Australia beat Sri Lanka 3-0.
I didn’t predict that one did I? You all have permission to desert me now for ever more.
To my (and their) credit, the Sri Lankans only embarrassed themselves in one of the three Tests; which must surely rank as a minor success, considering the views of the Channel 9 commentary team on their players, team and heritage as ‘chuckers’ (one can still feel the smouldering, RIGHTEOUS resentment).
You almost would’ve thought they were talking about Bangladesh, such was their lack of respect for a proud and talented cricketing nation. In fairness, Sri Lanka’s solitary victory in the 26 Test matches played between the sides is the worst record any ‘major’ nation holds against a fellow GIANT OF CRICKET.
So I guess when these two countries meet, Sri Lanka shall now be regarded as a sexier Bangladesh and we shouldn’t be disappointed when they are beaten soundly.
The record is a strange one, as when the two play against each other, they’re normally fairly spicy, hard fought encounters. Or at least they seem so in my brain, but who knows what is going on in there…
I’ve already written on my disappointment at the Sri Lankan’s noble failure of grinding out a draw in the first Test at Hobart, so I’ll now write on their valiant attempt to claw back some face after the Boxing Day Test debacle (they were smashed like the sexy Bangladesh we just agreed they are).
The Australian team displayed the extreme manner of the contempt that they hold the current Sri Lanka team with by selecting Mitchell Johnson to bat at seven.
Just to put that in context, Mitchell Johnson was batting in the same spot Adam Gilchrist had for most of his 9 years in the side.
The Sri Lankan’s had to reshape their side completely due to an Australian-esque avalanche of minor injuries crippling the side. Kumar Sangakarra was ruled out, so was Prassanna Jayawardene, two of their more consistent players.
Everyone was worried that the match, in short, would be shit.
The small glint of hope lied in the geographic setting of the game: we were in glorious, sunny, irritatingly hot Sydney; The home of beautiful, blonde girls (sigh, and guys) and sharks (the two not being completely mutually exclusive, think of stunning shapely legs dangling daintily out of a Great White’s jaws).
This meant that the pitch (according to tradition) would spin, were the match to last longer than a Shane Watson bowling spell.
If the Sri Lankans had ground out a hundred more runs in either of their innings (we’re looking at you Dilshan, Samaraweera and Matthews) I believe they would have won. They should have included Suraj Randiv at the expense of one of their three thoroughly un-threatening seamers; this might have made the Aussie’s chase of 141 a tougher task, though they lost five wickets doing so but you get the impression they just wanted to get Mike Hussey on strike in his final innings.
Mike Hussey has retired from international cricket.
I always liked Hussey as a guy: a hard worker, who played hard, fair and honest. He must have had some very difficult periods during his elongated apprenticeship on the first class scene, but it is tough to imagine any player who made his debut quite so complete a batsman as Hussey was when he did. His sustained success after his Test introduction at the age of 30 was staggering. The biggest compliment I can offer him is that I always hated seeing him arrive at the crease. He leaves the game with an average over 50 and the pleas of Michael Clarke and Micky Arthur echoing, imploring him to carry on for another 12 months at least. There is a kind of poetic justice in that that I like.
All my best wishes for Mr Cricket.
So Sri Lanka fought (in patches) and though my 2-0 prediction should have been proven correct (if it weren’t for Matthews throwing it all away in that final hour at Hobart), it wasn’t.
Sri Lanka’s star performer was Rangana Herath who led his team’s attack with enthusiasm and a distinguished mastery of his art form. Watching him bowl and outsmart the aggressive, sometime leaden Aussie batsmen was beautiful. He could have added another 3 or 4 at least to his tally of 12 (at 33.91) which already equalled the highest amount of Test wickets a Sri Lankan has taken in one series in Australia. Considering Mahela Jayawardene’s captaincy was far short of dynamic and the fielding so-so, Herath took these wickets largely through his own (albeit orthodox) genius alone.
A special mention is launched from this space straight to Dinesh Chandimal, as in his only Test of the series he delivered a delightful seminar on how to bat with the tail end. I cried for his inclusion on this blog prior to the series and his sound temperament, defensive technique and sub-continental flair surely means he won’t be missing out on many Test matches for a long time.
The Australians did that irritating thing they did for fifthteen years, which is have the majority of their team pulling in the same direction simultaneously. When each player contributes in a series, you know you’re pretty much going to emerge victorious. I could name Michael Clarke or Peter Siddle as their man of the series, but I don’t want to.
That was that then, let’s see how the Australians cope in India come late Feb/March.
Now, New Zealand. 45 all out in the first session of a Test match. Bowled out in 19.2 overs; ten wickets in 116 legal deliveries. The second quickest, in terms of balls bowled, a team has ever been removed. A Sky Sports news headline summed it up really:
‘SOUTH AFRICA DESTROY NEW ZEALAND’
It looks as harsh on paper as it should; it was quite simply one of the most hapless displays of batting one will see. Yes, Vernon Philander was at his McGrath-like best, putting the ball right where the batsmen didn’t want it, nibbling it both ways, but the Kiwis pushed my loyalty to the very edge of reason. And Christ I am a loyal person.
I wonder how Martin Crowe reacted, Or John Wright or Ross Taylor.
On the second day New Zealand battled hard and that was good to see. Brendan McCullum marshalled his boys well; Chris Martin and Trent Boult came back hard but the Saffers declared 300 runs ahead. The Kiwis showed good grit with the bat second time round and Dean Brownlie in his comeback Test scored his maiden ton.
I am a very big fan of Brownlie. He favours the back foot and is the perfect man to come in at 5/6.In this innings he countered hard, then consolidated his score with some determined resistance against a fired up Steyn. It was a very good knock for a man batting a place too high and I hope he is a nailed in cert for the next 18 months or so. I endorse him fully, thus, so should you all.
Did I say Dale Steyn was fired up? He was on fire, he was electric, and it was liquid cricket.
I had fun with that sentence.
He stormed in for 8 overs on the trot after lunch on the third day. He bowled short at the lower middle order and tail end, clocking in the 140-145kphs and tore the last remnant of Kiwi courage from them.
But South Africa beware the cornered New Zealander; keep Hobart and Colombo in mind. Neil Wagner (another man I rate) will probably make his way back into the team. I look forward to it.
In India, Pakistan beat the hosts 2-1 in the first bilateral ODI series between the two for five years. MS Dhoni fought them single handedly. I weep for him, there is something of the loner in him nowadays, drifting through the various vicissitudes of Indian cricket and its administrators. He always seems to be fighting a solo mission and I feel for him. He is also the greatest ODI batsman they’ve had since Tendulkar’s decline and arguably the best in the World. He deserves all the patience in the world and is truly the man to shepherd in a new generation. I think so anyway.
Please, disagree, moan, gripe, feel.
I am leaving London for the North on Friday. My workload is bulking up again, come this time next week it shall be reaching a bull crushing crescendo.
It is my birthday on the 21st.
Send hate (love) mail.
Don’t worry you anxious people, I SHALL BE WATCHING ALL THE CRICKET I CAN. As if work will prevent me from lazing about on me chair with my feet propped up on two pillows and a cup of coffee in mah hand.
Thanks for reading, if you liked what you read and found it all enigmatic and informing, scroll down and read more. You’ll be feeding my ego and isn’t that the most altruistic of things to do?
I miss you every morning.