on January 1, 2013, 22:29 GMT

    @Jono Makim. Agree long term we have some outstanding guys coming through (saw Kurt Patteron's innings last year & he is special) but am really concerned about the current batsmen. Given the infrastructure we have in place, we will always be competitive, just presently, we are short of top line batsmen. Wade is definitely among the best batsman of the available keepers, probably close to being amongst our best 6 which is the real concern.

  • Edwards_Anderson on January 1, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    With Hussey's impending retirement it seems even more important that Khawaja plays in this match to get him right back in the mix before upcoming tours. I think Wade will do well but he is not a no. 6 at this stage of his career and that maxwell is a genuine all rounder looks pretty desperate on the part of the selectors. Sure, having a world class all rounder is great, but if there isn't one around then forcing the issue can only work against the team. And who will be rested in this test match. Siddle was rested from the 3rd test against South Africa - a decision that cost the series! I am assuming Bird will be rested but he doesn't deserve it but i would definitly play Starc so an interesting situation arises.

  • Marcio on January 1, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    Here's hoping the Lankans make a good showing, and I certainly wouldn't begrudge them an unexpected win, given the tough times they are going through. Maybe the next SL hero is just about to be discovered. Good on SL fans for being respectful, too. Given this will be my last post for at least six months (other things to prioritise) I think I should say that I'm quite optimistic about the future of the AUS team. Given the inexperience of the team, you have to think long-term, 2 yrs+, and if you do that it's going to be a good era for AUS cricket coming up. They may not win the Ashes in ENG in the short term, but I believe their culture of success will continue to build under Clarke for the next 4 yrs+. Cut them some slack while they get there. I think the admin will acknowledge the shortcomings of domestic scheduling, and selection issues. Well done to the boys for the past 2 yrs!

  • Shaggy076 on January 3, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    FFL - I might reming you in the Cape Town game last year Clarke scored 150, in that game SOuth Africa lost 9/47 and Australia were bowled out for 97 doesnt sound like a flat deck to me. Also minefields of India they are slow turning decks and India dont have a bowler around to make it a minefield. Clarke will be fine in England averaged 57 last time. JLW74 - Lyon has a better start to his career then most spinners around the world dont worry about him to much as for Holland we wont know for a while as he has recently had a shoulder reco.

  • Rowayton on January 3, 2013, 1:08 GMT

    Front foot lunge, just to remind you - in the 2009 series in England Clarke scored 448 runs at 57, Cook got 222 runs at 24. Which one was it you said couldn't bat in seaming conditions?

  • on January 2, 2013, 14:53 GMT

    Oh yeah ...... and who is Vice Captain?? Who will be in charge if Clarke's back plays up or his hammy gives way and he cannot field??? Looks like someone just likes being the ultimate boss!!!

  • on January 2, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge ..... for some reason the selectors have found or manufactured a reason to leave out Khawaja so that his first game back in Australian colours will be on the minefields that India calls cricket pitches. Clarke knows these pitches so very well ...... the last time he toured India (2010) he averaged 8.75!! The time before that (2008) he averaged 35.9 which was buffered by his only major score, 112 at Delhi, where he was dropped on 21, 90 & 94.

    Ps. Will India be preparing a pitch suitable for pacemen or spinners??? I think it will be the latter.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on January 2, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    @disco_bob, Playing on flat decks all year against weak or tired bowling doesn't say a lot when you're Michael Clarke, the guy who amateur skills needs no introduction when it comes to playing on seaming wickets in England. And I'd call trumpeting your keeper as a bowler (to mask the fact that the guy employed in your team as spinner can't turn the ball or genuinely get people out) as pretty hapless. Oh and hiding so far down the order you'll never face anything other than a tennis ball to hit stands him in quite a contrast to the world's best test opener Mr Cook, who needs no introduction himself after the 100's he scored on minefields in India recently amongst other exploits you may have read about in Australian newspapers.

