Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle August 30, 2011

Australia face five-day spin challenge

68

Match facts

August 31-September 4, Galle
Start time 10:00 (04:30 GMT, 14:30 EST)

Big Picture

And so, the real challenge begins. Sri Lanka have won the Twenty20s and Australia took the ODI series, but those results will be quickly forgotten when this three-Test battle begins. In the one-day format, it was a meeting of the top two teams in the world, according to the ICC's rankings, but in the Tests it is No. 4 v No. 5, and neither team is content to sit in the middle of the pack. There are major personnel changes in both camps from the short format to the five-day game, and yet some lessons learnt over the past couple of weeks could have significance in the Tests.

Importantly, the Australians have now had a good look at Ajantha Mendis, whose mysteries they slowly began to understand over the course of the series. By the end of the ODIs, Australia's batsmen had worked out ways to cope with him, even if not all were reading his variations. However, handling Mendis over five days is a different proposition, especially on a pitch expected to turn from the first day. Watching the ball out of his hand and carefully trying to detect his subtle changes, over and over again, for every delivery in a long spell, requires supreme concentration. The Australians will find it draining. Even under normal circumstances, they can struggle against quality spin, and there will be times over the course of this match when they'll face tweakers from both ends with men around the bat. Michael Clarke doesn't mind using his feet, but how his colleagues handle the pressure will be key to Australia's chances.

The one-day series also revealed a significant difference in the captaincy of the two sides. Clarke has been Australia's full-time leader for less than six months, but already he has shown himself to be an intuitive, adventurous and aggressive captain, and it's impossible to quantify what effect that will have on Australia's performance over the coming months. By comparison, Tillakaratne Dilshan was at times slow to react to the changing game, and seemed to lack the natural leadership of Clarke. Dilshan is also relatively new to the role and if he leads from the front with a pile of runs, he'll have done his job, but it's hard to avoid the feeling that Sri Lankan would have been a more formidable foe under Kumar Sangakkara.

But the cold, hard facts are that both teams have struggled in Test cricket over the past couple of years. Back in 2008, Australia started the year as the top-ranked Test team in the world, on 141 points, while Sri Lanka were third on 109. Not much has changed for Sri Lanka, who are now fourth on 108. But Australia have plummeted to fifth, on 100 points.

Sri Lanka have won only one of their past 12 Tests, while Australia have won one of their past eight, and this is their first Test series since the disastrous Ashes campaign at home that led to the Argus review. Given that the Australians haven't played a Test in Sri Lanka in seven years, the hosts, with their spin-heavy attack on dry pitches, deserve to go into the series as slight favourites.

Form guide

(Most recent first)
Sri Lanka DDLDD
Australia LLWLD

In the spotlight

Sri Lanka's middle order was a major concern in the one-day series, but Australia will find it much tougher to get through a Test line-up featuring Thilan Samaraweera. Just getting rid of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene doesn't mean the hard work is done. The obdurate Samaraweera will add some starch to Sri Lanka's batting order, although despite his reputation and experience, he hasn't brought out his best against Australia in the past. He's played five Tests against them but averages only 31.22 with a top score of 70. But in Sri Lankan conditions, where he averages 76.12 over the past four years, the Australians will underestimate him at their peril.

Australia will have two bowling debutants in Trent Copeland and Nathan Lyon, plus a fresh face in Usman Khawaja at No. 6, and they are entering the era of a new opening pair, but despite those sub-plots the focus will really be on Michael Clarke in his first Test series as captain. Clarke has impressed with his thoughtful leadership in the one-day team since taking over from Ricky Ponting, but it's not his management that's the issue. Clarke needs Test runs. He had a miserable Ashes campaign and in his past nine Tests he has averaged 21.58 without scoring a century. A strong series with the bat would ease the pressure on him. On the plus side he is a fine player of spin, which will help him in the Sri Lankan conditions, and he is coming off a century in the tour game.

Team news

Sri Lanka cut Seekuge Prasanna, Shaminda Eranga and Dhammika Prasad from the original 16-man squad on match eve. Lahiru Thirimanne's century in the tour match against the Australians might interest the selectors, while the other batting changes from the one-day team are the additions of Samaraweera and the wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene to the middle order. The big question is how many spinners to play. Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath should have the front-running. But do they play an extra spinner and rely on Angelo Mathews as the second seamer? One man who won't be in the Sri Lankan XI is Lasith Malinga, who has ruled out a return to Test cricket despite the numerous entreaties he has received from the board and its selectors. Malinga's knees have not improved in their condition since he announced his retirement from Tests in mid-year, and he would only consider a return in the highly unlikely event of visible improvement.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 2 Tharanga Paranavitana / Lahiru Thirimanne, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Suranga Lakmal, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Chanaka Welegedara.

