We’ve arrived in the post-Ponting era. At the best looking cricket ground in Australia since Adelaide Oval has been re-configured to host footy. Clarke wins the toss and bats with his new look batting line-up. Question marks over all of the top four. Cowan just survives the second ball when a tough chance is dropped by Mathews at slip. But the adopted Tasmanian doesn’t last much longer, skying a disgusting pull shot to mid-on. It’s one thing to come out positively, but Australia doesn’t need Cowan playing those type of shots in an order also containing Hughes and Warner. And when there is three other openers in an unbalanced looking team. Hughes comes out to the venue of his last Test when he was shown up completely by Kiwi Chris Martin and looks in great touch, some great cover drives. Warner playing just as well, technically a better player than Hughes, shot selection more often his downfall. Warner brings up his fifty and a huge score is on offer for him until a mix-up between him and Hughes right on lunch sees Warner run out for 57. 2/97 at lunch.
Australia’s new number 4, Shane Watson, joins Hughes and this pair continue on largely untroubled until Watson is caught behind off Welegedara for 30. Hughes reaches 77 and is also caught behind off Welegedara. Except it’s a no-ball. It’s bad enough when Siddle or Pattinson take a wicket with a no-ball, ridiculous when poor man’s Chaminda Vaas does it bowling 125kph. Welegedara doesn’t pay much for his crime, bowling Hughes shortly after for 86. Our best two batsmen Clarke and Hussey (both batting at least 1 spot too low) look untroubled, as they have for most of the summer, in taking the score to 4/299 at stumps. Clarke on 70, Hussey on 37.
Many questions about Australia’s top 4 remain unanswered. Cowan has a lot to do. Warner looks reasonably set as an opener and has earned an extended run. Hughes, like the rest of the order, won’t be tested properly until the Ashes series. Sri Lanka’s pop gun attack and India’s spinners are nothing like what we will be facing in England. Surely it’s getting too late for many more changes. Watson needs runs. His recent test batting record would see any other player dropped. And it looks like we will continue with having our best two batsmen at 5 & 6. Jimmy Anderson & co will be licking their lips.
An entertaining day’s play played while everyone was at work. While prime time Friday night viewing was an awful game between the Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Renegades at the soulless Sydney Olympic Stadium. A small crowd watching several no-name players with a few stars. Murali looked much more dangerous than any of the Sri Lankan Test bowlers. While Chris Gayle is undoubtedly a draw card in the T20 form, why are we bothering with a nearly 38 year old Azhar Mahmood who had a moderate career for Pakistan and who would draw no-one through the gate. If he was playing in my backyard I’d draw the curtains shut. Both teams full of players who can’t get a game for their state team. While to an extent I regard myself as a traditionalist, let’s get the ball right and play Test cricket at night. If the last session went from 7-9pm it would give us some decent cricket at a decent viewing hour, instead of watching contrived teams full of nobodies wearing ridiculous colours playing bad cricket.