  • jlw74 on January 2, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    I was firstly surprised with the selection of Maxwell and assumed because he was named he would play the fact he is not seems like a wasted selection to me. The no brainer in my opinion was to play Khawaja and bat him at 6 as he seems the logical at this stage replacement for Hussey. I also do not get our obsession with having a batting all rounder we have one he's just injury prone. Warner and Clarke can bowl more then useful spin but Lyon needs a bag to convince me he is the right man. HAS anybody seen much of Jon Holland for the Vics? there seem to be big wraps on him I am just wondering is he a prospect for any time soon as I have seen bugger all of him and was just curious. All in all I am excited about this year it really is going to be an exciting time for Australian cricket with 15 tests and it certainly is a fun time to be an aussie fan. We will have some good days we will have some bad days but the future is bright.

  • on January 2, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    @ Chris P

    2011 : We should have lost to SA 2 - 0 but escaped through lower order batting in the 2nd Test. 2011 : Drew against NZ 1-1 when Clarke was out-captained in the second test. Lucky in the first test when 139 of the 427 runs. When Clarke was on 4 the ball came off the splice of the bat and dropped short of gully, he was the bowled on a no ball when on 23, dropped on 85, dropped again on 105. In the same innings Ponting had near misses & while Starc was dropped on ZERO, then scored 32no. 2011-12 : India came and went 2012 : We beat West Indies in a struggle. 1st Test was a minor miracle winning by 3-wickets. In the 1st innings we were 7-250, 8-285 , 9-329, and declared at 9-406. In the 2nd Innings chasing 192, Cowan was dropped on 6 before making 34, while Watson was dropped on 4 before making 52. Could've been 3/36. 2012 : SA Clarke gave away the second test before losing the last 2012 : Not a convincing win against SL in Hobart before applying the blow torch in Sydney

    LUCKY

  • disco_bob on January 2, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge, why do you say that Michael Clarke is down on his luck, considering he's just lashed 4 double tons and broken the all time calendar year run record in Australia? Do you even bother to understand the meaning of the words you use?

  • zenboomerang on January 2, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    Oz are in a very good spot atm, with the youngest & least experienced team we will be massive underdogs in the next few Test series - reminds me of the 86/87 team going through transition, while the old man of the team AB (Border) being the same age as Clarke is now, having a young brigade of batters & bowlers... Lots to look forward to over the next few years & any win will be keenly applauded...

  • zenboomerang on January 2, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    @Jono Makim :- "Australia dominated for a long time without one (batting allrounder)"... Seems you have never followed cricket in Oz?...

    If anything the exact opposite - Oz has always had batsmen that could be handy bowlers... Never heard of Dougie Walters, Bob Simpson, Ian & Greg Chappell, Border to name a few?... Even Clarke is a handy bowler, just that his brittle back lets him down... Steve Waugh averaged 8.6 overs per innings (OPI) he bowled in - 150 innings with 7,805 balls bowled... Mark Waugh managed 128 innings bowled out of 128 matches played - 4853 balls bowled - 6.3 OPI... Andrew Symonds 41 innings bowling out of 26 matches - 8.5 OPI while Watto has managed 10.8 OPI & the same percentage of innings bowled... Thats one hell of a lot of overs that McGrath & Warne didn't have to bowl...

  • Chris_P on January 2, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge. Let me get this right. We lost one test last year and England lose 7 yet we are in shambles? Got it.. continue with your comic relief.

  • on January 2, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    Yep lets think about the worst batsman in the team becoming the captain rather than thinking about getting a better batsman to open. Is this where the Australian selectors are at? There are better batsman in Australia so why not play them there is a better spinner in Australia so why not play him? There are better more reliable pace bowlers in this country but we stick with players that go for almost 4 runs an over and then talk them up even though they only pick up the tail. The only bowler you have got right is Bird even though you have others like the son of a great doing great things for QLD our selectors still pick sides that aren't as good as they could be maybe if one certain bowler wasn't sleeping with Healy's daughter he wouldn't be playing when we have better out there to do our county proud

  • on January 2, 2013, 1:13 GMT

    It will be hard to tell how the Aussie side are travelling until India/England, but we look pretty good now. The bowling is good, although Lyon really needs to try and prise out wickets with flight and bounce rather than turn. Hopefully Sydney does turn, because no one wants to see Sri Lanka rolled on a greentop like India last year. It would be good practice for Lyon with India coming up too. Maxwell is a joke selection, he will become an excellent ODI player I think but there are much better candidates for test spots at the moment.