Given how their fast bowlers performed in the tour match, Australia will stick with one spinner - the debutant Nathan Lyon. The New South Wales seamer Trent Copeland, deservedly, will make his Test debut as well, forming a three-man pace attack with Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris. The other major selection debate has been regarding who would man the No. 6 spot. Usman Khawaja's hundred in the tour match has secured him the place ahead of Shaun Marsh. It is also the first Test in the post-Simon Katich era, so Phillip Hughes will be keen to justify his selection.

Australia: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Phillip Hughes, 3 Ricky Ponting, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Usman Khawaja, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Ryan Harris, 10 Trent Copeland, 11 Nathan Lyon.

Pitch and conditions


The absence of any great pace threat means the Galle pitch is likely to take spin from the start, a state of affairs confirmed by the Australians' first visit to the ground on Monday. They were able to digest the sight of a bone-dry surface with very little grass coverage, and those attributes will only be heightened as the Test goes on.

Stats and trivia

  • The last time Ricky Ponting played a Test series not as captain - against India in 2003-04 - he made two double-centuries and averaged 100.85
  • Ponting is the only member of Australia's squad to have played a Test in Sri Lanka, while five of Sri Lanka's players remain from the most recent tour in 2004
  • Kumar Sangakkara needs 113 runs to move into 15th place on the list of all-time leading Test run scorers. As it stands, he's the only man in the top 20 to have played less than 100 Tests

Quotes

"Things have changed since our disappointing Ashes series. For anyone who played last summer that's still in our minds. But the reality is we've wiped the slate clean to some extent"
Michael Clarke

"It's totally different to one dayers when it comes to the Test cricket and a different team. We have a very solid batting line-up, in the last three or four years, No. 1 to No. 6 we've batted really well. I have confidence with my batting line-up"
Tillakaratne Dilshan

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hyclass on September 1, 2011, 0:25 GMT

    @Sawifan...Lyon is the only paper/rock/scissors,that i have suggested. While im not implying for a moment that youre incorrect in your summation of the team,the preceding articles make it clear that Clarke,Nielsen and Chappell were not so definite in their views and that,even after the Board XI match,there was indecision over the inclusion of Marsh and/or a second spinner.It was mitigated by the article in which Clarke discusses the use and resting of Watson,suggesting he clearly had Watson in mind to do more than his usual share of bowling.It creates the possibility that he wanted two spinners and is now taking on the second spinner role in the knowledge that his back may give out.There is no question in my mind,that Beer,as the incumbent spinner,should have been persisted with.He wasnt outbowled in the tour game,showed better control,an advantage on a wicket where making the batsmen play is ideal,and he has proven 5 day fitness,which cannot be said of the 5 game debutant Lyon.

  • MENDIS_Forever on August 31, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas: a nice comment from u.I pray for them too.

  • on August 31, 2011, 3:35 GMT

    What happen to Nuwan Pradeep??? I do not see this pace attack from SL troubling the Aussie batsmen. You need at least a couple of wickets at the top to bring on the spinners and create pressure. Even prasad or Thushara are better options than 2 inexperienced quicks.

  • crosby8 on August 31, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    In a series where both batting lineups effectively cancel each other out, Australia's pace attack to get the job done. Harris, when fit, is one of the few bowlers in world cricket to have caused problems for the imposing English batting line up. Johnson can turn a game on its head at any moment, he's a match winner. Copeland has had the outstanding first class results over the last few years to suggest he'll be a capable test bowler. The unknown is Lyon but he should be able to match it with the Sri Lankan spinners with the exception of Mendis and Eranga, who wasn't selected anyway.

  • sawifan on August 31, 2011, 1:35 GMT

    @hyclass. The only paper/ scissors/ rock decision was Lyon really, and it was more like flip of a coin. Obviously O'Keefe should be there, but he's not, so that had to pick 1, and they are both very even. The rest of the team is spot on in regards to the squad picked. They have picked the best 10 (plus Lyon) that was on tour, and close to the best team currently available in Oz cricket. @Aussasinator... 'Oz can't play leg spin to save their lives'?!? Really? I forgot there has been a plethora of leg-spinners running around destroying Aussie batting line-up. What leg-spinners are you talking of again? I can only think of Kumble who has dominated batsmen in the past 10 or so years apart from Warne. So that comment is ridiculous!

  • on August 31, 2011, 1:23 GMT

    i would have included Eranga to my final eleven instead of Suranga lakmal...yes he did bowl well in england....But Eranga was in good touch in local conditions.

