Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney

Five bowlers chase farewell win for Hussey

Daniel Brettig in Sydney

January 2, 2013

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Johnson was the most successful of the Australia bowlers, with four wickets, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 1st day, December 26, 2012
Mitchell Johnson will be part of a four-pronged pace attack in Sydney © Getty Images
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As they seek one more chance for Michael Hussey to roar the team victory song, Australia will field four fast bowlers in a Sydney Test match for the first time in 58 years. They were moved to lengthen their bowling attack by Mitchell Johnson's superlative form, a tinge of green on the SCG surface, and Melbourne's firm evidence of Sri Lankan batting weakness against pace and bounce.

Having made an unbeaten 92 at the MCG, Johnson will now find himself batting as high as No. 7, also meaning notable promotions for Matthew Wade to No. 6 and the captain Michael Clarke to No. 4. The composition of the XI appears to have been governed as much by Sri Lankan weakness as the strength of Australia's bowling options, while Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja will have to wait until India for a chance to audition in the respective roles of spin-bowling allrounder and middle-order batsman.

Johnson's retention alongside the recalled Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird and Peter Siddle provides Australia with their deepest pace bowling attack for a Sydney Test since Ron Archer, Ray Lindwall, Bill Johnston and Alan Davidson competed for the ball against England in December 1954. Nathan Lyon's spin may again be reduced to a minor role should Sri Lanka again show the sort of hesitance against pace that defined the Boxing Day match. Aware of the hysteria that often accompanies such a selection, Clarke took care to stress that he wanted his fast men to bowl well rather than merely bowling short.

"You can expect some good fast bowling but it doesn't necessarily need to be short. It's about execution," Clarke said. "We have plans for each individual player. Some of those plans involve short-pitched bowling but not necessarily for every player. I don't think you will see anything ridiculous. It's about us bowling well to our plans, catching well, and having some more success."

While Johnson has appeared to revel in the freedom of being an experienced bowler without the burden of responsibility he has felt in the past, he will now have a role commensurate with the ability he demonstrated at the MCG. He batted notably higher on the list of batsmen in Australia's match-eve net session, and has the chance to prove himself a less streaky player by performing with bat and ball in Sydney.

"He's as hungry as he's ever been," Clarke said. "He feels like he's back bowling and batting very well. I think he knows in this group now he's a senior player and has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He needs to perform like a senior player, like he has since coming back into the team. I think Mitch is probably enjoying a leadership role around the group.

"He's back in good form but if ask Mitch I'm sure he'd say he can get better. With the right attitude you go a long way to playing your best cricket and trying to improve. His experience around the ground is crucial and his attitude is fantastic. We left him out in Hobart and he had the right attitude. He made it clear he wanted to be back full time playing for Australia in all forms of the game.

"If that means he has to miss a game every now and then to get himself selected more regularly then he's happy to fight for that position."

Hussey's decision to retire while still performing at a level to rival the best in the world was initially a shock to Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur, but Australia's captain denied the team would be adversely affected by it. He also reckoned that other players like Siddle, David Warner and Ed Cowan were ready to take up a greater sense of leadership within the team, shorn as it has been of more than 200 Test matches with the exits of Hussey and Ricky Ponting.

"I think over the next 12 months you'll see more of the leaders in our group stand up," Clarke said. "I think there's been a lot of responsibility put on a lot of players in the change room since I've taken over the captaincy, I've asked the players to work on their leadership, to feel like they are captain or vice-captain of the team. I've said my whole career that you don't need a C or a VC beside your name to lead. It's just because of the age more than anything and being around for such a long time that Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting have been put on that pedestal as leaders.

"They've played a big role there, but they're also leaving the game at a time when they've come forward, not only as individual players but as leaders in the group. I think over the next 12 months you'll see these young players stand up because they're ready for it. A lot of guys will be emotional that Mr Cricket's finishing up in Test match cricket after this game. He'll definitely be missed.

"But our goal is the same as it was for Punter, we want to make sure we send them out on a high, hopefully the result's a little bit different to what it was in Perth, but we'd love to see Michael Hussey go out with a win, and hopefully another Test match hundred for him."