  • TheBigBoodha on January 2, 2013, 0:49 GMT

    Yes, you are right, @Jono Makim. Plenty of those old players came into the team with batting averages that were barely adequate: Mark Taylor and Gilchrist being just two that come to mind. I agree there's plenty of potential in those young guys. I don''t understand all the negativity when the team has been doing so well these past couple of years - much better than England, for example, whom we are supposed to have no chance against. Clarke is a very good leader, and gets the best out of the players. He won't take too long to shape this into a very good team - I'm estimating 1-2 years max. England and SA have both peaked, and their best players will be past their best in a few short seasons. SA's second-string bowlers, for example, look very ordinary indeed, and we saw that Philander is just too slow on hard wickets. They'll be praying someone better comes along than what we saw in the recent series.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on January 2, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    Australia remain a shambles. Hapless captain Clarke continues to hide down the order, away from the new ball, as the minnows swirm above him. What a mess.

  • MrKricket on January 1, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    Australia have a potential horror year ahead with a tough Indian tour - India will be desperate to recover following the loss to England - which may well deflate Australia before the Ashes tour. Many are already writing Australia off for the first Ashes and with another series close behind it back in Australia you could be forgiven for thinking this team may end the year with a record like 2-10-3. Hope some of these guys step up! This Test is the last chance to show some skills.

  • Mary_786 on January 1, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    @wellrounded87 and @rosshambling i am sure Khawaja will get a stint in India, he is our next best batsman. I wonder who we will take in the bowling department to India, watching Haurtiz and Beer and both have been bowling well in the domestic circuit and one of them could be backup to Lyon.

  • Moppa on January 1, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    @greatshinwari, that looks like a pretty good team - can you please call John Inverarity? @Well-rounded87, yes, his numbers are 90 runs @22.5, though he did make 91 v SL in the Chairman's XI. @Edwards_A, I agree, I don't think we need a 'genuine' all-rounder, just a batsman who can roll his arm over respectably. On the assumption that Watson will continue to drop in and out of the team, I'd be perfectly happy if Hughes or Khawaja, say, could bowl as well as, say, Rob Quiney. Given that this isn't the case, I still think you generally pick your best 6 batsmen and make do. The only exception might be in India - if you play 2 spinners, you probably need a batsman who can bowl seam up, whereas Warner and Clarke bowl spin. Reluctantly, I offer up Henriques as a possibility for this role. Emphasis on the word 'might' though - I'd still pick Khawaja (or alternatively D.Hussey) for Dehli. @Marcio, hope all is well and hope to read your comments again on this site sometime.

  • Deanwsmith on January 1, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    My long term Australian team

    Warner Cowan Hughes Khawaja Clarke Henriques Wade Pattinson Siddle Cummins Starc/Johnson

    Thoughts?

    I like the idea of Johnson still, provided he is firing, due to his handy ability with the bat. I think that with Test experience, Khawaja will grow into a world class player. Clarke only had a first class average of 41 when he entered the test arena, and he seems to be doing ok. Hughes, as unorthodox as he is, is an obvious talent. Cowan creates stability with Warner, and Warner I have no doubt is our long term opening option (I wasnt sold on him until recently).

    The only problem I see with this team is the lack of depth in leadership for Clarke. Maybe an opportunity to groom someone? Warner? Khawaja?

  • on January 1, 2013, 21:41 GMT

    @Chris_P, I wouldn't be too concerned about the young batsmen mate. Sure, guys like Hodge, Law, Love would all be getting chances to play test cricket right now, but did any of them have a better record at 24-25 years of age than the likes of Hughes or Khawaja? Not really i'd guess. We see Warner averaging 40+ since he came into the team and we've not seen many keepers better with the bat than Wade. The batting and in fact the whole outlook seems pretty positive to me. Give it two years and they are going to be very hard to beat.

  • Chris_P on January 1, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    @Landl47. If Clarke conjures up a win in England it will be an astronomical performance. I give us much more of a chance down here though given the extra experience. The batting outlook is, by far, the most depressing. The young players are not performing, no one (Khawaja aside) has put up their hand demanding selection al la run feats. Oh for the days of Hodge, Hussey (pre selection), Siddons, Cox, Law et al who would have walked into today's team but could hardly get a start or no start due to the strength of the top 6 + Gilly.