  • wandrew on August 31, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    I hope this is going to be a great contest, not a one sided affair as some people predict. Both sides have great batsmen to score heavily. Alustralia is counting on their fast bowlers to get the wickets while Sri Lanka's main strength is their spin attack. The toss is going to be very important as the side batting first will have a definite advantage. I am predicting centuries from Ponting and Clarke from Australian side and also Jayawardane and Samaraweera from Sri Lankan side. A draw is unlikely and the side batting first will win the match.

  • on August 31, 2011, 0:25 GMT

    I think the selectors have forgotten Watson can bowl as well so technically Aussie has four quicks an a sole spinner on debut (not good).

  • Willow25 on August 31, 2011, 0:13 GMT

    I have no idea what everyone is on about, this will be so one sided in favour of the aussies that the tests will barely go into day 4. Sri Lanka are so over confident they will create these "spinning" wickets, but what will happen is it will suit our quicks like it did in the One Dayers. Sri Lanka are a one trick pony and if they think that average spinners will trouble us then they are mistaken, this will be a good warm up for the Aussies tour of SA. Aussies 3-0 barely breaking a sweat.

  • hyclass on August 31, 2011, 0:00 GMT

    I see Chappell finally got his young,statistically undeserving Lyon in the side. Nice to see another player without any supporting record being chosen,while other far more deserving players are banished to domestic crciket,where they belong. I wonder if Lyons loops on the way to the great SL,spin playing batsmen will be half as entertaining as the loop from the batsmen,to and over the boundary rope.

  • hyclass on September 1, 2011, 0:25 GMT

    @Sawifan...Lyon is the only paper/rock/scissors,that i have suggested. While im not implying for a moment that youre incorrect in your summation of the team,the preceding articles make it clear that Clarke,Nielsen and Chappell were not so definite in their views and that,even after the Board XI match,there was indecision over the inclusion of Marsh and/or a second spinner.It was mitigated by the article in which Clarke discusses the use and resting of Watson,suggesting he clearly had Watson in mind to do more than his usual share of bowling.It creates the possibility that he wanted two spinners and is now taking on the second spinner role in the knowledge that his back may give out.There is no question in my mind,that Beer,as the incumbent spinner,should have been persisted with.He wasnt outbowled in the tour game,showed better control,an advantage on a wicket where making the batsmen play is ideal,and he has proven 5 day fitness,which cannot be said of the 5 game debutant Lyon.

  • MENDIS_Forever on August 31, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas: a nice comment from u.I pray for them too.

  • on August 31, 2011, 3:35 GMT

    What happen to Nuwan Pradeep??? I do not see this pace attack from SL troubling the Aussie batsmen. You need at least a couple of wickets at the top to bring on the spinners and create pressure. Even prasad or Thushara are better options than 2 inexperienced quicks.

  • crosby8 on August 31, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    In a series where both batting lineups effectively cancel each other out, Australia's pace attack to get the job done. Harris, when fit, is one of the few bowlers in world cricket to have caused problems for the imposing English batting line up. Johnson can turn a game on its head at any moment, he's a match winner. Copeland has had the outstanding first class results over the last few years to suggest he'll be a capable test bowler. The unknown is Lyon but he should be able to match it with the Sri Lankan spinners with the exception of Mendis and Eranga, who wasn't selected anyway.

  • sawifan on August 31, 2011, 1:35 GMT

    @hyclass. The only paper/ scissors/ rock decision was Lyon really, and it was more like flip of a coin. Obviously O'Keefe should be there, but he's not, so that had to pick 1, and they are both very even. The rest of the team is spot on in regards to the squad picked. They have picked the best 10 (plus Lyon) that was on tour, and close to the best team currently available in Oz cricket. @Aussasinator... 'Oz can't play leg spin to save their lives'?!? Really? I forgot there has been a plethora of leg-spinners running around destroying Aussie batting line-up. What leg-spinners are you talking of again? I can only think of Kumble who has dominated batsmen in the past 10 or so years apart from Warne. So that comment is ridiculous!

  • on August 31, 2011, 1:23 GMT

    i would have included Eranga to my final eleven instead of Suranga lakmal...yes he did bowl well in england....But Eranga was in good touch in local conditions.

  • wandrew on August 31, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    I hope this is going to be a great contest, not a one sided affair as some people predict. Both sides have great batsmen to score heavily. Alustralia is counting on their fast bowlers to get the wickets while Sri Lanka's main strength is their spin attack. The toss is going to be very important as the side batting first will have a definite advantage. I am predicting centuries from Ponting and Clarke from Australian side and also Jayawardane and Samaraweera from Sri Lankan side. A draw is unlikely and the side batting first will win the match.

