2nd Test Sri Lanka v Australia Day 4

For those not au fait with cricket’s more obscure global locations, the neutral observer might better associate the “City of Kandy” with say, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, or one of Heath Ledger’s more low-budget arthouse productions. As nightclub names go, it wouldn’t look out of place on King Street either.

Kandy is located slap-bang in the middle of Sri Lanka, a country whose tourism is better known for their beautiful coastal resorts, as sampled by “Nunawading’s very own” Marvin Vaas in the first test at Galle.

The Pallekalle stadium venue is situated some way out of town, and only recently built to satisfy the 2011 World Cup organisers. Kandy’s other venue, the rurally quaint Asgiriya stadium, and scene of Sri Lanka’s only victory over Australia, is now a relic of Test cricket past.

As per the West Indies updating their infrastructure for the 2007 World Cup, from afar, such a modern venue looks a little out of place in what we’d deem an “exotic” cricketing location. Perhaps it takes away some of the romance we previously associated with such locales? We’ll take our intrepid correspondent Bob Utber’s word for it as a breathtakingly beautiful ground, but as a TV viewer, the empty new grandstand provides an underwhelming backdrop half the time. But Bob’s obviously benefiting from a great view of that lush mountainous greenery all day!

As we enter the fourth day at Pallekalle, your author’s viewing of proceedings have faced intense competition. Spring racing, footy finals, US Open tennis replays, Rugby World Cup, entertaining a german shepherd, and naturally, the good wife wresting away the remote. Despite my protestations, the action in Kandy has proved no match for Renovators.

On Day 3, during a rare “remote in grasp” stanza, I was poised to witness twin Sandgroper tons. Shaun Marsh on debut, and the renaissance man M.J.Hussey. Uniquely, both were 98 not out when the fifth at Moonee Valley approached. TVN beckoned.

“It’s only a sprint race, couple of minutes, she’ll be right, I’ll be back in time”.

After then watching the bonnie mare Kulgrinda struggle on the fence from barrier one (follow her again next start), I flicked back to Kandy where the score ticker read “Marsh 100, Hussey 101”. Their mid-pitch celebrations, and that of proud father G.R. Marsh in the stands, already run and won. Pulled the wrong rein there.

Heading into day 4, the general consensus had the Aussies finishing the job – if those regular poor light disruptions, and the odd monsoon, could hold off long enough.

But with the pitch flattening out to “tennis ball and concrete” proportions, the locals dug in, chasing down Australia’s 237 run lead. The score ticked along at a pace more suitable to Sydney WFA racing. A day for patience and survival. Only the purest of the pure Test cricket fans would be found glued to each ball. The twitter hashtag “#AusvSL” was in no danger of trending.

Ryan Harris finally upsets the resilient opening stand, with Hussey snapping a sharp catch to dismiss Dilshan. Rhino’s physique seems apt for September – the big unit would look comfortably at home patrolling the goal square in a suburban footy league Grand Final.

Sangakkara and Paranavitana then continue to plod along, playing for time, closing the deficit.

Michael Clarke, whose popularity curve may have turned following some impressive captaincy thus far, throws the ball to “that man again” M.J.Hussey.

With Haddin up at the stumps (he of ye’ olde’ world facial dimensions), Hussey rolls in with Chris Harris type charm, but flings it in quicker. On his fifth delivery, the troops are up and about appealing for an ambitious caught behind. No appeal from Hussey.  The verdict – not out.

Unconvinced, M.J. Clarke calls for the tape. The decision is overturned. Paranavitana – gorn.

As per his first over heroics in the Galle test, Hussey again upends a significant top order partnership.

And just as Dominic Beirne is to horseracing analysis, M.J. Clarke is starting to look every inch the Edward De Bono lateral thinking genius of cricket captaincy.

Jayawardene joins Sangakkara as they slowly eat away at Australia’s lead. The Foxtel coverage cuts away to all manner of yawning, snoring and snoozing – both players and supporters. The dark clouds continue to hover above Bob Utber’s head.

In the commentary box Tony Greig again plays travel show host. This proves somewhat tricky in between rapid-fire Nathan Lyon deliveries. On this occasion, “Getaway with Greigy” is spruiking the fishing village of Jaffna in the far north of Sri Lanka. There’s some lovely footage of a pink-shirted, panama hat clad A.W.Greig perusing the periodicals section of the Jaffna library. He notes the locals have a “yearning for learning”.

As expected, bad light ends play as the telecast cuts to Lords, bathed in sunshine for an England v India ODI. “We ain’t in Kandy anymore, Toto”.

With Sri Lanka’s two big guns Jayawardene and Sangakkara at the crease, and now just 14 runs adrift of Australia’s first innings score, some early strikes (and non-monsoonal weather) will be vital to ensure this won’t trickle to a drawn result.

The onset of the new ball will give the Aussies hope of an early breakthrough. The Sri Lankan middle and lower order have been a touch overawed thus far, the wickets may start rolling when one of these two fall over.

And if all else fails, just throw the ball to M.J.Hussey.


  1. Sounds like the going in your living room was as tough as on the pitch DD.

    Just what the world was crying out for- travel tips from Tony.

  2. M Clarke throwing the ball to Hussey is precisely what Ponting didn’t do often enough. As they often say, its not rocket surgery. If things aren’t working out change it up a little.

  3. What about Greigy’s appeal on a bump ball and highlighting the wrong family as Jayasuriya’s?

  4. Foxtel should have used Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” as the highlights package song for this match.

    Another marketing opportunity missed.

  5. The beauty of being at the ground is that we can get the “juicy bits” other the Lion on the line’s comments that obviously have hit DD’s wall back home.
    Forget about the crowds the scenery would have the likes of Renoir, Van Gogh and the great football man Rogers sallivating. The game itself is secondary to the beauty now that the cats have won again

    Bob The Cat

  6. david butler says

    Off topic but you mentioned Dominic Beirne and I recall being at Randwick in 1985when he got off his stand to walk around rattling the ring by backing Tristarc at 5 to 2 to win the Caulfield Cup which she duly did !

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