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

We'd have won bowling first too - Watson

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Shane Watson, the Australia vice-captain, has said his side bowled so well to Sri Lanka's batsman that they would have won the first Test in Galle even if they had lost the toss and fielded first.

After his side took a 1-0 lead in the series, Australia's captain Michael Clarke said he felt the toss had been critical, and decried a pitch on which that was so. But Watson said the Australia bowlers had been so disciplined and balanced in their work that bowling first would not have made much difference.

"To be able to win a Test match in Sri Lanka is a really good effort," Watson said. "I know batting first helped the cause but we did bowl very well as a group throughout the whole Test match and in the end I don't think it would have mattered that much whether we batted or bowled first.

"I thought we bowled as well as we have for a number of years. We were able sustain pressure for a long time and make it hard for Sri Lanka to score runs."

On a turning wicket, Australia's seamers accounted for 13 wickets in the Test, with Watson getting three in ten balls during a spell of reverse-swing bowling in the first innings, and then two in the second, including Kumar Sangakkara's scalp with a snorter of a short ball. He pointed to the performance of the fast bowlers as an example of just how well they had done as a bowling unit.

"We did get the best of the conditions batting first, but for our quicks to have an impact, especially in the second innings provides some confidence to us fast bowlers that will play a big part in the next two Tests.

"As a batting unit we have to capitalise on our starts; there's no doubt Michael Hussey batted beautifully in conditions where we didn't know what a good score was."

Ricky Ponting's absence from the second Test will be a blow to Australia's efforts to secure the series, as much in the field as with the bat, after he held a pair of rasping catches in the first innings, but Watson said the circumstances opened up an opportunity for Shaun Marsh.

"It will have some impact losing someone who has won 100 Test matches, which is a phenomenal achievement really, but it gives Shaun Marsh an opportunity as well. He has been batting beautifully over the last six months; he has a number of gears as a batsman and over here against the spin and the pace that will be important. That is the exciting thing about Ricky going home."

Tillakaratne Dilshan is adamant he won't change his aggressive style of batting after a pair of low scores in Galle, and Watson said that suited Australia. He pointed out that Ryan Harris had made Dilshan look decidedly uncomfortable by moving the ball in to him, denying him room to play through the off side..

"It's the way he plays isn't it, he's always batted like that and he's always backed himself. There's no doubt the ball coming back in to him provides a different ballgame compared to the ball going away from him so he can free his arms. So hopefully he keeps playing the way he does and we'll be able to execute our plans the way we did, like Ryan Harris in the second innings especially. Hopefully as a captain he won't have too much impact throughout the series."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hyclass on September 6, 2011, 10:53 GMT

    Its as foolish and unprovable to oppose what Watson has said,as it is,ungracious and unproveable for Watson to have said it.

  • awesome10 on September 6, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    I was dissappointed with the way Ponting got out of two rash shots in the first and second innings. He could have had a big score if not for those two poor shot selection.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on September 6, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    Take note of CamCove, Mario, he is a level-headed Aussie. No need for bitterness..

  • CricketFan2011WC on September 5, 2011, 22:53 GMT

    @VivGilchrist, I am a SL-fan, and I agree with you. To further add, although it is off the title, it is disappointing to see all the batters blaming on the pitch when it had assisted bowlers. Both teams had wicket taking spin bowlers and they took wickets. So arn't Dilshan and our "top" class batters should be able to handle good bowling, or are they asking batting friendly pitches to shine themselves. This applies to Ponting as well (not a big fan of him), during world cup he was referring to Premadasa-wicket as "rolled mud". Of course earth's crust is made out of weathered rocks. These people are putting blame on somewhere else to not to show their inability. Clarke and Hussy batted well, and Watto bowled beautifully in a so called "spin" friendly wicket. In any case Aus-won when both teams were given the same pitch. So are these people asking for pitches that they only can bat? If you are a cricketer you should be able to handle any pitch and blame themselves for their inability.

  • DazTaylor on September 5, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    @Marcio It seems you are making the mistake our Indian friends tend to do and that is to confuse TEST matches and ODI. Two completely different games. One where England are better than everyone else and one where Australia are (despite India winning the WC).

  • Valavan on September 5, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    @chandau, dont speak like a saint here. Does it matter when the game is really over. Fellow SL fans dont follow dhonisque excuses.

  • camcove on September 5, 2011, 13:29 GMT

    Now Yorkshire Matt, I don't want to go out on a limb here, but methinks you might come from the Old Country. It might even be that you are having a bit of sport at the expense of us poor humble Aussies. I think it should be said, even allowing for the banter, that you guys should celebrate the work ethic, talent and resultant success of your "mob". This is without doubt the best English side I have seen. Apart from the obvious depth of the bowling (Tremlett was missing for 3 of the 4 tests against India, and so Bresnan stepped in and, as in Oz last summer, showed his considerable talent and Swann may be a Jack the lad , but he is one talented offie, who is lethal against lefties) and batting, I love the way someone seems to step up when there is potential disaster. (Prior is a good example). This is what Oz used to do in our heyday. As we are wont to say, goodonya. (Of course we are plotting your downfall, and at the same time hoping it doesn't take as long as ours did)!

  • Marcio on September 5, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    @yorkshirematt, considering that Eng struggled to beat SL at home I wouldn't bet on it. You poms have become the cherry pickers and spin doctors of cricket, picking and choosing your series and stats to suit your argument. So let me cherry pick one more stat for you. 6-1: the series result last time Eng played Australia. And no, you didn't win. You got annihilated. ;-)

  • here2rock on September 5, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    Sri Lanka got but they deserved! They make unfair pitches to suit their spinners and it is about time they pay the price. India is just the same. Lesson for both countries.

  • VivGilchrist on September 5, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    Oh, I get it! 3 wickets in the first, 2 in the 2nd (including the wicket of Sangakarra) only equals bowling well in one innings. I think it just makes me sick when people can't give credit to the opposition when they win. The two highest scores were from the first and fourth innings. Who's to say Australia wouldn't have chased down the total with wickets to spare batting last? C'mon Lankans please don't lower yourselves to the standards of the constant excuse making Indian fans.

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