  • on August 31, 2011, 0:25 GMT

    I think the selectors have forgotten Watson can bowl as well so technically Aussie has four quicks an a sole spinner on debut (not good).

  • Willow25 on August 31, 2011, 0:13 GMT

    I have no idea what everyone is on about, this will be so one sided in favour of the aussies that the tests will barely go into day 4. Sri Lanka are so over confident they will create these "spinning" wickets, but what will happen is it will suit our quicks like it did in the One Dayers. Sri Lanka are a one trick pony and if they think that average spinners will trouble us then they are mistaken, this will be a good warm up for the Aussies tour of SA. Aussies 3-0 barely breaking a sweat.

  • hyclass on August 31, 2011, 0:00 GMT

    I see Chappell finally got his young,statistically undeserving Lyon in the side. Nice to see another player without any supporting record being chosen,while other far more deserving players are banished to domestic crciket,where they belong. I wonder if Lyons loops on the way to the great SL,spin playing batsmen will be half as entertaining as the loop from the batsmen,to and over the boundary rope.

  • hyclass on August 30, 2011, 23:55 GMT

    Thank God for paper,rock,scissors! Otherwise,how would selectors ever decide on teams?

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 30, 2011, 22:14 GMT

    What a cracker of a contest this should be between Sanga, Mahela and Ponting on these challenging tracks. It's about time Ponting gets his due respect and people stop saying him that he can't play on subcontinent's challenging tracks. Probably the last time we will see all these three Legends together on the field. I think test cricket is becoming more and more painful for me with each passing day as all these Legends are getting that much closer to the end of their careers. Hope they make enough runs and challenge each other. All the best to Sanga, Ponting and Mahela. I hope and pray all of them get double centuries. I especially want Ponting to score really big, just to prove his naysayers wrong.

  • landl47 on August 30, 2011, 19:40 GMT

    Good to see Australia taking a chance on Copeland and Khawaja. Lyon? Who knows. SL are a good batting side but their ability to get 20 wickets is an issue. Should be a close game.

  • on August 30, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    @ nathan_123

    r u serious man.. aussies 2-0....... do u really think that the bowling attack of australia can take 20 wickets.. man u r a great optimist person.. u shud work for ICC.. :P lol.. aussies playing with a debutant spinner and fast bowler.. ryan harris has never played test matches in sub continent and they are facing the likes of mahela, sangakara, samarweera and dilshan.... haha @ ur 2-0 prediction..

  • Felix1025 on August 30, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    Eranga has to play..it's a mistake to omit him. Spinners..a tough choice. Out of , randeew and mendis..? Herath may have some advantage in Galle. Prasanna S. can sit out for this game. Angelo must bowl the minimum overs, but should bat at 6. Prasanna J like before (England tour) must bat at 7.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 30, 2011, 17:11 GMT

    SL at home are strong. Hopefully, Australia can put up a good show. They still have some good middle order players in Ponting and Hussey. Khawaja is a promising talent. At the same time, SL's bowling looks limp without Malinga and Murali. So even they will struggle to bowl out Australia twice consistently. Looks like a batting series to me.

  • Aussasinator on August 30, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    Herath has to play for Lanka. The Oz cant play leg spin to save their lives.

  • AJ_Tiger86 on August 30, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    @5wombats: Yeah, it's shaping up to be a run fest, unfortunately. Two poor bowling attacks, two relatively strong batting lineups, and nonresponsive pitches -- these are not the makings of exciting test match cricket. I, for one, hope Sri Lanka produce a dust bowl -- they won't get a better chance to thrash Australia.

  • Nathan_123 on August 30, 2011, 16:49 GMT

    Unfortunately it's going to be a one sided affair. Srilanka may play well in few isolated sessions in the game, but Aussies superior pace attack will over power the Srilankans. In order to win test matches you need to take 20 wickets. Does any one think this Srilankan attack can take 20 wickets? Bring back Murali! I am predicting 2-0 Aussies.

  • 5wombats on August 30, 2011, 15:27 GMT

    Hey @Sir_Freddie ! This is looking like a draw to me. SL have home advantage, so if you have to pick anyone it would be them. Should be a run fest - normally is in SL.

  • Winsome on August 30, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    Oh, I misread the Clarke quote. Praise be, I thought he'd lost the plot completely. Not sure what he means by the slate being wiped clean though. What does that mean? They haven't played any test cricket since the hiding in the Ashes.

  • Fluffykins on August 30, 2011, 14:36 GMT

    Hope Sri Lanka win this series having played against both countries recently , I was much more impressed with them, Australia was really rather wearing at times with that dross johnson kept bowling.

