Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd T20, Melbourne

Ugly finish just 'heat of the moment'

Brydon Coverdale at the MCG

January 28, 2013

Comments: 132 | Text size: A | A

Sri Lanka celebrated passionately after clinching a last-ball win against Australia, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd T20, Melbourne, January 28, 2013
The Sri Lankans were jubilant after their final-ball win and made their feelings known to Glenn Maxwell © Getty Images
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The Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and his Australia counterpart George Bailey have played down the ugly scenes at the end of the second Twenty20 as "heat-of-the-moment stuff" and declared there was no lingering ill-feeling after the match. Sri Lanka's near two-month tour of Australia ended with a last-ball victory in the Melbourne match but the battle did not appear to end there as players heatedly exchanged words on the field after the game.

The problems appeared to begin when a large group of Sri Lanka players gathered for a conference before the final ball of the match, when Glenn Maxwell needed four off Thisara Perera to steal an Australian victory. The debate amongst the Sri Lankans dragged on and Maxwell, left standing at the crease and waiting, told the Sri Lankans to get on with it, to which Mahela Jayawardene responded in kind.

After Maxwell failed to make contact with the last ball, Perera taunted the batsman and Maxwell was clearly making his opinion known while shaking hands with the Sri Lankans. The ill-feeling continued when Matthew Wade engaged in some verbals with Jayawardene and Perera while the handshakes took place, and Bailey had to encourage his men to put it all behind them.

"It was just the heat of the moment," Mathews said after the match. "Things happen. You exchange a few words. They play it hard. We play it hard. So that's it. After the game you're friends."

Bailey said he was unsure of the source of the trouble because he was not on the field at the time, but he agreed with Mathews that it was part and parcel of such a tight finish.

"Passion mate. People care about the game and care about the way they play," Bailey said. "I know we get along very well with this side. Even just the chats there coming off, I think it's all just heat-of-the-moment stuff. But I think what you're seeing is individuals and teams that are pretty keen to win."

After the match, Maxwell tweeted: "Absolutely shattered... I went into the Sri Lankan rooms after and they apologised for going over the top. All good." In a second tweet, he said: "Just to clarify... I apologized to Mahela and SL players as well. I have a good friendship with Mahela, and it's gonna stay that way!"

The Sri Lankans were relieved to come away with a victory after a 45-minute rain delay resulted in an adjusted Duckworth-Lewis target that appeared to favour Australia. At the start of the break, Australia needed another 102 from the remaining 10 overs with eight wickets in hand, but the revised target left them requiring 62 from five overs, which with so many wickets in hand allowed them to swing hard and take risks.

The rain had lasted only a few minutes but the delay dragged on and on as the groundstaff struggled to mop up the water from the outfield, a similar situation to the one the teams faced during the abandoned ODI in Sydney last week. The TV commentators were agitated for a quick resumption and the umpires took a cautious approach, and Mathews said despite the wet outfield he was glad play was able to restart for the sake of the 39,427 spectators.

"The outfield was extremely wet," Mathews said. "The bowlers were finding it really hard to grip the ball because it was slipping. But we wanted to get out there on the field because we couldn't disappoint the crowd which turned up in large numbers. Especially playing in Melbourne, it's like playing at home because it's the second-largest Sri Lankan community after Sri Lanka. It was very demanding conditions but we wanted to get out there and get a game for the crowd."

Bailey conceded that the revised target probably favoured his team, but he said it was not an unreasonable compromise given the state of the game when the rain came.

"I've got no idea how Duckworth-Lewis works," Bailey said. "I think generally it does suit the team batting second, just because you know exactly what you have to do. When they're shortening the target and the overs you've still got your wickets in hand. There is a slight advantage there. But I think 62 off five [overs] was a pretty fair summation of where that game was at."

Bailey nearly got the Australians home, striking 45 from 36 balls, but when he fell in the final over it left 16 needed from the last four balls. A waist-high full toss from Perera was a bonus for Australia, and Mathews said during the conference before the last ball there were numerous voices trying to tell Perera what to do, but in the end the captain trusted the bowler to come up with his own plan.

"It was a bit nervous. All the guys got a bit excited and I just wanted to keep it calm," Mathews said. "I told Thisara to go for what his instincts said, because he's the bowler. I thought he bowled a brilliant over considering the fact that it was demanding conditions as well. You couldn't really hold on to the ball because it wasn't gripping. It was wet, the outfield was wet. It was not easy but I thought he bowled a brilliant over."

