Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Flop show by Sri Lanka's batsmen and seamers

Australia's fast bowlers took 48 wickets at 21.75, compared to Sri Lanka's 19 at 59.47, while the home team batsmen averaged 46 per wicket compared to the visitors' 25

S Rajesh

January 7, 2013

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Peter Siddle has Kumar Sangakkara trapped lbw, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 5th day, December 18, 2012
Peter Siddle was the highest wicket-taker in the series, and also did splendidly against most of the Sri Lankan top-order batsmen © Getty Images
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For the third time in six three-Test series between these two teams, Australia blanked Sri Lanka 3-0 - the two earlier instances were in Australia in 1995-96, and in Sri Lanka in 2003-04. Leaving aside matches involving Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, no rivalry in Test cricket has been as lopsided as this one, in terms of results: Australia have won 17, Sri Lanka 1. The next-best win-loss ratio is England's 5.62 against New Zealand.

This time Australia were coming off a disappointing series defeat against South Africa, but Sri Lanka did little to challenge them: their top-order batting was poor and the fast bowlers were toothless, which left Rangana Herath with far too much to do to salvage the situation. The overall numbers for the series indicate how vast the gulf was between the two sides: Australia averaged more than 46 runs per wicket, scored three centuries and 13 fifties, and took a wicket every 49 deliveries; Sri Lanka averaged less than 25 per wicket with the bat, scored one century and eight fifties, and took a wicket every 77 deliveries.

The list of batting and bowling averages for the two sides further illustrate the differences between the two teams. Five of Australia's batsmen averaged more than 50, and another one - Phil Hughes - averaged 46.60. Among their bowlers, three of them - Jackson Bird, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson - averaged less than 20. For Sri Lanka, Kumar Sangakkara was the only one who played more than one Test and averaged more than 35 with the bat (though Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne showed plenty of promise in the one Test they played). Tillakaratne Dilshan scored the only century of the series for them - his 147 in Hobart is the third-highest score by a Sri Lankan batsman in Tests in Australia - but then spoilt his series by adding only 61 in his next five innings, to end up with a series average of 34.67. Mahela Jayawardene scored fifties in each innings in Sydney, despite which his series average was 27.67; in 29 Tests that he's played in Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa, Jayawardene averages 30.80, compared to his career average of 49.56. Thilan Samaraweera had had two fine series in England (average 50.50) and in South Africa (average 67.80), but had a forgettable six innings in Australia, averaging 13.16. Since that tour to South Africa in 2011-12, he has averaged 24.44 in 18 Test innings. Both Samaraweera and Jayawardene started this Test series with career averages of more than 50, which have fallen below that mark after the series.

The overall numbers for Australia and Sri Lanka in the series
Team W/ L Runs per wkt 100s/ 50s Bowl SR
Australia 3/ 0 46.34 3/ 13 49.03
Sri Lanka 0/ 3 24.94 1/ 8 77.26

Australia's pace attack of Siddle, Johnson, Bird and Mitchell Starc kept Sri Lanka's batsmen off-balance throughout the series - they managed to top 300 only once, and were twice bowled out for under 200. Overall, Australia's fast bowlers were superb, conceding less than 22 runs per wicket, and striking once every 7.3 overs.

For Sri Lanka's fast bowlers, this was yet another series where they failed to utilise helpful overseas conditions. They conceded nearly 60 runs per wicket, and leaked almost four per over, which meant Herath had to do both, the wicket-taking and the restricting job. He bowled more than twice the number of overs that any other Sri Lankan bowler did, and performed both roles splendidly, with 12 wickets at 33.91 and an economy rate of 3.02. No Sri Lankan bowler has taken more wickets in a series in Australia.

Pace and spin for Australia and Sri Lanka
  Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Australia pace 48 21.75 2.89 45.1 2/ 0
Sri Lanka pace 19 59.47 3.80 93.6 0/ 0
Australia spin 7 46.28 3.09 89.7 0/ 0
Sri Lanka spin 15 39.46 3.07 77.0 1/ 0

The single-biggest consistent problem for Sri Lanka on these tours has been the performance of their fast bowlers. On each of their last five tours to Australia, England or South Africa, Sri Lanka's pace attack has conceded more than 50 runs per wicket. On each of those tours, the home team fast bowlers averaged less than 33 - Australia averaged 21.75 in this series, South Africa 22.63 in 2011-12, England 32.60 in 2011, Australia 25.09 in 2007-08, and England 28.56 in 2006. Given that fast bowlers generally do most of the bowling - and are expected to do most of the damage - in these conditions, Sri Lanka's lack of firepower in these series has severely undermined the team's ability to compete.

In these five series, Chanaka Welegedara is the only Sri Lankan seamer to take more than ten wickets - he has 22 at 36.68. The next-highest wicket-taker is Dilhara Fernando, whose ten wickets have each cost him 71.60 runs. (Click here for the full list of Sri Lankan seamers in these series.)