  • rishi-bro on August 30, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    @shekhar.sbpl he retired from test cricket

  • on August 30, 2011, 13:24 GMT

    Ponting is not finished he is still Australias best bat and his fielding is still very good. if Sri Lanka could get Ricky out they have a chance.

  • Winsome on August 30, 2011, 13:12 GMT

    Blimey there isn't a single reason that I can think of why Clarke would say that his batsmen have done well recently. I would have thought it's perfectly obvious that they haven't - minus Watto and Kat. You only need to look at their stats last year to see that. I see that the usual spin hasn't stopped.

  • AJ_Tiger86 on August 30, 2011, 12:59 GMT

    I hope Sri Lanka wins the series 3-0. It's a matter of whether they will be able to take 20 wickets or not, becasue Australia simply don't have the bowling to bowl Sri Lanka out twice.

  • VivGilchrist on August 30, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    After looking at there records, I cant believe Prassana and OKeefe haven't played Test cricket yet. I thought only Australia and WI had deranged selection panels.... Add SL to that list.

  • tjsimonsen on August 30, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    It could (will hopefully) be an interesting series. But I don't see this SL attack can bowl out the Aussies twice. But I don't see the Aussie attack bowl out SL in home conditions either. Draw or one-nil either way. Nevertheless, it's two teams which are both in a re-building process and the series will give a good indication of how it is going.

  • shekhar.sbpl on August 30, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    what about Malinga, why he is not in the squad ?

  • bumsonseats on August 30, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    you always wonder when a team names a 16 pool of players. australia during the ashes named similar squad sizes. if they do not know their starting eleven which as a home team is a surprise. it will be tight if aussies win the tosses they could win 1 - 0 and 2 draws but if they dont i think they may struggle when SL bat 1st. dpk

  • on August 30, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    Notwithstanding the fact that over half the players on show wouldn't even be able to get into England's Fourth XI, it should be an enthralling series in its own way: Sri Lanka's popgun attack vs Australia's Dads' Army batting line-up reeling drunkenly in The Last Chance Saloon; & Australia's Second XI spinners (where are Hauritz & O'Keefe?) vs Sri Lanka's own Dads' Army platoon of flat track bullies. Let's hope Australia's pace attack - who are a far more potent force than they appeared to be during The Ashes - win the day; & let's hope that Khawaja, Hughes & Copeland begin to fulfil their immense potential.

  • shekhar.sbpl on August 30, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    Please tell me whether it will be rain in whole 5 days.......

  • zingzangspillip on August 30, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    Siddle definitely deserves a place ahead of Johnson.

  • Sachit1979 on August 30, 2011, 10:17 GMT

    In playing 11, Suraj Randiv would be better option then second seamer Welegedra. Moreover I would have preferred Prasanna over Mendis. Paranavitana should get an edge over Thirimanne even though Thirimanne scored a century in the tour game.

  • Lakpj on August 30, 2011, 9:50 GMT

    Where is Randhiv, what has he done wrong? Picking up 5 wickets in the final ODI game against England. He was not to be seen after that game. Mendis isn't going to work in tests. His variations are predictable and in test matches batsman can wait and play safe unlike in limited over games where they have to attack him.

  • on August 30, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    SL made a BIG MISTAKE leaving out Seekuge Prassana, he is a more dangerous bowler then Herath.

  • crickstats on August 30, 2011, 9:22 GMT

    Sri Lanka should have gone in with Prasanna, than Mendis

  • Mutukisna on August 30, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    Even as a Sri Lankan Fan I find it difficult to envisage this SL bowling side taking 20 wickets in a test match following the retirements of Muralitharan and Malinga. Having watched Seekuge Prasanna bowl in the one-dayers I thought SL's chances of bowling out the Aussies twice would improve considerably if Prasanna was included in the Test Eleven. Alas, it appears that this is not going to be the case for the First Test. I hope SL take a bold stand and select him for the Second and Third Tests.

  • LancashireHero on August 30, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    I hope the pitch does spin and the match is not a boring run-fest that usually seems to happen in Sri Lanka.

  • Lord.emsworth on August 30, 2011, 9:16 GMT

    Pretty much the same old SL team. Herath has a lot of heart but he is not going to do wonders. Ajantha Mendis has been unravelled by most and Randiv who also bats well is overlooked. That Seekuge Prassana guy seems a better prospect than Mendis or Herath. Welegedera plugs away but hardly make any real breakthroughs. Lakmal?....maybe... Best choices Chaminda Vaas and Malinga are absent. Vaas due to a schism with the SL board and the former SL captain, and Malinga...Well we all know about Malinga.

