Good signs in Galle. To be confirmed in Kandy?


The positive signs that were evident during the one-day series were on show again during last week’s morale-boosting Test win in Galle, and, despite the loss of Ricky Ponting, the Aussies will head into Thursday’s second Test in Kandy in buoyant spirits.

Michael Clarke couldn’t have hoped for a better start to his permanent leadership campaign. His team has been up and about for a month, and the negativity and lack of belief that was so apparent during the Ashes has now all but disappeared. Besides, we are playing an opponent who is middle-of-the-road in most aspects of its game and totally devoid of decent leadership.

New players are always a good addition to a team when it wins, and so it was in Galle. But the real match-winners were the batsmen who were most responsible for our admirable totals in both innings  –   Michael Hussey, Clarke and Ponting  –   and the bowlers who made the most incisive inroads into the Sri Lankan batting when it really counted. Those bowlers were Shane Watson with his superb spell that decimated Sri Lanka’s middle order in the first innings, and Ryan Harris, who was magnificent in the second innings.

There is no doubt that Nathan Lyon showed good signs in terms of flight, turn and temperament, but there should be no illusions about his first innings 5-wicket performance. He dismissed Kumar Sangakarra with a brilliant delivery, but his other four wickets were tail enders slogging in despair. In the second innings he was wicketless until the final delivery of the match, and this was on the most spin-friendly wicket in memory  –  certainly not Adelaide or the Gabba.

Trent Copeland provided the most important ingredient that Clarke would have hoped from him  –  control and dot balls  –  but his method and execution, despite the outstanding rewards they have reaped in his brief first class career (nearly 100 wickets in 19 matches) look to have limitations at Test level in normal conditions. For now he’ll provide breathing space before the likes of Peter Siddle are unleashed on livelier wickets.

The Sri Lankans are a mish-mash of a team in many respects. The class of many of its batsmen is obvious from their records, and its two pace bowlers used in Galle, Lakmal and Welegadara, are certainly not the worst. But skipper Tillekeratne Dilshan, for all his unorthodox brilliance with the bat, is a destabilising influence with Afridi-like irrationality in his approach. One senses that leadership doesn’t sit comfortably with him.

Clarke’s boys have the air of Ponting’s team that unexpectedly beat South Africa away from home a few years ago. They seem galvanised by an excellent touring spirit, and look to be up for a fight. This Thursday’s Test will answer a couple of questions : are things on the up, or have we been temporarily misled? On the evidence so far it’s definitely the former.





  1. The big question for me: What to do about M Johnson ?

  2. A question that I have, Brendan, amongst all the staff turnover, is why Langer (JL as he wants to be known!) still has the batting job. Other than being upbeat, permanently online and “well connected”, what impact has he made as a coach? I’d suggest a fail grade and he should be flicked ASAP!…and never allowed on radio please.

  3. Early signs are convincing…Sri Lanka 3/14 after 8!

  4. Damo Balassone says:

    Great start by Harris and Copeland, but has Marsh truly earnt his selection here? He has a first class average of 37 and (I thought) was merely a one-day prospect. Don’t understand it.

  5. maybe you’ll need to blog with JL!
    8/162 now.

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