Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd ODI, Hambantota August 17, 2011

Clarke critical of Australian top order

ESPNcricinfo staff

Australia captain Michael Clarke pointed to the failure of his top-order batsmen to set a platform as the primary reason for a heavy loss to Sri Lanka in the third ODI match in Hambantota.

The tourists fell 78 runs short of Sri Lanka's 286 for 9 and the slinging paceman Lasith Malinga took much of the credit after claiming 5 for 28.

But also significant was the contribution of the debutant Shaminda Eranga, who nipped out Brad Haddin and Ricky Ponting in his opening spell to leave the Australians at 52 for 3 in the chase. Clarke clearly needed, and expected, a better start from his top three batsmen.

"We didn't perform well enough at the top of the order," Clarke said. "We have no excuses. We didn't perform as well as we would like and we know that.

"We have some work to do over the next few days because, as I said from the start, playing Sri Lanka, especially in their home conditions, you have to be at your best to beat them."

Haddin's dismissal was perhaps the most noteworthy, as Australia's wicketkeeper once again left a yawning gap between bat and pad to be bowled by a delivery that seamed back at him.

It is a manner of dimissal that had already happened once on this tour - against Ajantha Mendis in the first Twenty20 - and the Sri Lankans will continue to pursue that line through the remainder of the ODIs and then the Tests.

Australia have not selected a reserve keeper for this tour, which may become a sore point if Haddin's run-scoring continues to dip.

The Sri Lankans, meanwhile, felt restored after recovering from a pair of hidings in the first two matches. The relief of their captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan, was obvious.

"The first 10 overs were crucial, and we did well to see them off," Dilshan said. "All the batsmen that followed did well. We believed 260 was good to defend, and we proved it. [Shaminda] Eranga bowled really well, and Malinga was good as usual."

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  • Hector on August 18, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    @VivGilchrist...Couldn't agree more. Wade is miles ahead of Haddin. As a matter of fact Wade is now the best keeper in Australia. Haddin is the worst of the State keepers...Okay Haddin fans...tell me one State Keeper he is better than...Yep..You can't. ....And Wade is a better Batsman than Haddin. It ain't rocket science. How much longer do we have to put up with Mr MYKI....Passenger Smith????? We need McDonald or Christian for him.....or O'Keefe. Finch is also required in place of D Hussey.

  • Basil on August 18, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    I would have thought the best way for Aus to make there transition would have been via ODIs. Fergusson in for D.Hussey and Wade in for Haddin , Finch for Ponting would have been a start. Ponting and Haddin could still play in Tests. Instead we have a team of which at least 5 out of 11 will be retired by the next World Cup. I don't understand what the selectors are doing. For an outsider it looks like a boys club.

  • Christopher on August 18, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    In defence of Smith,as modest as his 1st class bowling appears,it is comparable to both Doherty and Krezja,who have been in the Australian team on their bowling alone.If i suggested that those spinners suddenly develop their fielding and batting to Smiths level,then everyone would be excited.Of the spinners,only Hauritz and O'Keefe in Australian 1st class cricket can genuinely hold their place as bowlers.At 22,if one was to consider Smith a spin bowling project who brings excellent fielding and very useful batting to the table,then im sure everyone would feel more relaxed about his place.Hauritz took time to develop and then arrived with a rush.Australian great,Benaud was exactly the same.In his short career,i think he has done enough to be perservered with and to suggest that he has the core elements of an excellent future player.Players like Hayden,Langer,Steve Waugh and Hauritz needed these opportunities.Hes only 22.Id like to see faith shown in him,despite his unusual style.

  • Aidan on August 18, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Haddin needs to make runs- has been unconvincing for a while. Although he has improved his Keeping skills - he is so far from the talent of Payne he is lucky to be in the side given his age. Payne is also a talented batsman. Haddin needs to make rusn - sometimes Watson will fail.

  • Christopher on August 17, 2011, 23:17 GMT

    SL did an outstanding job.Cricket,like life,isnt always neat.78 runs is a huge win in a 50 over game and attempts to mitigate that win will appear as poor sportsmanship.With respect to the australian side,Paine is not the man to replace Haddin.His career batting record is modest and strike rate far too slow.Stating that it will improve isnt enough.It hasnt.D.Husseys strong suit is long,fast scoring innings at a high average in 4 day cricket.Despite a superb record,he has been ignored for tests.On every occasion that he comes to the crease,scoring fast rates ahead of survival.As was shown in the T20I against Mendis,its hard to do that against SL spinners on their home pitches.Hussey flew straight from county cricket to this.I believe his record deserves the opportunity to build innings,before judgement is passed.Open with him instead of Haddin.Picking Marsh would cloud the issue.IPL form is irrelevent and his Shield form is very modest.Even the maligned Smith has a far better record.

  • Dummy4 on August 17, 2011, 19:38 GMT

    Well played SL. Great way to even up the series. Should be a cracker in the final 3 matches. SL have a very strong ODI team. From an Aussie fan.

  • django on August 17, 2011, 16:44 GMT

    Eranga will need to watch his action, it looks very ragged. No doubt others will be noticing aswell. We were outplayed by SL this time. They bowled/batted better than us simple as that. Tharanga could have been out 5 times early in his innings but he had some luck which is how it goes sometimes. Haddin gets bowled at least every 3rd innings it seems. This has been happening since he first started playing. He doesnt value his wicket and does not come forward so nothing new. At least the games are getting closer.

  • Dummy4 on August 17, 2011, 16:15 GMT

    Tim Paine should replace Brad Haddin. And what about the Dan Christian???? He is much better than Steven Smith. Aussie should look positive & aggressive in this situation also.

  • Anjana on August 17, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    Much needed win for Sri Lanka. Anyway Aussies may come back strongly and SL need to be well prepared for that. With lots of catches being dropped, SL fielding was way below par and has to be much improved. Randiv must replace Jeevan Mendis. Best of luck for both teams. A nice competition on the cards!

  • nalin on August 17, 2011, 15:03 GMT

    This is the contest between the top 2 ODI sides. Consistency of the sides are ridiculous out of last 8 ODIs involving SL played only one close match.The only thing consistent are the umpires and the high standard of fielding and the poor form of the middle order of both sides.I feel Randiv is a better choice than Jeevan Mendis and I have question marks about Chamara but i feel Chandimal has potential but has to watch for the ball outside off. I believe this is Australia""s best attack available and superior to the selected test side.Eranga should be retained for ODI and tests and he appears the best pace prospect for SL since arrival of Malinga.

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