Debuts, delays and deluxe views
The good tidings
One of the most enjoyable points of a Test debutant's day is the conversation with his family after being given the news. Trent Copeland had the added advantage of being able to tell his family in person at the team hotel outside Galle. Michael Clarke announced the final XI to a team meeting late on match eve, after which Copeland was able to walk out of the room and tell loved ones who had arrived in Galle that very day. As such he was able to enjoy the moment: a celebratory soda water at the hotel bar was followed by a laugh-filled dinner in its restaurant. The family of Nathan Lyon, Australia's other debutant, were en route to Sri Lanka at the time. Having planned originally to announce the team on match morning, Cricket Australia chose on second thoughts to release it immediately that night to the touring press - family members have Twitter accounts, you see.
Australia's team bus and its attendant escort departed for the ground at precisely 7.45am local time to wend its way to the Galle International Stadium, about 45 minutes' drive away. Those present puzzled over the absence of the Sri Lankan team and its bus at the same time - warm-ups would surely be truncated without sufficient time before the scheduled 10am start, they thought. However this view reckoned without the morning rain, and the home side's knowledge of how long it might take to clear up. Having enjoyed a sleep-in, the Sri Lankans arrived at the ground shortly before 10am, just in time to limber up as the ground was cleared of its covers and prepared for an 11am start. The tourists, having waited around in the dressing rooms for an hour beforehand, must have asked themselves "why didn't we think of that?"
A new series in Sri Lanka means a new photo of the competing teams, taken with some haste in the moments before the Sri Lankan team and the Australian opening batsmen took to the middle. The sheer size of team support staff in the 21st century is noted with some bemusement by former players, who in the 1970s were commonly known to tour with the accompaniment of only a team manager and a scorer. Australia's count for this tour is about to shrink as some members of staff return home having fulfilled their preparatory duties, which will reduce the count from the present tally of 11. This is not quite enough to outnumber the 15 players in the Test squad, but it is enough for a cricket team, and in Justin Langer, Dene Hills and Greg Chappell the support staff's top order batting would be as notionally solid as that of the team proper.
Once Adelaide Oval is turned from a cricket ground to a football stadium in 2014, Galle will be entitled to join Newlands in Cape Town in terms of renown as the most picturesque of all Test match venues. It sits under the gaze of the fort first constructed by the Portuguese in the 16th century then substantially strengthened and updated by the Dutch about a century later. Its most striking feature is a clock tower, while slightly to its right a flagpole is adorned with the Sri Lankan national colours. The views of the ground from the parapet are comparable to any that may be found within the venue itself, and being free of charge they can always be expected to attract a crowd. Good as it is, this vantage point did not appear sufficient for one adventurous young local, who chose to watch part of the first session having climbed most of the way up the aforementioned flagpole.
This series is being played, in a stark reflection of the ICC's all too malleable provisions for the use of technology to review decisions, with the use of Hawkeye but not Hot-Spot. As such it is precisely the inverse of the conditions used for India's series in England, where Hawkeye was out but Hot-Spot was in. With Usman Khawaja on 6 the folly of such a position was made clear, as he appeared to be caught behind via an inside edge onto pad from the bowling of Suranga Lakmal. The appeal was ambiguous in nature - lbw was also a consideration if bat did not strike ball - and the lack of concrete evidence to support the strong notion of an edge, as might have been provided by heat-seeking cameras, saved Khawaja.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo