Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 2nd day September 17, 2011

Second new ball will be key - Hussey


Ladies and gentlemen, your Man of the Series. If match awards in Galle and Pallekele were not enough, Michael Hussey strengthened his grip on the individual garlands still further by constructing an expert 118 to hold Australia's middling first innings together at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground.

He did it in much the same style with which runs were collected in the first two Tests, demonstrating patience, placement, and hands that were in equal part deft and powerful. Hussey now has four centuries in five Tests against Sri Lanka. However it is his 95 on a spiteful surface in Galle that sticks strongest in his memory.

"I think the first innings in Galle really stands out at the moment," Hussey said. "Because the conditions were so challenging and to get our team into a great position to win that Test, the first Test of a series, gives me a lot of pleasure. Having said that you've got to work hard for every Test match hundred, so I'm elated with all of them."

Well as he has played, Hussey still began this Test with a demotion in the batting order, to accommodate Shaun Marsh at No. 3. The move down to No. 6 seemed scant reward for the form Hussey has demonstrated over the past 12 months, during which he was the only batsman to consistently defy England's rampant Ashes tourists, and in Sri Lanka has held the entire home attack in thrall.

"I'm not fussed at all about being at No. 6," he said. "Opposition teams will look at our batting order and think it is pretty daunting; if we get some guys in and doing well, it is going to be a very powerful batting order."

Hussey also said he did not want to read too much into his recent run of good scores because form can be a fickle thing. "I've always wondered about this good form and bad form thing; there's such a fine line between them. Sometimes you just need that little bit of luck. Getting a good score early in a series does wonders for your confidence. You feel like you can just relax, play your game. But I've never liked to say I'm in good form because it only takes a couple of good balls and you're suddenly in bad form."

Two of Hussey's more significant partnerships in this series have been in the company of Marsh, who has made 141 and 81 in his first two Test innings to provide the other major bulwark of Australia's batting. Marsh's dismissal late on the first day saw the Australian innings take a turn towards mediocrity, and Hussey said, despite his effort, Australia had fallen a bit short of a good total.

"The conditions, as the ball got older, were very good for batting, so it would've been nice if we'd gone over 350. Having said that we did lose the toss and on the first morning there was a little bit of juice in the pitch."

The shortfall has placed Australia in their most tenuous position of the series, more or less at the mercy of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara on their beloved SSC strip, where they have now scored 1607 runs in partnership with each other. For this reason, Hussey pointed to the third day as the most important one of the series.

"It is a little ominous I must admit. They keep putting the statistics up on the board and you can look it at one of two ways, you can either say 'oh dear' or you can say 'well they're due to fail', so hopefully it is the latter. It's certainly going to be hard to dislodge them with the older ball, but hopefully with the second new ball we can make a few inroads; that's going to be a key part of the game I think.

"It is probably the biggest day of the series coming up tomorrow, if we can bowl well, restrict them and take the wickets, then it is going to put us in a fantastic position to win the Test match, but if we can't get rid of Kumar and Mahela, they're going to give themselves every chance to win the Test as well."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on September 19, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    @ landl47 - mate the 2nd Test was nowhere near won for England. There was more like 60 overs lost as 15 of the 85 you are whinging about was because of the final hour being called off as no result was likely. SL had 7 wickets in hand requiring another 216 runs, which is VERY do-able. Would England have declared that early? Probably not, but they did & SL was a genuine chance with an extra 75 overs to chase. As for the 3rd Test, since when is it a guaranteed win chasing over 200? SL COULD of ended up setting a 300+ total to chase, & COULD of bowled England out batting last. It's been done MANY times before, with better sides than England folding. England were the better side vs SL, but 1-nil is the REAL scoreline!

  • Marcio on September 18, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Maybe you forgot the SL's beat ENG by ten wickets in the WC. And AUS flogged ENG 6-1 in the one dayers last time round. Now that's what I call "mediocre"! Yes, AUS and SL are better. Much better. ;-)

  • John on September 18, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    @Daveptee: I take it you didn't watch the England-Sri Lanka games? Sri Lanka never got 20 wickets in any of the tests, lost the first by an innings and would have lost the second and third if they had't been saved by the weather- 85 overs lost in the second test and 189 in the third. That's not 'struggling to beat Sri Lanka', that's completely dominating Sri Lanka. England also won the ODI series, in a format where they are not yet as good as in tests. Given England's three wins by an innings over Australia in Australia, yes, England are much better. We'll see whether South Africa are much better than England when they play next year. South Africa couldn't beat England or India at home, maybe they'll do better in England, but somehow I doubt it.

  • Dummy4 on September 18, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    Hussey only has a good few years left in him, who knows by the time the australian summer is over, he could find himself dropped like Katich. Let's hope not, but young players like Marsh, Khawaja, and Hughes want to cement their spots. We also have the discarded Marcus North. But at the moment Hussey is going strong. But the biggest challenge for him will be playing against South Africa.

  • cool on September 18, 2011, 0:27 GMT

    Hussey is very determined character in OZ camp.I remember Rahul Dravid when ever he come to bat not his style but his determination to stay long and play a long innings.However,I want SL to win this match and level the series.They have upcoming talent,are runner ups in WC , and however should use home conditions in a better way.Go Lions Go!!!!!

  • Basil on September 17, 2011, 23:38 GMT

    When was the last time Siddle took a wicket with the new ball?

  • Johnathon on September 17, 2011, 22:25 GMT

    watch out for sanga....... in his interview he expressed feelings that he might be fastest to 9000 runs and more

  • dave on September 17, 2011, 20:49 GMT

    Guys,if you look at the history of cricket, Australia has been the best overall team....they can never be written off.......and these are not mediocre England much better...remember they barely struggled to beat Sri Lanka that too in their home conditions...just because India played like trash and had half their regular players injured does not make England a great side........South Africa are much better

  • Dummy4 on September 17, 2011, 19:19 GMT

    Yupzz.3rd day should b very crucial. These two veterans shoud build a 200+ partnrshp 2 havng a big lead 2 go 2 2nd innings, @least 150+ z quite capable 2 giv som pressures on Ozs.Sl fans keep on faith on des two in SSC statistics.

  • John on September 17, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    It's only day 2, but this game is beginning to have eerie similarities to the Ashes series for the Australians. The batting was held together by Hussey and, without Harris, none of the other bowlers look very penetrative. Only 4 Australians reached double figures and three of them were the old guys- Ponting, Hussey and Haddin. Ponting hasn't made a 50 in his last 10 test innings- has he ever gone through a spell like that before? As for the bowling, someone commented before the second test that all the Austrialian bowlers had test bowling averages under 30. That didn't last long- now if Lyon and Watson add a few hundredths to their averages, all the Aus bowlers will have averages OVER 30. I don't see much in this group to indicate the brave new world is here. Sri Lanka is woefully short of bowling and their reason for being in the hole they are is that they wrongly assumed that they would bat better than Australia on the dustbowl that was the Galle pitch. These are 2 mediocre teams.

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