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

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Posted by ami77 on (January 30, 2013, 9:54 GMT)

I can understand Maxwells behavior being in the middle. However how can you justify Warner and Wade's actions while shaking hands. Can't they learn from other teams. SL team is the one that I have seen using the least words in the field with opponents. Even their fastest and best bowlers keep their smile in their face all the time and never seen sledging as Ausies do. Still Ausie players don't seem to learn the gentleman's game of cricket. That's why most fans love to see Ausies get beaten. Otherwise Australian players have got a lot of talent and world would love to see them playing except the their sledging which has become part of their game.

Posted by   on (January 29, 2013, 19:24 GMT)

Why is so much of the ugly behaviour in cricket put down to 'passion'? The word 'passion' is used like a mantra to seek to excuse all sorts of disgraceful behaviour. It's not passion; it's just cricketers being yobs.

Posted by JamesSmithee on (January 29, 2013, 17:27 GMT)

Maxwell, Mahela, Perera, Mathews were in the ground. It is acceptable their behaviors. But reactions from Wade and Warner were not appropriate.

Posted by Ajithd on (January 29, 2013, 16:07 GMT)

I cannot understand why Thisara bowled outside the off stump without having a deep point fielder. If he connected the last ball SL would have gone.

Posted by getsetgopk on (January 29, 2013, 14:40 GMT)

The aussies crossed the line, not the first though, since when did a batsman called the bowling side to get on with it? If there is the issue of slow over rate then what are the umpires and match referee for? Absolutely distasteful to say the least but glad the lankans stuck it back into the aussies a bit. well played Lankans!

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (January 29, 2013, 13:39 GMT)

International men's cricket with bowlers putting 150km/h bouncers around your ears has never been for namby-pambies. Unsurprising that things can become overheated at times, but as long as apologies are made when things cool down (as SL and Aus players have) it is all in the best traditions of the men's game. What makes me a little nauseous is the faux outrage and faux shock from those who seem to be living in fairytale land.

Posted by vimukthirananjayaya on (January 29, 2013, 13:15 GMT)

we are talking of cricket at highest level. players who reach it loves and lives in the game.it is passion.But what is this .in australia they expect to sledge every one and to be the heroes.at that moment sri lanka were well within their time limit to ball there 15 overs.and they could have used about another 15 minutes of discussion if wanted. but it was only about 2 minutes of discussion which got maxwell exited and had a kind word at sri lankans.mahela was well within his right to reply the way he did.And i think perera reply after the final ball was the best reward they got for there efforts from about one and half decades.all that could be explained as heat of the moment.but what do you call the speeches of warner and wade when shaking hands. i think it is the disgusting nature of SOME australians who even make their world class team look like a set of bandits playing cricket.

Posted by sonu77 on (January 29, 2013, 13:12 GMT)

@VivGilchrist, how can we chase 220+ when your team got all out for 74. lol

Posted by wallyofsydney on (January 29, 2013, 12:52 GMT)

Despite being Australian and loving cricket, I am not a fan of our team. For many years, we have seen players taunt and abuse opponents when winning comfortably (Glen McGrath and Shane Warne, for example). It's never sat well with me. Now the opponents are less willing to accept it and it amused me to see the likes of Ponting get upset when people got in his face. I think for too long we were the schoolyard bullies and now the other kids are fighting back.

Posted by ham1990 on (January 29, 2013, 11:31 GMT)

@TheBigBoodha, you can't seriously compare Warnie's antics with Mahela throwing an expletive version of 'go mind your own business' at Maxwell. That was that, end of story. Perera didn't act in the best way, so I agree with you there. However after Maxwell was on his haunches reflecting missing that last one, he goes to shake hands with opposition players and Mahela did nothing but that and Maxwell starts arguing about goodness knows what. I'm not sure if I was watching the same game, because to back that up Wade and Warner come out and stick their beaks into it. It's completely unwarranted. These guys are relatively new on the scene and I agree with @Dannymania in saying that they should give more respect to Mahela. He didn't offer any personal gibes to anyone before that. If someone gets in Mahela's face he will have no problems in giving it back to them.

At the end of the day tempers flared and players are friends off the field.

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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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