Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Clarke leads all-round team effort

Australia's marks out of ten for the Test series against Sri Lanka

Brydon Coverdale

January 7, 2013

Comments: 37 | Text size: A | A

Another century for Michael Clarke in 2012, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 2nd day, December 27, 2012
For the third consecutive home series, Michael Clarke was named Player of the Series © Getty Images
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8
Michael Clarke (316 runs at 79.00)
For the third consecutive home campaign, Clarke was named Player of the Series. He didn't make quite so immense scores as he had against India last summer or South Africa earlier this season, but he made at least a half-century in four of his five innings, failing to reach the mark only in the Sydney chase when the fans wanted a wicket to fall so Michael Hussey would walk to the crease. He looked well on the way to another hundred in the second innings in Hobart when he retired hurt with a hamstring injury on 57 from 46 balls and he carried the niggle through a century in Melbourne to help deliver Australia the series. He was, as always, aggressive in his captaincy and by declaring earlier than most observers expected in the first innings in Hobart, he allowed enough time for a result in a rain-affected Test. Now, Clarke can enjoy a well-deserved rest.

7.5
Michael Hussey (232 runs at 116.00, 9 catches)
In his farewell series, Hussey played an important role in two of Australia's three victories. In Hobart, his first-innings 115, and the brisk rate at which he scored, allowed Clarke to make his early declaration. In Sydney, his unbeaten 27 ensured Australia would not falter in their small chase and while he didn't manage to hit the winning runs, he and the Sydney fans appreciated the fact that he was in the middle when it counted. Throughout the series, Hussey was typically outstanding in the field and his nine catches included swirling skied balls and straightforward edges. Australia will miss Mr Cricket not only with the bat but also in the field.

Matthew Wade (191 runs at 63.66, 14 catches)
An unbeaten 68 in the first innings in Hobart was useful, but Wade's real contribution was his 102 not out at the SCG, which was all the more impressive as he had been promoted to No.6. He batted well with the tail and was ready for more runs - as was the case in Hobart - when Clarke called the batsmen in. Wade is becoming an increasingly valuable member of the side and although his glovework remains inconsistent, he contributed 14 catches to the series win. None was more impressive than his catch to remove Kumar Sangakkara off a top edge for 58 at the MCG, when he sprinted back towards the boundary and timed his dive perfectly.

David Warner (272 runs at 54.40)
That Warner averaged more than 50 in this series without any not-outs or hundreds is an indication of his consistency. Apart from his golden duck in the last innings of the series, he reached fifty in every other innings. Importantly, he is also batting longer, a key factor for Test openers. Last summer, in his first season of Test cricket, he survived for an hour only twice from his ten innings. This season against South Africa and Sri Lanka, he did so seven times from ten innings. Whether he can maintain such consistency against India and England is the big question, but there is no doubt Warner is growing as a Test batsman, and he contributed to all three of Australia's wins.

Peter Siddle (15 wickets at 16.93)
The heart and soul of Australia's attack during the South African series, Siddle remained so against Sri Lanka. His nine-wicket match in Hobart was another bravura performance in a bowling group that was one man down - Ben Hilfenhaus had gone off injured in the first innings - and it was Siddle who ran through Sri Lanka's No.3 to 6 batsmen in the chase. His workload in Melbourne and Sydney was reduced but he made valuable strikes throughout the series.


Jackson Bird celebrates after bowling Mahela Jayawardene, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 3rd day, December 28, 2012
Jackson Bird was Australia's find of the summer © Getty Images
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Jackson Bird (11 wickets at 16.18)
Australia's find of the summer. Bird is an unassuming type who runs in and does his job, and his job was to build pressure, deny runs and nip batsmen out with his bounce and subtle swing and seam movement. Unfazed by the atmosphere during his Boxing Day debut, he slotted in seamlessly to Test cricket and was so good in collecting seven wickets in Sydney that he was Man of the Match. He offered Stuart Clark-like control and by the end of the series, it was hard to imagine the Australians heading to the Ashes this year without Bird, even if the full complement of fast men are fit.

7
Mitchell Johnson (9 wickets at 19.00, 106 runs at 106.00)
After sitting out in Hobart, Johnson was a major contributor to Australia's victory at the MCG, where he was included and Mitchell Starc was controversially left out. As he was banging in awkward short deliveries the Sri Lankans might have been wishing Starc, who had bowled Australia to victory at Bellerive Oval, had been included. Better Starc's yorkers than Johnson's hand-crushers. He was responsible for breaking Kumar Sangakkara's hand and Prasanna Jayawardene's thumb, and it was a brief flashback to the Johnson of 2008-09. By scoring 92 not out Johnson also secured the Man of the Match award. In Sydney he was quieter, with three wickets.

Phillip Hughes (233 runs at 46.60)
Just as disco struggled to penetrate the late 80s, Hughes is also finding it difficult to push through into the 90s at the moment. This series brought scores of 86 and 87 for Hughes, who also scored 88 in Johannesburg last season shortly before being axed. His return has been in the less familiar position of No.3 and while it is too early to judge if he should remain there, his contributions in this series - including 34 in the small chase in Sydney - were encouraging. He showed a willingness to pull and appeared to have improved his technique from his earlier forays into the Test side. He just needs to make sure he doesn't remain Disco Phil for too long.

Mitchell Starc (10 wickets at 28.70)
Australia would not have won the first Test were it not for Starc. Sri Lanka were threatening to hang on for a draw until Starc ran through the lower order in Hobart, where he found a little extra bounce at times, and also targeted the yorker. His 5 for 63 meant great controversy ensued when he was rested at the MCG, where Australia's selectors were concerned about the likelihood he would break down. He returned in Sydney and collected another four wickets, and remains the most durable of Australia's young fast men.