  • ikmal--syd on August 30, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    should be a tight series, probably drawn. Sri lanka seem to have a strong batting line-up but their bowling is very weak. mendis seems to be easily read and only plays and once in a blue moon good performance. welegedera is playing well and bowled with a lot of nipp in england and deserves his place in the team. lakmal seems to be a medicore bowler and there are better bowlers than him, eranga should replace him as his is faster and has the ability with pace and seam movement to get good batsman out. I also don't like herath in the team, he may keep the runs down ocassionly but does not have the ability to spin the ball at all, with variations only can't make u a world-class bowler. randiv does what hearath does and spins the ball, he should def play. my bowling line-up: s.prasanna, randiv, eranga and welegedara but this def won't happen. result 1-1 or 2-0 to australia. Go Lanka Go

  • jonesy2 on August 30, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    aus batsmen should feast on the sri lankan seamers. enjoy the runs and the challenge of the spinners boys. bowling required belief and disipline.

  • johnathonjosephs on August 30, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    I don't think Cricinfo understands that Australia has more than proved that they can play spin (since Murali is no longer playing)..... Honestly in the Test Arena, who is Lanka's best bowler? In fact, name a GOOD bowler... The only bowling side i can think of is Welegedera, Lakmal, Herath/Randiv/Prasanna, and another spinner/all rounder/fast bowler.... seems pretty pathetic to me Australia on the other hand have Johnson, the newbie Copeland, and some other experienced fellows can see a lot of drawn series unless a sri lankan hero bowler comes out. Biggest challenge for Australia is to dismiss Sri Lankan Batsman (Dilshan, Jayawardene, Matthews, Sanga, Samaraweera) on their own turf. If they can do so for cheap points, Aus will win. Otherwise expect draws

  • chapathishot on August 30, 2011, 8:31 GMT

    Srilanka has not won a series even at home for two years and not won a test match at home since Murali retired .I doubt,it will change in this series unless Mendis reinvents himself.

  • Dismayed on August 30, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    Wouldn't it be nice to have a guy coming in at 6 who culd bowl 15 overs of spin, oh Steve Smith, but no another quality young player dropped. Get rid of Ponting get rid of Haddin, Bring back Smith, Paine, and Okeefe, if Clarke does not make runs how can he keep his place? Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke?, Hussey, Smith, Paine, O'Keefe,Johnson, Harris, Copeland. or Warner, Hughes, Watson,Khawaja, D.Hussey,S.Smith, Paine, O'Keefe, Johnson, Harris, Copeland. So many good guys going around Butterworth,Hastings,Lyon, Bailey, Christian,Starc,Cummins, Abbott, M.Marsh, give the young guys ago. Please.

  • Ozcricketwriter on August 30, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    Marsh AND Khawaja should play. The only question is which one opens. Phil Hughes should be put in the dust bin. Neither Lyon nor Beer should play, and Siddle should take his place. Both spinners have been singularly unimpressive and I am going to suggest that the only spinner the Sri Lankans will worry about is one Xavier Doherty, who wasn't picked. As for Sri Lanka, lots of spin is the go and I would think that Herath and Randiv warrant mentioning alongside Ajantha Mendis.

  • on August 30, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    sl need 3 spinners..Randiv instead of Welagedara..Wela is just avarage he wont be a threat for aussies

  • dsig3 on August 30, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    Everyone is talking spin. What happens is Aus fast men run through Sri-Lanka? People are completely writing off the clear advantage Aus has with its fast bowling. Just because the pitch has spin doesnt mean fast bowlers are powerless. Sri Lanka may have better spinners, but they still are not worthy of polishing murali's shoes so we will see how much impact they have.

  • tanstell87 on August 30, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    Indian fan here...exciting series...Clarke has been good with his captaincy in ODI's...lets see what he comes up with in tests... Australia should play 3 quicks ...Johnson for me will be the key to Aussies doing well..but its difficult to crack Sri Lanka at home !!

  • Mazatar777 on August 30, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    australia will play well.they will soon become no 1

  • Somapala90 on August 30, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    Lets get into some real cricket,, eventhough its boring test cricket is the real cricket,, thats why its called "TEST" cricket :) hope the best team will win,, and i wish SL to be the best team,, and sri lanka rely heavily on their battin.. bowling is not reliable afta murali and malinga retiring frm tests.. and same with Aussies,, as a sri lankan, my heart says SRI LANKA...and as a cricket fan my mind also says "SRI LANKA".. and i stil think that captaincy shd go to MATHEWS if sanga not ready to take it over,. Dilshan is not captain material..for sure

  • Mary_786 on August 30, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    Khawaja and Copeland should start, they deserve their positions after performing in the warm up game