  • Chris_P on January 1, 2013, 20:41 GMT

    @Ross_Hambling Agreee with Khawaja, & with Henriques (best performing allrounder in FC to date), but Mitch Marsh? His fc figures are awful. No doubt about his potential but he has simply failed to get anywhere near them as far as fc matches are concerned. In the short form he goes well, but we really can't afford to play him in the current team given how shaky we are batting wise. I have seen Maxwell a few times, he is no frontline spinner & nowhere near the top 6 batsmen in Australia, so what gives there?

  • on January 1, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    @Landl47, I think it would be fair to say that Siddle is now experienced enough to be called a senior player. Hilfenhaus too, assuming he bounces back has got a bit of exp. under his belt. What you say of course is more than fair but I really feel the likes of Wade, Hughes, Warner, Lyon, Starc, Pattinson, Bird and Khawaja can grow as a team. Three years time they'll all still be under 30 with 30-40 tests behind them.

  • landl47 on January 1, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    The elephant in the room for the Australian side is that the people now being considered as test prospects wouldn't have been anywhere hear the side in, say, 2004 and that there are very few young batting propects. Arthur's comment that Hussey's retirement brings lots of guys under consideration shows that there aren't many real prospects around; a strong test side has players who are a level above ordinary. Once ordinary players are being considered, yes, there are lots of them, but they're unlikely to do well at the highest level

    Leadership is another issue. Clarke has done a truly amazing job, but now his senior players are Watson, forever breaking down and with 2 centuries in 38 tests, and Mitch Johnson, who admits that he plays best when he doesn't feel the burden of responsibility. Siddle is a good example to young players and Cowan is at least articulate, but Hussey's departure leaves a huge hole.

    If Clarke can conjure up an Ashes win, it will be a great achievement.

  • Test-is-the-best on January 1, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    Sri Lanka threw out a vital opportunity to draw the first test and failed to avoid an innings defeat in the Boxing Day test at MCG. The confidence has been fully deteriorated following the MCG test with a huge defeat and injuries of its key players.I would say the chances of winning or drawing New year test @ SCG has been totally diminished as Sri Lanka has got out of form top & upper middle order and inexperienced bowling attack. The Sri Lankan team is experiencing a poor start for some time and neither selection committee or coach could not make any remedial measures so far.

  • on January 1, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    @Edwards_A, I think the Aussies are quite right to continue searching for a quality batting allrounder. Australia dominated for a long time without one, but with no Warne and McGrath it is hard to maintain pressure with just four good bowlers unless you overbowl them. Kallis really rounds out the SA team perfectly and Watson has been fantastic with the ball on several occasions over the last couple of years. A quality fifth bowler also helps alleviate workload problems and injuries. A major bonus if you've got a good'un.

  • Paul_Rampley on January 1, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    Why do we seem compelled to want (need) a "genuine all rounder" when only a few are available?Why not just pick a specialist bat at 6 such as Khawaja? Watson, Mitch Marsh, Henriques and Faulkner are the decent all rounders around but you wouldn't bat them at 6 over a specialist batsman. All other top nations have 6 specialist batsman but we are intend on finding an allrounder for it. Khawaja has to be the man at 6 for the Indian series. For the bowling Ben Hilfenhaus' record would suggest he is a more consistent wicket taker than Johnson when you compare their bowling averages, and he keeps it tighter so when Hilfe is back from injury i would pick him over Johnson.

  • simonviller on January 1, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Why do so many think that Australia's batting is not great ! They are several game changers in the Ausie line-up and it only takes one at any time during an innings to take the game away . These batsmen score very quickly ,with consistency and it's a matter of the extra time the bowling attack would have to do in the opposition . In my honest opinion the Ausies have a very good team ,good enough to be a number one cotender very soon .

  • Sinhaya on January 1, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    As a big time Lankan fan, I better avoid disappointment by predicting a defeat for Sri Lanka by day 3. I hope Chandimal excels. I am not too inclined to even watch this game because MJ's recent negativeness as a skipper has been apalling. Good example on how he lacks the winning instincts was opting for a draw in the 3rd test against Pakistan 6 months ago. The biggest upset of the year 2013 will be if MJ gets to double figures in either of the innings in the Sydney test. The way Mahela got out in both innings at the MCG was due to his sheer rashness and not due to wicket taking deliveries. With morale being totally shattered, no way can Sri Lanka draw this test with weather looking fine during the course of the match. @hotcric01, I am better off lowering expectations to lower disappointment. Also a useless cricket body like SLC never deserves to see the SL team winning a test at the iconinc SCG.