Sri Lanka fast bowlers in their last five series in Aus, Eng and SA
Series Tests Wickets Average Strike rate Econ rate 5WI/ 10WM
In Australia, 2012-13 3 19 59.47 93.6 3.80 0/ 0
In South Africa, 2011-12 3 20 51.50 79.1 3.90 1/ 0
In England, 2011 3 21 57.19 85.3 4.01 0/ 0
In Australia, 2007-08 2 6 137.00 204.0 4.02 0/ 0
in England, 2006 3 10 74.90 133.0 3.37 0/ 0

The wicket-wise partnerships stats also indicate the gulf between the top-orders of the two sides. While Australia consistently had significant partnerships for the top six wickets, Sri Lanka struggled to put together meaningful stands. They had only two which went beyond 100 in the entire series: 161 for the fifth wicket between Dilshan and Mathews in Hobart, and 108 between Mahela Jayawardene Dimuth Karunaratne for the second wicket in Sydney. None of their other partnerships topped 70, and there were only four other half-century stands. (Click here for the full list of partnerships for Sri Lanka)

Australia, on the other hand, had five century stands, and nine half-century ones (Click here for the full list). Apart from the third wicket, there was a century stand for each of the top six wickets.

Partnership stats for each team
Wickets Aus-Runs Ave stand 100/ 50 p'ships SL-Runs Ave stand 100/ 50 p'ships
1st 281 56.20 1/ 1 115 19.16 0/ 0
2nd 284 56.80 1/ 1 198 33.00 1/ 0
3rd 187 37.40 0/ 2 198 33.00 0/ 2
4th 281 56.20 1/ 1 144 24.00 0/ 0
5th 168 33.60 1/ 0 367 61.16 1/ 2
6th 262 87.33 1/ 1 149 24.83 0/ 0
7th 144 48.00 0/ 2 75 12.50 0/ 0

Head-to-head contests

Not only was Siddle the highest wicket-taker in the series, he also did well against most of the Sri Lankan top-order batsmen, dismissing Mahela Jayawardene three times at an average of less than 20, and Sangakkara and Samaraweera twice each at single-digit average. The one batsman who played him well was Dilshan, who faced 94 balls from him without being dismissed. Dilshan also did well against Starc, scoring 74 from 92 balls. Johnson, though, had his number, dismissing him three times in 45 deliveries.

Most of the Australian batsmen had excellent stats against the Sri Lankan bowlers. Warner scored plenty against Welegedara and Shaminda Eranga, but Nuwan Kulasekara managed to keep him down to 20 from 11.1 overs. Herath, Sri Lanka's leading bowler, struggled to dismiss Clarke and Hussey, but overall he had pretty good numbers against both right and left-hand batsmen.

Head-to-head contests in the series
Batsman Bowler Runs Balls Dismissals Average
Tillakaratne Dilshan Mitchell Johnson 20 45 3 6.67
Mahela Jayawardene Peter Siddle 59 119 3 19.67
Dimuth Karunaratne Jackson Bird 15 51 3 3.00
Thilan Samaraweera Peter Siddle 7 42 2 3.50
Tillakaratne Dilshan Mitchell Starc 74 92 1 74.00
Kumar Sangakkara Peter Siddle 18 59 2 9.00
Tillakaratne Dilshan Peter Siddle 38 94 0 -
David Warner Chanaka Welegedara 61 76 0 -
David Warner Chaminda Eranga 56 55 0 -
David Warner Nuwan Kulasekara 20 67 0 -
Ed Cowan Chanaka Welegedara 39 69 2 19.50
Michael Clarke Rangana Herath 95 173 1 95.00
Michael Hussey Rangana Herath 64 114 0 -
Right-hand batsmen Rangana Herath 154 318 5 30.80
Left-hand batsmen Rangana Herath 254 490 7 36.28

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by Mitcher on (January 9, 2013, 6:56 GMT)

I really don't see how this particular article has been hijacked by a debate about which pitches are fair and which are not (though its a worthy debate elsewhere). The fact is, as backed up overwhelmingly by the stats, that Sri Lanka have not been near good enough at any time in their history to seriously challenge Australia in Test cricket. Regardless of whether they've met on bouncy or turning wickets. No insulting arguments about race-based umpiring (honestly?) or completely baseless talk of pitches (in this instance) can change that. Lets hope this changes as I can't think of many who don't want to see a strong Sri Lanka in world cricket.

Posted by ex-Srilankan on (January 9, 2013, 1:09 GMT)

"given the "Anglo" nations is where cricket started, it really should be up to the non-"Anglo" nations to prep pitches that are similar to the "Anglo" pitches! Grow up, "

What an arrogant statement. Modern cricket belongs to everyone who plays it, you do not get a leg-up because you "started" the game. Like I posted earlier, cricket pitches in the sub-continent are part of test cricket as much as pitches in non-sub continental countries. Performances of fast bowlers from Australia, England etc should be tested on slow wickets just as much as batsmen from the sub-continent should be tested on fast wickets. Cricket is not only for fast bowlers.

As for sub continental teams playing too much ODIs and T20s, that is a separate debate. T20 is a recent phenomenon but the debate about pitches and the poor away performances of sub continental batsmen has been going on for decades.

Posted by Harmony111 on (January 9, 2013, 0:13 GMT)

@ Meety: Loads of contradictions in your comment, shows how confused and patronizing you are. You say that it is upto the non-anglo nations to make pitches that are similar to anglo pitches and later you say that Test cricket is about playing in all conditions. What KingOwl said was partially right. If a test match in Aus/SA/Eng gets over in 3 days then it is a good test match played in testing conditions while if a test match in Ind/SL/Pak gets over in 3 days then it leads to a pitch complaint. There is plenty of evidence for this. I am sure you know about it. Thus, the anglo nations do manage to put some pressure on the home boards to ensure the pitches are not too much against them. And pls tell me why is it ok for a team to have 4 seamers but not ok to have 4 spinners? It is this hypocrisy that rankles the non-anglo nations. Tests are meant for ALL CONDITIONS, remember? You begin with a belief that the way anglos play tests is the only or the best way....Sheer Hypocrisy.

Posted by 6pack on (January 8, 2013, 16:10 GMT)

I'm an SL fan and this forum is like attending an AA meeting... I have to admit very clearly and loudly that we have a problem. We just don't have the skills to do well in test cricket. The causes are numerous and well documented by various folks here. Lack of confidence is probably one of them, particularly against Australia... I'd like to see more emphasis on Test cricket from SLC, but that's as likely to happen as Colombo getting snowed in in July. Here's hoping that Dimuth Karunaratne, Thirimanne and Chandimal along with Matthews can start building the SL team... maybe in 5-10 years we'll see some progress.

Posted by Sinhaya on (January 8, 2013, 16:10 GMT)

@Meety, spot on right. The word test cricket means a "THOROUGH TEST" in all conditions and it is essential you do well for 15 sessions simply. First step is home success of course. Must capitalize on home success to succeed abroad. Australia no doubt has consistently performed well overseas EXCEPT from 1960 to 1998 where they did not win a single test match in Pakistan. I saw this in another cricket source and I am afraid cricinfo wont post the link. Just go to google and and type "Australia Pakistan head to head tests" and you will see. I am sure you know it already. Other than that, Aussies excelled in England.

Longer the game goes more your flaws get exposed. Our youngsters made an impression at the SCG. Hopefully they will be better prepared when we return to Australia in Jan 2019 as per the ICC FTP. Hope to see you all in Sri Lanka for a bilateral series in July 2016. Until then, lets enjoy the ODIs.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

yes there may be a few myopic & biased people in media management etc that bash turning pitches but real fans of the game understand that their is nothing wrong with using home advantage as long as it is not dangerous to the players safety. Cricket is already considered a bore by many so why would we want to make it even more so by having uniform conditions around the world? what the anglo coutries have excelled at or are trying to improve on is how they prepare players for foreign conditions. This is why Amla, Cook, Clarke, Pietersen Steyn, Anderson, Panesar Swann ect have been able to perform well in sub continent conditions.even Windies with a weakened team were able to push India in India in 2011. BCCI et al are failing 2 do this & should look nowhere else to put the blame but in the mirror. better schedule & Injury management is also essential, losing key players to injury does not help the teams cause

Posted by Sinhaya on (January 8, 2013, 15:58 GMT)

@Meety, spot on right. The word test cricket means a "THOROUGH TEST" in all conditions and it is essential you do well for 15 sessions simply. First step is home success of course. Must capitalize on home success to succeed abroad. Australia no doubt has consistently performed well overseas EXCEPT from 1960 to 1998 where they did not win a single test match in Pakistan. I saw this in another cricket source and I am afraid cricinfo wont post the link. Just go to google and and type "Australia Pakistan head to head tests" and you will see. I am sure you know it already. Other than that, Aussies excelled in England most of the time.

Longer the game goes more your flaws get exposed. Our youngsters made an impression at the SCG. Hopefully they will be better prepared when we return to Australia in Jan 2019 as per the ICC FTP. Hope to see you all in Sri Lanka for a bilateral series in July 2016. Until then, lets enjoy the ODIs.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 15:54 GMT)

people like shehan & kingowl need to grow up & admit that the Asian teams except Pakistan with all their challenges suck @ test cricket right now. making excuses about umpiring & pitches is just pathetic. India & SriLanka are being beaten at home & away & they concentrate way too much on t20 circuses that yes earn money but do very little to produce quality cricketers. I was so looking forward to west indies beating Sri Lanka this year after being deprived by rain on their last tour. I would not be surprised if Australia beat India in India later this year even without ponting & hussey. Asian countries need to get with the times & learn to use the Drs system if they are going to be continually whining about poor umpiring. While it is not perfect if used wisely it will reduce the number of howlers as umpires are only human. instead of desperately using reviews hoping & begging they should be used when 1 is confident that there was an error in judgement.

Posted by Sinhaya on (January 8, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

@Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land, I agree but dont talk injuries. We too lost 3 men at the MCG test like the 1999 test in Kandy and that is a part of the game. I agree our worse test record is against Aussies both home and away and time we work hard to overcome it. With other teams, we have something to boast about test stats at home, but not Australia.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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