Australia's captain Steven Smith has conceded a radical shift in Test selection may be required in order to change the national side's increasingly grim record in Asia, after he presided over a series-ending thrashing at the hands of Sri Lanka in Galle. It was Australia's eighth consecutive loss in the region, following series clean sweeps by India and Pakistan in 2013 and 2014.
The top six chosen for Pallekele and Galle was the same as that used through last summer in Australia and New Zealand, but Smith admitted it may now be time to think in terms of the players best-equipped to deal with spin bowling on helpful pitches, rather than the diet of pace on which most of his batting colleagues have been raised. Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja in particular have looked out of their depth despite strong returns last season, each innings looking more fraught than the last.
Touring players will have the option of returning to Galle for training on what should have been the fourth day of the Test. The centre pitch on which the batsmen were so confused has been left unwatered in order to be used for additional practice. However Smith agreed that the composition of the team needed to be examined in view of the results collected here.
"Yeah it certainly needs to be looked at," Smith said following the 229-run defeat that handed Sri Lanka the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy for the first time since it was struck. "If there are guys that can play spin well in these conditions then it's certainly got to be a chance. It's been too long now - I think it's been 15 or 16  games since we've won a game in the subcontinent, so whatever we're doing it's not working. So yeah there might be a need for some changes."
Australia have chosen batsmen for subcontinent conditions in the past, the current coach and selector Darren Lehmann among them. He made his debut in India in 1998 then later played a useful role in series wins in Pakistan and India, while often being left out at home as others were thought to be more proficient against pace. Smith was himself a batsman picked for the conditions expected in India three years ago, a tour for which the selectors were believed to have also considered David Hussey before hesitating.
The Australia A captain Peter Handscomb has been suggested as a player with the potential to perform more ably against spin than others, while the selection of specialist opening batsmen like Burns may also come into question. Shaun Marsh and Moises Henriques are the reserve batsmen on tour, and both should come into contention for the third Test in Colombo next week.
"I think it's been 15 or 16  games since we've won a game in the subcontinent, so whatever we're doing it's not working." Australia captain Steven Smith
"The guys are a bit down at the moment and fair enough too, it's been a tough series so far, we have been outplayed in both Test matches, the mood's not great at the moment. We are a bit disappointed, but we've still got plenty to play for in Colombo," Smith said. "We have got to try and prove to ourselves and the public that we can play in these conditions.
"I thought the first innings was very disappointing, I thought today we were a little bit more proactive, we saw some sweep shots, some reverse sweeps, the guys using their feet and to get around 180 I thought probably around 200 in the last innings of this game or every innings of this match was probably around par. So we saw a little bit of proactive thinking and innovative thinking today to find a way, we just haven't been able to do it for long periods of time though.
"They have got some quality bowlers in their team that get the ball to spin and then skid sharply as well. I guess when the ball does spin sharply it sort of plays on your mind that you might just play outside of one. We haven't been good enough with it and we have to find ways to just cover that ball that doesn't spin. The majority of the time if it spins it spins too far, we have to forget about the ball before essentially and if it comes and does spin, hopefully it spins past the stumps and the outside edge."
Smith also addressed the disparity in the performances of Australia's spinners Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland against their Sri Lankan counterparts Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan. "They didn't get many wickets did they?" Smith said of Lyon and Holland. "We need to find ways to bowl differently to how we bowl our spin in Australia as well. You look at the Sri Lankan spinners, any of the subcontinent spinners, they bowl that side seam on the ball where they can go up and down with their speeds and trajectory. The ball reacts differently. One ball goes straight on and speeds up off the wicket, one ball spins and you don't know which one is which.
"I don't think the bowlers actually know which one is which either. In Australia traditionally, we get taught to get over the top of the ball and in Australia I think you need to get that shape to try and do the batsman in drift and shape in the air. Whereas, I think it's the exact opposite playing in the subcontinent. The ones with the side seam are extremely hard to face and our spin bowlers need to continue working on that. It's bowling a completely different way to the way we bowl in Australia.
"I thought all of the fast bowlers did a pretty good job for us in this game, but to be fair, it shouldn't be them taking the wickets. It should be our spinners that are getting the job done. For Jon Holland in his first Test, he was obviously a little bit nervous and you can excuse that a little bit. The spinners have to find a way to get wickets and keep the runs dry on these surfaces. We've gone at over four an over for both Test matches, so we've got to find a way for the spinners to get wickets in these conditions."