  • hycIass on January 1, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    @wellrounded87 completely agree with you, there are so many better allrounders then Maxwell that we coudl have taken but we need a specialist batsman to replace Hussey as he was a specialist batsman. @greatshinwari i like your team and how you have put Khawaja in at 4 and Huss at 6. Speaking to a friend from England today and he said that wewill miss Hussey the most in terms of occupation of the crease. Yes he was busy and kept the scoring moving but he was so difficult to get out. He pointed out that most of our current batting line up now is very attacking in style; Warner, Watson and Hughes but we don't have the Steve Waugh, Hussey type players except for the exception of Khawaja who has got majority of his runs in shield when the going was tough. I completely agree wiht this and this is one further reason why we must have in the batting lineup, my fear is we won't realise this until the end of the ashes.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on January 1, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    A few Aussies on here have already surrendered the ashes before a ball has been bowled. Lack of confidence is clearly showing and not very Aussie like.

  • Sunil_Batra on January 1, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    The weakest Australian batting line-up for many a long year is in prospect for the Ashes. And that is one good reason for going with Khawaja He knows English conditions wellafter his time with Derbyshire. Khawaja lead Derbyshire to their first divsion title after 10 years and is a very good player in swing friendly conditions. The problem with Maxwell is that his bowling won't stand up at test level and he hasn't yet developed his batting in shield similar to how we introduced Steve Smith too early to test cricket. Smith has gone back to shield and is doing well now with the bat. Lets get Khawaja in.

  • lancia71 on January 1, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    Sl will be lucky to take the match beyond the 3rd day. Herat might take 4-5 wickets in Sidney and majority will come when aussies go after runs. Hogg was right; this is the worst bowling line up. Nuwan Pradeep with gun barrel straight little over 140 kph will not bother anyone in aussie line up.

  • on January 1, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    I hope Clarke plays a second spin bowler in India along with Nathan Lyon. And hopefully this bowler should either be O'Keefe or Beer. I would go with O'Keefe because he will score more runs than Beer. Something we can learn from the recent England-India series.

  • hotcric01 on January 1, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    @Sugath,wow!That is a nice dream.But it is still far from reality,but not impossible, but improbable.

  • Gayangana97 on January 1, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    Hey ,This is SrilLanka in Aussie soil.Everyone know that SL lions need just a few moment to change the whole proceeding.they can change the momentum of winning or losing from just 1 match.I m really sure that young SL team can do this in sydney

  • hotcric01 on January 1, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    I don't think Maxwell is too bad for no.07,even in a test batting line up.His batting is aggressive.If he can play a brisk 40-60 inning,that would be useful to the team.He played a fast 90+ inning against Sri Lanka in the warm up game.But his bowling is still below par to be categorized as an allrounder.As far as hussey is concerned,I think Shaun marsh,George baily would be better options to replace him.

  • Sugath on January 1, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    Aussies you better take heed. Sydney will se a repetition like in South Africa. Lanka lost the first by huge margin, and then in came Dinesh and what a difference he made and Lanka won the test. I can guarantee it will get repeated in 2013 3rd to 7th January in Sydney and the series will 2-1 in favor of Aussies. But history will show that Clarke was the first Aussie captain to lose a test in Australia to Sri Lanka

  • 158notout on January 1, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    @Marcio - I agree entirely, this is what I expect to happen. I cannot see Australia winning the Ashes in England, and probably not winning the series in India but the experience will be invaluable. The challenge Australia faces is that it has been their bowling that has let them down more often prior to this resurgence but unfortunately now that they have a pretty decent attack (with a bit of improvement from Lyon it would be 3rd best in the world for sure) the batting order is in a state of flux. As an England fan I am pretty worried about the next Ashes down under as after a couple of testing tours this Australia side could be hitting it's straps.