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

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Posted by   on (January 5, 2013, 8:49 GMT)

its a big loss for entire cricket world......we surely miss him so much.wish you a very happy life

Posted by jonosing on (January 3, 2013, 4:18 GMT)

Aus needs to play 5 bowlers, cos only 4 are going to make it to end of the match...

Posted by Mary_786 on (January 3, 2013, 1:52 GMT)

@land47 and WhereisEmire you are right khawaja should be the best option for Hussey's spot in India and shame he didn't get a go in this test. The other question mark hangs over Johnson's capacity to take on the extra responsibility of batting at 7 (or higher), and whether or not that affects his role as attack spearhead. I don't think for the ashes you can have Johnson at 7, he is a 8 and Wade a 7 and we need Khawaja at 6.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (January 3, 2013, 1:49 GMT)

@MickyPanda watching the first session it looks like a good batting pitch which again makes me think that the decision to go with 5 bowlers was to avoid any controversy on the bowlers rotation, surely this was the best time with a dead rubber to get Khaawaja in and give him exposure before the Indian series.

Posted by da_man_ on (January 3, 2013, 1:42 GMT)

@onlyIndiathebest, by that reckoning India should get as many tests as Zimbabwe. Go find your IPL cricinfo pages to comment on, leave the real cricket to countries who care about it (and can actually play it) lol.

Posted by Hippiantor on (January 2, 2013, 22:24 GMT)

@handyandy 100% agree. I wonder if playing 5 bowlers might be a worthwhile option from time to time, especially when Watto is injured. I see Starc and Pattinson as being able to average 25+ with the bat and we know how dangerous Johnson is albeit inconsistent. Supposedly Cummins is not bad either and Harris is also more than handy. Our tail should be able to negate the loss of a batsman. Also having 5 bowlers will reduce the bowlers workload and potentially ( hopefully) reduce the rate of injuries to the fast bowlers.

Posted by onlyIndiathebest on (January 2, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

It was so unfair that Sri Lanka gets to play more tests in Australia than Bangladesh. They both have same levels of performance in Tests. Results of this series was a foregone conclusion the day is the series was announced. SL would be lucky to avoid an innings defeat on Sydney. At least more opportunity could have been given to Bangladesh to improve.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2013, 19:43 GMT)

I wonder if we are a little harsh on Sri Lanka, it's only one bad game, they have played well this year otherwise. Johnson at 7 is ridiculous, and I hope the plan backfires when the Aussies bat first and find nothing in the pitch later on and are stuck with all these fast bowlers when they needed another spinner. Mind you, the Lankan seamers won't be much good but if they bat first they can't win.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2013, 19:34 GMT)

@Brendan Carter--could you explain how much is 155 klicks and upwards..surely not kms ..surely

Posted by Charlie101 on (January 2, 2013, 16:54 GMT)

It would have been a good time to reintroduce Khwaja back into the team against a weakoned SL team without their top seamer . Instead he will play under pressure in India and then onto the Ashes - a tough ask for the guy !!!

Posted by StoneRose on (January 2, 2013, 15:37 GMT)

With their favourites Hughes and Johnson back in the side, Wade at 6, Johnson at 7, and Hussey and Ponting having retired, the England team must be salivating gratuitously.

Posted by gnanzcupid on (January 2, 2013, 15:20 GMT)

It is really painful for true cricket fans to digest the fact that the batting abilities of frontline batsmen of lanka are far inferior than the batting abilities of the australian bowlers. Where is srilanka cricket going towards.

Posted by gnanzcupid on (January 2, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

People like @sinhya must be taught to love cricket as a game. Must be he is humiliated by the recent run of the lankan team and also the fact that india had done well against them on a consistent basis in the recent past. Poor guy. He is exposed. But the lankan fans like him must be prepared as their worst decades of cricket is just ahead. It feels funny to see some lankan fans with english names like @lukecannon. Will see many lankan fans popping up with english names in the near future being unable to bear the repeated failures ahead.

