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Pat Cummins lauds 'brave' Australia for facing challenge head on

"There is so much appetite to learn and be successful on these wickets"

Being proactive. Being brave. And embracing the challenge of playing on spinning surfaces. According to captain Pat Cummins, these were the tenets of Australia's success in Galle, where they crushed Sri Lanka inside two-and-a-half days.
Proactive and brave, because Australia had scored at 4.53 in the 70.1 overs they'd batted in the first innings, even though they'd been 100 for 4 at one stage. The sixth-wicket partnership between Cameron Green and Alex Carey was a particular example of the urgency Australia brought to their batting. They put on 84 runs off 93 balls, and advanced Australia's chances substantially on a rain-curtailed second day.
"A couple of new words we're using about our approach is about being proactive and being brave," Cummins said after the match. "We saw some really clear methods from all the batters. They might have been individually a bit different, but you saw everyone being really proactive, and putting pressure back on the bowlers. It's something you'd normally talk about in one-day cricket or T20 cricket. But I think that's the style over here that's needed."
A more aggressive approach brings risk too, however. While Usman Khawaja, Green, and Carey produced substantial innings, others, like Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head, were out cheaply, attacking. For Cummins, though, failure is just a part of this approach.
"I think it's part of the environment that we are trying to create," he said. "Failure is absolutely okay, as long as you are failing in a way you are happy to be."
Some of Australia's batters who had been to Sri Lanka in 2016 had failed during that 3-0 loss. But they are richer for that experience, Cummins said.
"I think I wouldn't discount our batters in our squad that have been here. They know what works. All of them have had success in these types of wickets, so having them as great reference points for the young guys and seeing them go out and do it - I don't have to do anything as captain really."
Eight months into his captaincy, Cummins' side has also gone undefeated in four successive Tests in Asia, having won two of those games. The Australia of 2022 is no longer so wary of spinning conditions, Cummins said. Even the senior players are being pushed to develop their games further.
"Embracing everything about the conditions - that's been a big one for us. In the past you can get caught up in conditions that aren't like Australia, but if you want to be the number one Test team in the world, you've got be winning overseas. I think everyone - the experienced guys finding new shots, Mitchell Starc working on reverse swing, Nathan Lyon coming up with a few new balls - there is so much appetite to learn and be successful on these wickets."
Lyon was instrumental to this victory, having taken 5 for 90 in the first innings, then 4 for 31 in the second. Through the course of this game, he also surpassed three bowling greats on the all-time wicket tally. He now sits 10th on that list with 436 wickets, just ahead of Rangana Herath, Kapil Dev, and Richard Hadlee.
"I wouldn't change Lyon for anyone," Cummins said. "He's gone into the top 10 wicket takers of all time. You saw him out there. He's unplayable for left or right-handers. Sometimes out here, bounce for spinners is spoken about something that's not desirable, but he showed here with that bounce he was unplayable. His stamina as well - you give him the ball from one end and say see you at the end of the day."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf