Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Problems for Australia, promise for Sri Lanka

Australia trail 2-1 with one match to play and there are plenty of issues for Mickey Arthur's side to work through

Daniel Brettig

January 20, 2013

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

David Hussey evades a short ball, Australia v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Sydney, January 20, 2013
Weaknesses in Australia's batting order have been repeatedly exposed by Sri Lanka © Getty Images

Australia still deficient against the moving ball
Mickey Arthur, the Australia coach, had wanted to "find out about a few players" during this series. A trio of pitches offering something to the seam bowlers in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney have given him more information than he may have wanted. The travails of the batsmen against the diligent but hardly intimidating swing and seam of Nuwan Kulasekara have made for dire viewing with this year's tour of England in mind, demonstrating both a lack of technical tightness to handle the moving ball and a mental strength to push through difficult patches. The effect of two new Kookaburra balls in ODIs has been to emulate the more prolonged movement offered by the Dukes projectile favoured in the UK, and for three matches in succession it has been the bowlers who were better able to glimpse wider scoring windows with the bat. It is no coincidence that Australia's strongest result came on a concrete-like Melbourne surface. Apart from The Oval, such a strip will be hard to find during the Tests in India and England that are looming on Arthur's calendar.

Sri Lanka's young batsmen show promise
There are rumblings emanating from Sri Lanka that the installation of a new selection panel may herald the end of Mahela Jayawardene's days in the national team at the end of this tour. If that is so, then the next generation is standing up at precisely the right time. Lahiru Thirimanne's contributions in both the Sydney Test and the ODIs were heartening, while Kushal Perera showed enough spunk as the wicketkeeper-batsman to keep his place for batting alone when the exceedingly promising Dinesh Chandimal returned to fitness from a hamstring strain. While the question of Jayawardene's future is complicated - he remains the best leader Sri Lanka possess, by a distance - the emergence of the aforementioned youthful trio should bring about the conclusion of Thilan Samaraweera's days in the national team. Australia would be grateful for a batting talent or two of Chandimal's ilk.

Rotation is becoming a divisive issue
While there is some sound long-term thinking at the core of the selectors' decision to rest key players during this series and also to be more choosy about which fast bowlers are picked in Test matches, the method behind the madness has been lost on many, including those choosing state teams. If criticism from the public and the media is more than likely to wash over John Inverarity's panel, the following words from the former national chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns, now holding the equivalent post for Queensland, show that doubt about the policy is festering. Hohns was asked on ABC Radio whether he would have done the same if still in charge: "It's a difficult one to answer, that one. Times are different but possibly not ... Way back then, we often rotated or rested players only in one-day cricket and at an appropriate time. I think unfortunately at the moment they are having trouble getting their message across over exactly what they are trying to do." Hohns' words arrived after a meeting of state talent managers with the selectors in Adelaide during the national Under-19s carnival, where there was more than one difference of opinion. It should also be noted that before he sternly insisted on the term "informed player management", Inverarity stated in October that "rotation is not a dirty word. Rotation is reality". Reality bites.

With Malinga, Sri Lanka's attack goes from mediocre to strong
Kulasekara's repeated success against the Australians in this series can be at least partly linked to Lasith Malinga's presence in the XI, offering another serious pace threat and meaning the batsmen have been caught in more than one mind against the former's seam and swing. Rather than simply treating each ball with due respect, they have had to contend with the thought that Malinga's overs still lurk ahead in the innings, resulting in some mixed strokes keenly exploited by Kulasekara. The introduction of Rangana Herath to the team for Sydney was another improvement to the ODI line-up, for his consistency will invariably result in a wicket or two through sustained pressure and subtle variations even if the surface is not offering enough turn to beat the bat.