  • CricketCricic09 on August 30, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    I have met Copeland and seen him bowl. I believe he should be in the test team and stay there to the end of his career. He is an absolute brilliant bowler and with time can be as good as the great Glen. Starc will be seen in the next year as he is fast and can get upto 145ks. He might be in the test team in a year as Bolinger and Siddle are not the most unique of bolwers unlike Starc who can bowl consistently and fast. Lyon should be the pic, we need to choose bowlers who have unique talent and can be moulded like Shane Warne was. Warne was chosen due to a 6 for in first class and had pretty poor statistics in first class cricket. 1 year in the test team and he completely changed against the west indies. Lyon has brilliant loop and can turn the ball. We shouldnt be choosing due to the conditions, we should choose on the potential of players, which is why Usman will be chosen, Copeland and Johnson. But I will forever believe that Casson should have been the test spinner since MacGill.

  • on August 30, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    Now they're not playing England I hope Ponting fills his boots, haha. Be interesting to see how well Hughes and Marsh/Khawaja do too. Got to favour Sri Lanka at home, though.

  • hyclass on August 30, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    And yet @AbominableYeti,Smiths 1st class batting average reached the heights of 56,when he was first selected. Even at his current 1st class average of 42 and despite a great deal of vitriol directed at both he and his technique,his batting record is still superior to Marsh. Given Khawajas vastly superior average,hundred at last start and 8 hundreds in just 60 innings,is it fair to utter Marshes name in the sentence.Based on his career record,what depth does Marsh bring to the side,anywhere in the order? An average of 37? A S/R of 46.A hundred every 17 innings? Based on a feeble,1058 runs in 3 seasons,what evidence is there that it will change? Based on his current tour of SL,a fortunate 88 runs in 5 innings at 17.6,which could easily read 26 runs at 5,one could be forgiven for having to ask,'Does he bowl...because he doesnt bat'.

  • on August 30, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    Where is Nuwan Pradeep???

  • Cris_G on August 30, 2011, 6:43 GMT

    If the weather holds out then this should be a pretty good test match. Basically spin will be the difference. If Sri Lanka's batsmen do their job then SL should win with Mendis been the key to bowling Australia out twice, Mendis has taken 21 wickets in 4 matches at Galle. I have seen enough cricket to know not to write off Australia, However apart from Shane Warne spinners who arent use to bowling on such slow wickets dont generally bowl SL out twice in their home conditions. I see SL winning the series 1-0.

  • Herath-UK on August 30, 2011, 6:41 GMT

    The series starts even steven and if Sri Lanka draws the first blood in the Galle test,they will come strong in the rest and will be difficult to be beaten. Ranil Herath - Kent

  • me54321 on August 30, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    can't see Sri Lanka putting enough pressure on Aussie batsmen even at home, even with pitches suited to spin, and I don't expect it to be particularly interesting cricket. 0-0, or 1-0 to Australia

  • on August 30, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    Since Ricky is the only player remain Aussie squrd who played TEST in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka have good chance of winning it 3-0 white wash. Go Sri Lanka trash the Aussies

  • RandyOZ on August 30, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    landl: Unfair assessment, Khawaja and Hughes didn't play a full series. Hughes has done nothing but score since then.

  • Dashgar on August 30, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    Hard to call, so many question marks against so many players. Hope it goes the 5 days and Aussies pull off a win. Ponting to score big, Johnson's pace and variations to be the difference bowling.

  • athar.cricket on August 30, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    michael clarke is a classy batsman.though he is averaging 21.58 in his past nine test appearances.his overall test match batting average of 46.49 shows how consistent batsman he has been for australia.

  • hyclass on August 30, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    What selection dilemmas for Australia? With the squad CA sent them to SL with and the omissions of O'Keefe,Bollinger,refusal to select David Hussey for Tests and no back up keeper,there can only be one team named.In batting order:Watson, Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, Khawaja, Hussey, Haddin, Johnson, Harris, Copeland, Beer.The incumbents get first go,unless like Siddle,there is a compelling case to omit them on form.Lyon hasnt outbowled Beer and as the only spin options,Beer must remain in the side.The only alternative batsman,Marsh,has presented no case for selection.Khawaja,as the incumbent,is far superior and with a chanceless century at last start,must be selected.Harris has Test form and Pattinson hasnt outbowled him.Copeland has outbowled Pattinson and in the absence of a second spinner,will be required to bowl the long, accurate, wicket taking spells for which he is renowned.The side has Hughes,Copeland & Khawaja as youth & Beer& Harris as inexperienced Test players.It will need luck

  • landl47 on August 30, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    'Things' may have changed since the Ashes series, according to Michael Clarke, but the players haven't. Everybody but Copeland and Lyon played in the defeat by England and only one of those two is likely to play. Still, Sri Lanka is in the same boat. The toss might be important; if Australia can bat first against the non-existent SL pace attack, they might be able to pile up enough runs to work their way through the Sri Lankans. If SL bats first, they'll like their chances bowling last against Australia on a turning wicket. Both sides have big holes in their bowling (SL pace, Aus spin) but bat fairly deep. I like a draw if Aus bat first, a SL win if the home side wins the toss.

