Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 4th day September 3, 2011

'We've come to win three Test matches' - Clarke


Australia's team for the first Test was well prepared, well drilled, well motivated and well selected. So much so that not even a spiteful Galle pitch could upset its progress against opponents who were far less steady in their make-up and attitude. Michael Clarke rejoiced after a job well done in his first Test as full-time captain and selector, and saved special praise for Ryan Harris, who was playing his first international match since returning from an ankle fracture.

The composition of the team had been in doubt until match eve, when Clarke announced that the childhood friends and bowlers, Trent Copeland and Nathan Lyon, would debut together. The state of the pitch had caused debate over the need for two spinners, but Copeland and Lyon were the ideal additions to a team that successfully strangled Sri Lanka's batting after posting 273 on day one.

"Definitely [it was satisfying to choose the right team]. Yes we could have picked two spinners but I guess we as selectors thought that we had the right group of eleven players to take the field for this Test match," Clarke said. "I was confident that we could win the game with the eleven players.

"I'm sure Kandy's going to be a different surface now, with the way this game turned out, and we'll reassess in Kandy. I think that's important for us as a selection group, that we do pick what we feel is the best eleven for the conditions for that given game.

"It's very easy while you're winning to stick with the same team but, as I said to all the boys in that changing room, what's going to help us have success over a long period of time is a good group, a strong squad and that's not just the 15 players here. That's all the contracted players being on one page, going in the same direction."

At least one change is guaranteed, as Ricky Ponting leaves to be present for the birth of his second child. Shaun Marsh will be in line to debut at No. 6 while Usman Khawaja moves back up to No. 3. David Warner has been called up as the standby batsman. Warner's rise as a potential Test player has been dramatic, but there are no greater stories of reinvention in the current side than that of Harris.

Starting out as an injury-prone medium pacer with South Australia, Harris is now the most effective bowler in the Test team, offering pace, movement and a huge heart for hard work and the contest. In addition to his ankle, healed after a fracture during the Melbourne Ashes Test, Harris bowls on a wonky knee. Clarke hoped the joint would hold out for some time yet.

"Hopefully to the end of my career," Clarke said. "What a bowler. What a bloke. A great guy to have in your team. Will do anything for the team and at any stage, give him the new ball, give him the old ball, even into the breeze, he doesn't care. He loves playing for Australia and we love having him around. He's in pretty good hands I think. Alex [Kountouris], our physio, is a genius. He manages to keep a lot of us on the park daily so I'm really confident we can keep Rhino [Harris] around for a bit longer yet."

Australia's victory was held up by Angeo Mathews and Mahela Jaywardene, but Clarke said he had been hanging out for the arrival of the second new ball to scythe through the rest.

"I think today certainly, once the hardness went out of the ball, the wicket didn't have as much oomph in it. It seemed pretty dead to be honest," Clarke said. "Even the spin was slower spin off the wicket, wasn't such sharp turn. I'd hate to say the toss did determine the game, but I know I wouldn't have liked to be chasing, or for Sri Lanka to have 280 on the board at the end of day one after knowing what it was like to bat out there."

Cradling a 1-0 lead into Kandy, Clarke promised there would be no slackening in effort, saying his men had arrived in Sri Lanka with three victories, and not one, in mind. "We know we've got to be at our best, and there's certainly areas of our game that need to improve from this match, but I think overall we played some really good positive cricket," Clarke said. "The most important thing is we had our plans. We stuck to them through thick and thin.

"We supported each other, whether that was in the field with the bowlers, our tail wagged with the bat, there's so many things that we did really well throughout the Test match. No doubt we have to turn up for the next Test and be at our best again. We know it's going to be tough to play here but we didn't come here to win one Test match, we've come to win three Test matches."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Randolph on September 6, 2011, 2:27 GMT

    Clarke still needs to perform with the bat though. One good innings of 60 in a long drought is still not enough to escape the harsh public eye (including myself). He won't be considered a good captain until he also starts contributing via runs in a big way. @Front-Foot-Lunge, because you paste the same post in 5 different articles doesn't emphasize your point, it only goes to highlight your blatantly lacking cricket knowledge.

  • Michael Ponnudurai on September 5, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    I think Aus could play two seamers in Copeland and Harris and two spinners in Lyon and Beer if they find a similar pitch in either of the next two Test matches in SL. The reason, is the third seamer role can easily be done by Watson. Johnson should be left to rest until he could demonstrate through the Sheffield shield, to be more consistent with line. In closer games, his runs gifting bowling could prove decisive in favour of the opposition which is not what Aus wants at this time of recovery

  • Deleepa on September 5, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    Sri Lanka cricket on is going down. Bad captaincy, problem inside and outside the team, Political influence and no team spirit will lead to a terrible time in SL cricket. Since the world cup SL lost the Test series in England, Lost the ODI series in England, Lost the ODI series v Aus in SL and going to lose the Test series v Aus in SL........Great going boysss.

  • django on September 4, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    I remember going to see Harris play a touring team in Adelaide and he was a short medium pace trundler who swung the ball. I dont know how he became what he is now. The next time I saw him he was playing for QLD bowling at 150km.

  • Rajaram on September 4, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    This is a great start for Michael Clarke's leadership and Australia. Like in 2004, when Ponting took over as Test Captain from Steve Waugh, I hope this Australian side whitewashes Sri Lanka, like Ponting's men did in 2004. Australia will move to Number 3 in Test rankings, edging out India - watch out Poms,we're getting closer to Number one!

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    @mohsin9975 "Sl seem to acquire a bad habit of starting slowly nd then playing catchup as india were famous(or infamous) for when no1"

    You have lost 9 in a row now, when is this amazing catch-up going to start?

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    SL need good 2nd test.....otherwise australia again to their Own spot.......come on....need good opening pace bowlers....Kulasekara is good to occupy.......with prasad....iam thing or any other expereiece players..of Home team adv.....

  • Christopher on September 4, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Just when you think,the Argus Review may have triumphed,Chappell chimes in for one last selectorial hurrah.Desperate to pick long shots and unknowns to validate his time with Australian cricket,that has seen plummetting results,he has once again ignored the obvious for personal glory.Just like India before him,Argus rebuked everything Chappell.His selection appointment has been revoked.His Futures League changes overturned.The use of the Cof E is being reviewed.I cannot think of a more damning indictment of Chappell.What a slap in the face to David Hussey.After 9 first class games,Warner is getting a shot as a Test batsman? Hussey,with 40 centuries,who was already part of the squad in SL,at a time when it was known that Ponting might be indisposed,was sent home.Marsh and Warner have 32 less centuries between them,than David Hussey.This squad already has Harris,Beer,Khawaja,Hughes,Copeland and Lyon with little Test experience.Is it so scary to have class experience replace experience?

  • j on September 4, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Australia are now at the point England were after the 06/07 Ashes. They're about 5 years or so behind. Australia fans shouldn't be too disheartened though: England may have the better bowlers, batsmen etc and be the better team but if they keep training hard and playing to win, they will improve. What's good for England fans is that nobody can dispute that they are world number one by a country mile.

  • j on September 4, 2011, 6:11 GMT

    jonesy2, you seem to have forgotten Anderson and co who utterly destroyed Australia very recently...selective thinking my friend: open your eyes!

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