Hussey and Maxwell should be at the fringes of the top six, if at all
Auditions to replace Michael Hussey as a middle order fix-it man have so far been dispiriting. For all their undoubted talent as hitters, and varying usefulness as part-time spin bowlers, David Hussey and Glenn Maxwell have been shown as clearly lacking the technical chops to handle anything other than the most occasional early innings assignments, and only then in an emergency. Maxwell's walking footwork in Adelaide was destined to end in an outside edge and so it proved, while Hussey's outstanding first-class career figures do not reveal the lack of certainty and security against the short ball that was exposed during last year's World Twenty20 semi-final against the West Indies and was underlined by Lasith Malinga at the SCG. Maxwell and Hussey remain in contention to tour India as Test-match utility players, but if they do should not be asked to bat any higher than Nos. 6 or 7.

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

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Posted by Mary_786 on (January 21, 2013, 10:38 GMT)

Good point Brendon_Edward, Clarkey has always consistently spoken in favour of Khawaja so i am also not sure what Cluegeek is on about. In fact the selectors have got Khawaja firmly in their radar for the Indian series so all this talk of conspiracy theories is just baseless conversation.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 21, 2013, 10:06 GMT)

@ClueGeek you obviously are not thinking before typing your comments. Clarke and Khawaja get along well, they went to the same school, both are from NSW, the issue is not Clarke, its Inevarity. Clarke was the first captain to bring a sub continent player in Khawaja into the team and both will be stars for us in the ashes.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 21, 2013, 5:48 GMT)

After the last few ODI's i am over these all rounders, Maxwell is not a allrounder. If someone like Maxwell actually could bat or bowl, then great, but I haven't seen any of them do either. Not to keep going on Watson, he's probably not half the player he was 09-10, but he was averaging like what, 45 at opener? And taking a handful of wickets most games. THAT is an all rounder.Someone who makes 20, then takes 1 wicket every game or two is not an all rounder. Our real problem is the top order and we need solid top order batsman and Khawaja and Doolan are among the best that we have at the moment so lets get them in for India

Posted by Jay32 on (January 21, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

No doubt, Australian top order batsmen need to work on their technique against seaming and swinging balls. Having said that , all batsmen around the world have technical issues when the ball swings or seams bit more than normal. The issue currently plaguing Australia is all to do with the selection of certain half baked all-rounders who do not warrant a place as a batsman nor as a bowler and the other issue is not picking top order players who have scored centuries on difficult batting pitches in the shield matches. The sole purpose of any top 4 batsmen in a batting line up is to be able to score 100s on difficult pitches where bowlers have the upper hand . A top order must be defined on basis of how good the player is when the conditions don't favor the batsman. At present how many top order batsmen are capable of scoring 100s and that should be the only criteria to pick a player to bat at top 4. Right now Watson,Warner, Hughes,Khawaja and Clarke fit the norm.

Posted by joeyinoz on (January 21, 2013, 3:19 GMT)

This reinforces my view that batsman need to be prevented from using DRS speculatively. Batsmen should not review an LBW unless they believe they have hit it. Clarke reviewed a 50-50 decision at best, and it turned out to be plumb. Batsmen need to stop reviewing in hope and only use DRS when they know, or are 90% sure, that the umpire has erred.

Posted by azzaman333 on (January 21, 2013, 2:23 GMT)

How exactly did was Hussey's supposed short ball weakness exploited at the SCG? From memory, Malinga bowled one short ball to him, and it was a brute of a delivery. He got out to an outstanding spell of fast outswing bowling that no player in world cricket would've been comfortable facing.

Posted by ygkd on (January 21, 2013, 1:42 GMT)

Rotation is a divisive issue. Australia struggles against spin. It also has too many best suited to number 6 ( including David Hussey who does need to bowl as well) or to number 7. Sri Lanka do have some upsides in ODIs. All in all, I can't see why Daniel Brettig should cop flak for this article other than for stating the bleedin' obvious. And that's doing no great disservice to journailism.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (January 21, 2013, 0:37 GMT)

@Junikamra some excellent points and i echo your every word, Khawaja has to be bought in sooner rather then later. Also Can we bring back the tri-series, they are so much better then the 5 ODIs.I don't want to throw Khawaja's name around too much but he deserves it. For him though it does put pressure every time he bats beause he has tons of people saying "where the hell is he, he's the best, he will save us" for months and months. What he needs is a run similar to what Cowan annd others have had at test level and not feel like if he doesn't score 200 he'll be dropped for another two years which is what he got when he got dropped after the first ODI for getting a unlucky run out.As for the DRS, treat it like run outs & stumpings, but only if player body language causes the need for a look at.