Posted by gnanzcupid on (January 2, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

It would be interesting to make the current lankan side play the nz side which got bowled out for 45. That match will prove how worst the lankans' talent is. Going by their current form,they are expected to get white washed by the black caps. Remember that a full strength lankan team lost to kiwis at lankan recently. By full strength i mean sanga,mahela,may be herath and other 8 civilians from lanka

Posted by MrMojoRisin on (January 2, 2013, 12:57 GMT)

@sinhaya, looks like you hate India with a vengeance...LOL. We are experimenting with the team combinations, in preparation for India and England. As we have shown over the two tests, even our debutants and new-comers have made hay with the SL batting line-up. So no, ther is definitely no insecurity there. In fact we are challenging our fast bowlers to see how they fare on a wicket that helps spinners......

Posted by Rally_Windies on (January 2, 2013, 12:53 GMT)

Hussey's retirement .......

lets see ..... forces tried to keep Hussey out of the OZ team...(both of them) and Pointing was one of their greatest ally....

out with Pointing .... and that means an end to the careers of BOTH Husseys' ....

the OZ selection panel can take the brunt of the blame for Oz's fall from the top.. the OZ selection panel has exactly followed the WI model of how to destroy your winning team ....

to elaborate ... every time a GREAT player retires - you replace them with a "friend" or a "a player someone likes in return for a favor (like re-appointment to the selection panel)" - not the best player who deserves the spot... Politics - plays a more important role in team selection than cricket ..... the WI and OZ model to failure .. (notably also practiced by India, Pakistan and NOW NZ )

Posted by gnanzcupid on (January 2, 2013, 12:47 GMT)

@sinhya. Really having a laugh at your comment. You must following wrestling or boxing dear. Cricket is definitely not the game for you. Playing 5 bowlers does not mean we are afraid of your great batting line up. We wanted to test our bench strength. Had we played 7 batsmen you would have definitely told that we are afraid of your ferocious and wicket taking bowlers. Hahaha. Such a nice entertainment in reading your sheep like intelligent comments dear

Posted by gnanzcupid on (January 2, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

I think there is another worst innings defeat waiting for the lankans. It should be a difference of atleast an innings and 300 runs for the island in the subcontinent. Am i overrating the lankan team?

Posted by gnanzcupid on (January 2, 2013, 12:34 GMT)

If our bowlers bowl atleast to their 50% potential,lankans could be made to set the lowest test score tomorrow. No true cricket analyser can deny the fact that the current sl side is easily the worst in the world.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2013, 11:22 GMT)

dont know who to support one side i want Jay to have a good final match on the other side Hussey - hope both of them gets big scores

Posted by bumsonseats on (January 2, 2013, 10:24 GMT)

their problem is not the bowlers,were they get an additional spinner for india when their only spinner is average must be a concern. the batting after this test will also be the next set of problems. i would say they should get round to begging ponting and hussey please give us another 18 month, that said the problem will still be there , for as they say the cupboard is bare, with 2 of their present batters are T20 and in england will be walking wickets, with watson an all rounder that cannot bowl more than 10 over without a drs note

Posted by dan1234 on (January 2, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

@Sinhya - Nah, they just saw how utterly clueless SL are against pace. I'm banking on Mitch breaking a few more digits in this test. Good times.

Posted by Sandt on (January 2, 2013, 8:50 GMT)

@ Sinhya- Where is india coming between this. Instead of critising India focus on your team perfornamce which is pathetic currently.Atleast India is beating your team. Any i think Aus is giving chance to their bowlers to have match practise and they want to have a competition within the bowlers bowling to your team. As far as batting is concerened they are confidence that they can score plenty if they are palying with 3 batsmen. That shows their confidence against your bowlers.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2013, 8:27 GMT)

@Sinhya I don't think that's what it shows at all, Australia know they have a future allrounder with the bat in Mitchell Johnson and believe their batting lineup is deep enough to compensate for any potential failure if he comes up short. Clarke is in incredible form right now and so far the Sri Lankan bowlers have not had an answer for him.

Posted by Htc-Baseball on (January 2, 2013, 8:08 GMT)

5 bowlers? Just shows Australia's insecurity against our team, they would have played only 3 bowlers had they been playing against india

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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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