  • AbominableYeti on August 30, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    With Smith out of the squad and Khawaja/Marsh in at 6 it adds a lot more depth to the squad, Smith was really a nothing player, couldn't bat couldn't bowl, just in there because he looked like Shane Warne. The inclusion of a genuine spinner is good although we are a long way from cementing who it should be, in my mind it should be Hauritz he's still the best we have by a long way I feel. Also this leaves us with the three man pace attack which makes the side very similar to those of old, whether or not Johnson/Copeland/Harris can bowl to the same standard of McGrath/Gillespie/Lee will be interesting and exciting to see.

  • Nerk on August 30, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    Enough of all this one day rubbish. Cant wait to get back into some real cricket! Go Australia!

  • thebarmyarmy on August 30, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    Should be an interesting series. I see Sri Lanka winning 2-1

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  • thebarmyarmy on August 30, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    Should be an interesting series. I see Sri Lanka winning 2-1

  • Nerk on August 30, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    Enough of all this one day rubbish. Cant wait to get back into some real cricket! Go Australia!

  • AbominableYeti on August 30, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    With Smith out of the squad and Khawaja/Marsh in at 6 it adds a lot more depth to the squad, Smith was really a nothing player, couldn't bat couldn't bowl, just in there because he looked like Shane Warne. The inclusion of a genuine spinner is good although we are a long way from cementing who it should be, in my mind it should be Hauritz he's still the best we have by a long way I feel. Also this leaves us with the three man pace attack which makes the side very similar to those of old, whether or not Johnson/Copeland/Harris can bowl to the same standard of McGrath/Gillespie/Lee will be interesting and exciting to see.

  • landl47 on August 30, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    'Things' may have changed since the Ashes series, according to Michael Clarke, but the players haven't. Everybody but Copeland and Lyon played in the defeat by England and only one of those two is likely to play. Still, Sri Lanka is in the same boat. The toss might be important; if Australia can bat first against the non-existent SL pace attack, they might be able to pile up enough runs to work their way through the Sri Lankans. If SL bats first, they'll like their chances bowling last against Australia on a turning wicket. Both sides have big holes in their bowling (SL pace, Aus spin) but bat fairly deep. I like a draw if Aus bat first, a SL win if the home side wins the toss.

  • hyclass on August 30, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    What selection dilemmas for Australia? With the squad CA sent them to SL with and the omissions of O'Keefe,Bollinger,refusal to select David Hussey for Tests and no back up keeper,there can only be one team named.In batting order:Watson, Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, Khawaja, Hussey, Haddin, Johnson, Harris, Copeland, Beer.The incumbents get first go,unless like Siddle,there is a compelling case to omit them on form.Lyon hasnt outbowled Beer and as the only spin options,Beer must remain in the side.The only alternative batsman,Marsh,has presented no case for selection.Khawaja,as the incumbent,is far superior and with a chanceless century at last start,must be selected.Harris has Test form and Pattinson hasnt outbowled him.Copeland has outbowled Pattinson and in the absence of a second spinner,will be required to bowl the long, accurate, wicket taking spells for which he is renowned.The side has Hughes,Copeland & Khawaja as youth & Beer& Harris as inexperienced Test players.It will need luck

  • athar.cricket on August 30, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    michael clarke is a classy batsman.though he is averaging 21.58 in his past nine test appearances.his overall test match batting average of 46.49 shows how consistent batsman he has been for australia.

  • Dashgar on August 30, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    Hard to call, so many question marks against so many players. Hope it goes the 5 days and Aussies pull off a win. Ponting to score big, Johnson's pace and variations to be the difference bowling.

  • RandyOZ on August 30, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    landl: Unfair assessment, Khawaja and Hughes didn't play a full series. Hughes has done nothing but score since then.

  • on August 30, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    Since Ricky is the only player remain Aussie squrd who played TEST in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka have good chance of winning it 3-0 white wash. Go Sri Lanka trash the Aussies

  • me54321 on August 30, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    can't see Sri Lanka putting enough pressure on Aussie batsmen even at home, even with pitches suited to spin, and I don't expect it to be particularly interesting cricket. 0-0, or 1-0 to Australia