Posted by Mary_786 on (January 21, 2013, 0:20 GMT)

With regards the spot for India, Rohit sums it up the best.Khawja's440 shield runs at 40 in sheild stacks up veyr well against Hussey who has 120 at 17 and Bailey who has 169 runs at 28.16. And the lack of runs against the moving ball for Bailey and Huss further makes their case weaker. One of my Indian friend at work said to me that funny how India did not want DRS and we Aussies whinge when we had wickets turned down or given out when not out sayig that we can't have cake and eat it as well. I don't necessary agree, I am not critical of India's decision as that's their call but i think for us the lesson to learn from yesterday that no top order batsman should ask for a DRS unless they get a howler as you ruin it for the rest of the team, Clarke did it yesterday and Hughes was guilty of it the game before. I am sure we will learn our lessons.

Posted by ClueGeek on (January 20, 2013, 23:42 GMT)

Those who are calling for Khawaja's to come and rescue Australian batting line up, please leave selection matters to selectors and Clarke. If Clarke doesn't like Khawaja or doesn't get along well with him, it's Khawaja's bad luck. Clarke is an absolute superstar and one of the best batsman in a long time. He should have the right to decide who he wants around him and in the dressing room and decision can't just be left on averages and performances as team culture is more important and strong captains build strong teams the way they like it. As far as Khawaja's concerned, he should have worked hard at gaining Clarke's approval.

Posted by disco_bob on (January 20, 2013, 23:08 GMT)

@KURUWITA "If Starc wouldn't put the half century Aus would have been all out around 170" If Warner had not been given out with a massive thick edge howler, Australia would've been all out for 270.

Posted by Doonish on (January 20, 2013, 21:37 GMT)

Fleming_Dean et al, Brettig said nothing about Bailey, actually. Just some things about Hussey and Maxwell. Bailey I think has potential to be an excellent international cricketer, though his Shield average this season means you wouldn't think he'd be first choice for the test spot at this stage.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2013, 21:08 GMT)

@ NAP73

Let's see ...... a loss by Australia would have meant -

1) An embarrassing loss at the SCG 2) An embarrassing series loss at the SCG 3) An embarrassing series loss at the home of most of the controling NSWCB 4) An embarrassing series loss at the home of most of the CH9 NSW Presenters 5) An embarrassing series loss at the home of Clarke, breaking his 'god-status' 6) An embarrassing series record for Clarke at 0-2, Bailey's is 1-1. 7) An embarrassing 3rd ODI Series in a row that Clarke has not won.

Oh yes ... the groundspeople would have being working frantically lay out covers protecting the bowling run ups and to sop up the drizzle.

ps. If you want to list to an expert about rain effected ODI playing conditions then you should listen to MJ. They just won a series against NZ 3-0 in a 5-game series ..... the 3-wins were by D/L and the two others were abandoned.

Posted by NAP73 on (January 20, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

Bing 'robbed' and the groundsman 'in chaoots'. You must be joking. Unlike other places, Oz is not corrupt enough (yet). I would not have wanted any more injuries to bowlers/fielders either, though it would be an interesting negligence claim... P.S. Everyone already knows Oz is hopeless at present and an ODI series is quickly forgotten after it is played. Also, there was sufficient time for a T20 (the future of money-making cricket).

Posted by   on (January 20, 2013, 19:52 GMT)

@TheBigBoodha ...... in regards to the condition of the grounds it depends on what evidence you want to hear.