Ed Cowan cuts on his way to a half-century, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 4th day, December 17, 2012
Ed Cowan's numbers might appear lean but he still made useful contributions to Australia's victories © Getty Images
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5
Ed Cowan (136 runs at 27.20)
The numbers don't look good for Cowan, but if an opener's primary role is to take the shine off the new ball then he is still doing his job. In his five innings this series he averaged 96 minutes at the crease, more than enough time to dull the initial threat. In comparison to Warner he was less productive, but an opening partnership is a two-man affair and Australia's opening stands averaged a respectable 56.20 this series. His second-innings 56 in Hobart was valuable in dragging the Test out of Sri Lanka's reach and his steady 36 in Sydney ensured Australia breathed easier following the loss of Warner for a duck in their chase of 141. He didn't help himself with an embarrassing run-out in the first innings at the SCG, but overall Cowan's series was not as bad as it might appear on paper.

Shane Watson (118 runs at 39.33, 2 wickets at 56.00)
Watson's slide down the batting order continued with his presence at No.4 in the first two Tests. His 83 at the MCG was a good innings but it was also a missed opportunity for a man with only two Test centuries. But the big concern was the calf injury Watson sustained after his heavy bowling workload in Hobart, where he sent down a career-high 47.4 overs. After being ruled out of the Sydney Test, Watson indicated for the first time that he would consider giving up bowling to concentrate on his batting.

4
Nathan Lyon (7 wickets at 43.85)
In terms of his bowling average this was Lyon's worst Test series, but he remains Australia's best Test spin-bowling option. There were times when he deceived the batsmen - his flight drew Lahiru Thirimanne into a loose shot when he was 91 in Sydney - but too often he appeared to be going through the motions. Still, he will be an important player for Australia in their upcoming tours of India and England, and has also succeeded Hussey as the leader of the team song.

1
Ben Hilfenhaus (1 wicket at 30.00)
Injured in Hobart, his only contribution to the series was nipping the ball away to have Dimuth Karunaratne caught behind before he started to feel pain in his side.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 9, 2013, 21:31 GMT)

@R_U_4_REAL_NICK,

Wade was "wearing his shoes on his hands instead of gloves". I almost fell over laughing at this, so true. And his gloves he probably thought were meant to carry the drinks in!

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 8, 2013, 22:38 GMT)

Joseph Langford - 5 wickets is not even close to losing. Yes we did everything wrong in this test, send the opposiition in, bowl poorly early, get caught in the deep, heaps of run-outs, averaging bowling in the second innings, many dropped catches. But we still won comfortably.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 8, 2013, 21:00 GMT)

Michael Hussey (232 runs at 116.00, 9 catches) and only gets 7.5? Really? Even RandyOZ is surprised his new 'favourite wicket-keeper batsmen ever' is scored so highly despite him wearing his shoes on his hands instead of gloves for most games... That's the only way one could explain so many dropped sitters.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 12:47 GMT)

@ Shaggy076 .... Aust was close to losing. If that first ball to Hughes had of swung a few more inches Australia would have been 2/0. Even at 4/108 .... Australia lost 5/41 against NZ just over 12mths ago.

@ fazald .... Ed Cowan batted perfectly in this scenario. He didn't play a loose, rash shot like Warner and give his wicket away. He carried his bat for over 30-overs until Australia had passed 100. In fact .... he top scored for Australia in the innings. It was a good opener's knock.

@ THE REST OF YOU who want to replace Watson for Cowan .... Watson's average since August 2011 (20 Innings) has been 26.4. This is significantly lower than Cowan's average.

I am not saying that Cowan's game is perfect and would recommend that he play as many Shield Matches as he possibly can before India. In between games he should meet with Lyon at the nets. While Lyon learns about varying speed of delivery, Cowan can learn to use his feet against spin.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 8, 2013, 11:15 GMT)

Fazald - Did I read your comment right we nearly lost because Cowan was so defensive. 1) We were not even close to losing 2) Cowans contribution was significant in us winning.

Posted by Big-Dog on (January 8, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

Criticism of Cowan is largely unjustified. Because of the T20 culture that is infecting Cricket, people have forgotton what the real role of a test opener is & that is to take the shine off the new ball & set up a platform for the middle order. A role that Cowan does pretty well imho.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (January 8, 2013, 6:43 GMT)

Cowan is just not good enough. He's now had 4 series in a row, half of them easy home series and only averages 32 with just 1 century on a flat home pitch. Had a better player been in his stead, we might have been no.1 by now in the final match with SA. I'd be looking for Watson, Hughes or Burns to open with Warner, despite me not feeling good about Watson being in the top 5 at all. I hope they take 'our' KP in Kurtis Patterson on tour, just for the experience at least.

Posted by Mad_Hamish on (January 8, 2013, 3:36 GMT)

I don't see how Wade manages a 7.5 his keeping was terrible. Watched a couple of the 20-20s where Paine is playing for Tassie and the difference in class behind the wickets is apparent. I think Johnson is somewhat hard done by only getting a 7 when he's got a bowling average of 19 and a batting average over 100 (especially if Starc gets a 7 when his bowling average was 28.7, yeah he had a good spell in Hobart but his bowling earlier in the test was a large part of why Sri Lanka held on long enough to need that spell, if he took 5-63 in that innings and 10-287 that means his other innings combined for 5-224...) Hussey is also probably being underrated, did very little wrong in the series and looked by far the most comfortable bat in Aus' second innings in Sydney. He'll be badly missed in India.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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