  • wellrounded87 on January 1, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    @D-train Maxwell hasn't done much in sheild this year. There's plenty of batsmen who are doing much better. Haddin, Khawaja, Doolan, Burns, D Hussey, Callum Ferguson to name a few... hell even Ben Cutting is doing better with the willow and he's 5th in wicket taking as well

  • greatshinwari on January 1, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    i think real replacement for hussy will be a player among those 3 players including usman khwaja,david hussey or george baily,,,,, george baily has shown some good performances in ODI's so he willl be a good option to replace the great hussey....

  • greatshinwari on January 1, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    my team for sydney test...warner,cowan,hughes,khawaja,clarke,hussy,wade,johnson,starc,bird and lyon...siddle should be rested ahead of big tour of india

  • greatshinwari on January 1, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    dont wat rubbish is there wid the selectors of thinking abt maxwell...its well known that he is best player in shorter formats but not for test levels....i think ben cutting is the real replacement for watto...he can bat and bowl equally well as compared to maxwellll....selectors think well b4 the match start...

  • D-Train on January 1, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Because maxwell is one of the best performing batsmen in domestic cricket. That's why he should be playing.

  • on January 1, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    If they pitched isnt turning, why play Maxwell?

  • Mary_786 on January 1, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    Its great to see our captain pull through, just hope Khawaja gets his chance in the test match to replace Watson though i know from what i have heard that won't be happening, real shame, 2 matches in a row as standby and still can't get in when your number 4 is injured.

  • KhanMitch on January 1, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    And i am assuming that means Khawaja misses our as usual, can't understand why is he was backup batsman for Clarke that he has been overlooked for Maxwell who is not an allrounder. If it was Henriques or Mitch Marsh i could understand but not Maxwell.

  • KhanMitch on January 1, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    And i am assuming that means Khawaja misses our as usual, can't understand why is he was backup batsman for Clarke that he has been overlooked for Maxwell who is not an allrounder. If it was Henriques or Mitch Marsh i could understand but not Maxwell.

  • Mary_786 on January 1, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    Its great to see our captain pull through, just hope Khawaja gets his chance in the test match to replace Watson though i know from what i have heard that won't be happening, real shame, 2 matches in a row as standby and still can't get in when your number 4 is injured.

  • on January 1, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    If they pitched isnt turning, why play Maxwell?

  • D-Train on January 1, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Because maxwell is one of the best performing batsmen in domestic cricket. That's why he should be playing.

  • greatshinwari on January 1, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    dont wat rubbish is there wid the selectors of thinking abt maxwell...its well known that he is best player in shorter formats but not for test levels....i think ben cutting is the real replacement for watto...he can bat and bowl equally well as compared to maxwellll....selectors think well b4 the match start...

  • greatshinwari on January 1, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    my team for sydney test...warner,cowan,hughes,khawaja,clarke,hussy,wade,johnson,starc,bird and lyon...siddle should be rested ahead of big tour of india

  • greatshinwari on January 1, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    i think real replacement for hussy will be a player among those 3 players including usman khwaja,david hussey or george baily,,,,, george baily has shown some good performances in ODI's so he willl be a good option to replace the great hussey....

  • wellrounded87 on January 1, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    @D-train Maxwell hasn't done much in sheild this year. There's plenty of batsmen who are doing much better. Haddin, Khawaja, Doolan, Burns, D Hussey, Callum Ferguson to name a few... hell even Ben Cutting is doing better with the willow and he's 5th in wicket taking as well

  • 158notout on January 1, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    @Marcio - I agree entirely, this is what I expect to happen. I cannot see Australia winning the Ashes in England, and probably not winning the series in India but the experience will be invaluable. The challenge Australia faces is that it has been their bowling that has let them down more often prior to this resurgence but unfortunately now that they have a pretty decent attack (with a bit of improvement from Lyon it would be 3rd best in the world for sure) the batting order is in a state of flux. As an England fan I am pretty worried about the next Ashes down under as after a couple of testing tours this Australia side could be hitting it's straps.

  • Sugath on January 1, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    Aussies you better take heed. Sydney will se a repetition like in South Africa. Lanka lost the first by huge margin, and then in came Dinesh and what a difference he made and Lanka won the test. I can guarantee it will get repeated in 2013 3rd to 7th January in Sydney and the series will 2-1 in favor of Aussies. But history will show that Clarke was the first Aussie captain to lose a test in Australia to Sri Lanka