1) MJ wanted to bat 2) Then there was all the booing at the grounds when the announcement was made. 3) Then there's, Posted by Shayne Carter on (January 20 2013, 14:12 PM GMT) I was at the was dry enough to play for an hour before they called it off, and it stopped raining half an hour before was the third bad call that the umpires had made this evening. (

If you have studied physics by water doesn't sit on top of the ground, as described by Clarke, unless the ground below is saturated and the ground is flat. The drizzle at the SCG certainly would not have saturated the ground. The SCG is a premier sports venue with millions spend on drainage and field drying equipment. I reckon that if Australia were batting we would have seen a different decision.

Posted by KhanMitch on (January 20, 2013, 14:08 GMT)

Good comment @ Jimmyrob83. I was critical of Brettig as i felt he has been unfarily harsh on the likes of Khawaja and Hughes in the past but the fact is that he rightly gives credit where its due and says where the weakness's lie with the players as it stands. What he has said on D Hussey and Bailey is 100% correct, they have shown that they cannot bat against the moving ball and cannot get the number 6 spot for the coming Indian series. Rightly so Khawaja and Doolan are deserving candidates with Khawaja as the number 6 and Doolan as backup. And regardless of Clarke and Warner's mistake in using the review when it was clearly a waste , the two massive inside edges that resulted in the two blind umpires giving decisions should not have happened but i would still keep the reviews in the players hands as giviing it to the umpires would cause too many delays as the umpires would review everything.

Posted by Herath-UK on (January 20, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

Finally it is the match referee who was Srinath who lacked the courage & knowhow to stand upto the situation to continue the game as his priority.He too may not have been overtly keen to start the game for obvious reasons. Ranil Herath - Kent

Posted by Optic on (January 20, 2013, 13:51 GMT)

@RoJayao Oh bless I think you're trying to be funny aren't you, sounds to me like the denial is strong in this one, I suppose it's whatever makes you feel better. Get yourself on utube and watch some of his highlights if you think that, eg,Pakistan series in '10 or India '11, should be easy to find. Kulasekara's bowled very well but he's military medium which makes it far easier to face and if you think the ball won't swing big in England, you can't have watched cricket from there. Anderson's known for swinging the ball big, both ways and very late in England, I mean he's only been doing it in England for years, especially when the conditions are right, to deny that is weird. Also you can't have watched much cricket if you think the ball has to swing around corners to destroy a batting line up, it just has to do enough to fool batsmen and take edges and when Anderson has it swinging both ways, just like he did against you're lot in the last Ashes, he'll win games.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (January 20, 2013, 13:25 GMT)

@Lord.emsworth, everyone was saying the umpires didn't play fair? Try the poster below you, @Chris-P. He was at the game, and said the rain never let up, and he got soaked. So who should we believe? The whining conspiracy theorists like you who are three thousand miles away, or the guy at the ground? Amazing that even after the total fiasco of Warner and Henriques being given out in ridiculous fashion by the same umpires, you now believe they are against Sri Lanka. Given SLs dodgy batting history in such conditions, it was Australia who should feel hard done by here, and that's why they wanted to stay on the field, and why SL wanted to leave.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (January 20, 2013, 13:23 GMT)

@Rojayao you are sorely mistaken if you think Kulasakra offers stiffer resistance then Anderson, Broad, Finn, Tremlett and Bresnan, it will be 4 times as worse then we saw today hence the need to get the right personnel at the top of the order. Kulasakra is a very good bowler but 4 quality bowlers working in a pack are much tougher then 1 or 2 good bowlers which is what we are against this series.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 20, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

David Hussey have been very dissapointing this series, his footwork against the moving ball looked very shaky over the last few games and I knew about his issues with a good bouncer but today it was clear that he is not able to handle it very well. Its good that we find this out now so we can make the correct call on the Indian series and it should mean that Khawaja gets the number 6 spot with possibly either Christian or Doolan taking the reserve spot. Its a shame Khawaja didn't get more then 1 game as it would have been the perfect audition to show his talents against the moving ball which many of you have already pointed out.Bailey is another one who has been dissapointing and in four-day cricket he has been averaging less then 30. David Hussey is averaging 17 so none of these guys should be contenders for the number 6 spot anymore.Then there is all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, but he has not staked his claim as a batsman or bowler.

Posted by Mary_786 on (January 20, 2013, 12:56 GMT)

@Junikamra you make some good points, no doubt that I agree with you that Khawaja was just the man to bring in for the last few games as he is a fantastic player on bowler friendly pitches but i disagree on your assessment of Marsh. Marsh did fail against the Indians and averaged 3.6 in that series but he was picked because he had scored a century on debut against the Sri Lankans so it was tough to keep him out. Ideally I see both Khawaja and Marsh as important team members of our future lineup but for now Khawaja is the man and should be the first person to replace for the Indian tour and hopefully the next game in Hobart as well. Marsh should get the gig for the T20 match against the Sri Lankans and it will be well deserved as he is a fantastic bloke on and off the field. Brettig is right in saying that D Hussey and Bailey can't get the number 6 spot in our test team based on their inability to score in tougher pitches. @Rohit Pande fantastic analysis mate.

Posted by KhanMitch on (January 20, 2013, 12:49 GMT)

@Hyclass it was good the game was called off, at least now we have an opportunity to level the series. I think the australia cricket public is getting sick off tired of resting players, put the best team in please?and bring in Khawaja and also Marsh(two of the best batsmen in australia and get rid of hussy)

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (January 20, 2013, 12:39 GMT)

Everyone are saying that the umpires didnt play fair in calling off the match. A 3/1 SL lead was on the cards. Shows the need for 2 neutral umpire not one. Reading through Daniels article I feel that Oz have never really succeeded in finding a real deal replacement for Ponting and earlier on for Slater, Taylor, and even earlier on for the Chappels etc. And yes, rotation is a madness. SL's Fast bowling is strong, but just their ODI side. Malinga cant do tests and their Test bunch of Welegedera, Pradeep, Prassad,Eranga etc are mediocre.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 20, 2013, 12:30 GMT)

@HycIass. The drizzle didn't let up. I was standing out of it for about 10 minutes talking, seemingly thinking it was a really light drizzle & I was soaked! It just didn't let up. As quick as the water was getting soaked & drained up, the constant drizzle was still keeping it there. All in, very, very frustrating. fiortunately the company of drinks & friends helped! The pitch was really helpful to the bowlers early on, it really was a toss to field first, so couldn't work out why we chose to bat on that pitch when it had so much "zoom" in it.

Posted by Junikamra on (January 20, 2013, 12:19 GMT)

Dear Mr.Arthur there is a batsman whom name is "Usman Khawaja" pick up his performances of this season on seeming pitches and you will think why this player is sitting outside.. according to you last year series against india when you cnsistently giving chances to shaun marsh whose high score in 8 test inning against india was i think 18 nd you said that the person who could replace ponting is usman khawaja so why are you doing injustice with this God gifted technically sound player whose performance in this season in both sheffle shield and ryobi cup is good i am talking about player who perform good in seeming conditions.. so think about him nd give him a chance in place of hughes in last odi against srilanka.. how many time hughes will be failed on base of 1 century on a flat pitch.. i am not defending or against anyone what i think is good for aus cricket i am saying that may be i am wrong but you can atleast try khwaja at opening slaute..

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (January 20, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

David Hussey was a good batsman but at present looks out of his depth against the moving ball and quality bouncers. He faced an out-swinging delivery today and you can see EACH of his 3 stumps because his feet are outside the line of leg stump. Bailey's biggest sin was not going on when he was set. Usman who was standby batsman in two Tests this summer, his 440 shield runs at 40 in sheild and this stacks up ver well against Hussey who has 120 at 17 and Bailey who has 169 runs at 28.16 in shield cricket. Khawaja was also was not in bad touch in an ordinary team, Sydney Thunder, in the BBL, rolling out 206 runs at 41. Khawaja should be now at the top of the queue for the Indian series but I would still take David Hussey as backup batsman as he is better then Maxwell.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (January 20, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

Aus again failed to score. If Starc wouldn't put the half century Aus would have been all out around 170. There is a big problem in the batting order.

Posted by owlseye on (January 20, 2013, 11:54 GMT)

Would have been a great match to watch if that was not abandoned due to rain and wet conditions, I think Sri Lankan fielders were a bit floppy at the latter part of the Ausie innings which should be rectified for the finale. One cannot do anything against the umpiring error that was done by both the officers and the case might have been the same in the Sri Lankan innings if the match continued. Anyway the next is the rubber, Good luck to both sides for a great match.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (January 20, 2013, 11:48 GMT)

To continue, the stupidity is to basically treat this series lightly, and to lose respect for the culture of winning. The idea has been to keep the eye on India and England series. But how on Earth does what they are doing here in any way help? Rotating guys in and out - NONE of them having time to score runs or take wickets - resting the guys in form and returning them out of form! It's a total circus. A complete and utter shambles. Winning is the best way to prepare for success later on, not half-hearted efforts in minor lead up series. Failure in such series only breeds doubt and a culture of failure. They should have approached this series 100% committed from the word go, and stuck with the same team core. This entire fiasco is disrespectful to the history of Australian cricket, and shows contempt for the Australian public. Let's hope they realise this and it is a short-lived delusion.

Posted by RoJayao on (January 20, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

Auditions will continue, they have to! Thank goodness the shield is about to start again I say. Guys need to make big runs and pull the finger out. David Hussey has been a big disappointment with some woeful footwork. He's better than he's shown but looks terribly out of form. Maxwell just isn't ready. One thing though, as weak as Australia have been this series, anyone who thinks Jimmy Anderson will swing the ball as far and as late as Kulasekara has the last couple of games is delusional, Duke ball or no Duke ball! So yeah, cue RednWhiteArmy, he'll believe it, along with Bigfoot, 8 minute abs and the Easter bunny! Say hi to the men in white coats Red!!

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (January 20, 2013, 11:39 GMT)

Lack of mental toughness to get through difficult patches? That's exactly what Warner was doing, till that absurd umpiring decision. It's easy to bash Australia, but they have posted the two highest totals of the series. SL have been very lucky to have been spared batting first the last three games, and it is beyond me why Australia didn't bowl first at the SL batsmen who are notoriously inept against decent pace and seam. This series would have panned out very differently if SL had been exposed to batting first three times in succession when there was a lot of movement around. Some really strange decisions being made here by the AUS management, incl. rotation fiasco. It's as if they just don't care about winning games in this series at all.

Posted by Mary_786 on (January 20, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

I was at the Churchill Stand where below me the SCG crowd broke the WACA's 5 year old beer snake world record. The snake ran the length of the Trumper stand.James Sutherland was a few rows behind me laughing. Fantastic stuff. Brettig has summed it up well, guys such as Bailey and David H have failed misreably against the swining ball reaffirming for me that Khawaja has to be the man to take Mike Hussey's spot in the coming Indian series and the ashes. Second best in shield and averaging 40 with 450 runs in shield where most of his runs came on tough bowler friendly decks(tougher then what we saw in the last few games) Khawaja would have been invaluable today and its time to give him a fair run at the position.Brettig has summed up David Hussey and Maxwell's failures against the swinging ball very well and i think its time to take action.

Posted by hycIass on (January 20, 2013, 10:57 GMT)

How can the game be called off, there are no puddles and hasn't rained for 45 minutes so get on with it and have a result. It seems the people in charge have forgotten that cricket is in the entertainment business…. There's a lot of talk about how cricket faces a struggle to stay relevant in modern times and this is an example of why. The sport really doesn't help itself at times. Today was not the first time we had a top order collapse, similar collapse happened in South Africa last year, and once again on day 2 of the Perth test against them. Yesterday continued the trend where our batsman couldn't handle the moving ball. I don't understand why Khawaja (one of he most technically gifted batsman in the counttry) continues to be left out of this squad at the expense of the likes of Maxwell and Bailey. Also if they don't take Luke Pomersback for the T20 then there is something seriously wrong.

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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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