Australia v Sri Lanka, Second Test – Day 1: Aussie ton drought breaks

Walked down to the ground this morning with great expectations of what will be an historical test match.

Must say that the new Press Box is magnificent and covers the majority of the northern end of the ground. The ability to see the whole ground without any interruption is brilliant and I dare say that this is one of the best boxes I have ever been in.  far better than Perth for example and Kardinia Park.

The ground itself is looking superb and walking around before the start of play to me one can see the anticipation f the Canberrians for a successful match.  After all they are up against Brisbane and Hobart as a venue for Tests and other major games in the future.

The Jack Fingleton scoreboard stands out from a time well past.  The former Melbourne Cricket Ground scoreboard looks like it has always been part of this ground.  Fingleton himself was an interesting character. A former opening batsman, contemporary of Bradman, but certainly not a friend, spent his real life in the media centre of the Canberra press gallery.

Surrounded by trees with mountains in the background it could be mistaken for anywhere in England. A beautiful setting indeed.

There is a tinge of green in the pitch, the weather is overcast and Tim Paine wins the toss for only the second time in his tenure and bats.  It would have been good to see the Australians bowl and in particular Richardson but you don’t send the opposition in on such a good wicket.

Harris (11) plays a flashy drive unwarranted at Fernando and only succeeds in lobbing the ball into the arms of Chaminka at silly mid-on.  Australia 1/11. Langer will no doubt have a few words to say to the young man.

Khawaja (0) plays tentatively at Fernando and Mendis (he has good hands) takes it easily at second slip.  Khawaja’s poor form continues and he must now be seriously looked at as far as holding down number 3 or even his place in the team.

The bowlers are certainly testing the batsmen with their good line and length.

First change Karunaratne has Labuschagne fending tentatively at his first ball, four runs but then he is tentative three balls later and is well taken by Dickwella.  Labuschagne out for six and Australia reeling at  3/26 and their Achilles heel are certainly showing out this morning.

If selectors were feeling slightly contented before the start of play, they will now once again be firmly ensconced in their padded cells looking for solutions.  This is the first time I have mentioned it but oh for a Smith and oh for a Warner.  At least that has now been made much easier for them to select the miscreants after March.

Has anyone noticed that the Australians are wearing creams the traditional colours for test teams? In fact I believe we are the only test nation now wearing traditional gear.

Well, the first hour definitely belonged to the visitors.

Burns and Head are now settling in.  Head is now confident he belongs and is not feeling too constrained in his work while Burns is picking the bad ball and dealing with it.  Sr Lanka’s moment of glory might have just passed.

Their 50 partnership comes from 72 balls so they’re are taking the game to their opposition. Burns has a life and is dropped at slip trying to cut Perera.  It would prove very costly. Two superb square cuts shortly after is proof.

Also noticed that there are not as many orange shirt interventions today compared with the Indian series. Good stuff.

At lunch Australia 3/103 with Burns on 46 and Head on 39.  The two batsmen had put the home side back in the game.

It had puzzled me why there was a second fence inside the normal arena fencing and then I worked it out.  It was put there so that ground advertising could be displayed right around the ground.  Have to make sure our sponsors get their monies worth!

A few quiet overs after lunch and the batsmen started moving into their task.  Burns’ with his square strokes was playing them majestically and brought up his 50 (86 balls) with a lovely square cut. Head followed next over from 72 balls.

The batsmen are in compete control and an Australian century is in the offering. The first of this long summer.  The century partnership comes from 140 balls.

Some fine stroke making from both players now as Sri Lanka continue to swap the bowlers around in an endeavour to get a break through. Fernando comes on and bowls short to Burns who pulls it through mid-wicket for four.  Its easy pickings for the batsmen.

Both players are nearing their centuries and this is a big moment for Australian cricket. Usman Khwaja was the last century maker against Pakistan when he made 149 and now he is struggling to hold his spot in the team.

Burns takes the cap with the two spinners now operating. Suddenly he is flashing and missing a sign that something big is around the corner but not if he keeps playing like that.  They say that the hardest part in playing golf is the five and a half inches between each ear and somehow I think it is for cricketers when they are nearing a century.  Head is closing in on him as well.

Now he is back in the helmet. He goes to 99 with another fine pull shot from a short ball. This is his most competent stroke today although his cutting is not far behind. A quick single and there it is a fine innings indeed. 100 from 147 balls with strokes all around the wicket.

Australian batsmen have gone to the wicket on 111 occasions for no centuries before Burns registered his fourth ton.

Australia go to tea 3/220 with Burns 107 and Head 91 in complete control.  De Silva from 6 overs has 0/11 and tried to stem the flow from the Australian batsmen.

Sri Lanka have applied intensity as Head heads towards his maiden century. It has been an innings of great application by the South Australian captain and one that has secured his place in the Australian team for some time. He superbly drives Perara through mid-wicket to reach his maiden test ton from 152 balls with 14 fours.

The two batsmen just continue on their merry way and they have the bowling at their mercy.  Head has become the more attacking player and reaches 150 from 193 balls. The last 50 runs from 43 balls.  There is nothing in the wicket for the bowlers and the fielding has become very lethargic with players diving here and there to no avail in an attempt to curtail runs.

With 13 overs left before the day ends Australia will be in a commanding position at stumps despite the conditions that have been overcast all day and should have favoured the bowling side.

The last hour has been as interesting as a Bill and ScoMo bus tour unless you were relatives and friends of the two batsmen.

At last a wicket as Head tries to turn Fernando to leg and is plumb.  I think he was just a bit tired, a lazy shot.  161 wonderful runs with 21 fours and 1 six. Australia 4/330.

There is a rumour going around that the two batsmen are going to take the wicket with them wherever they play such has been their dominance over the bowlers.

Patterson should have been out before he had scored when short leg dropped a simple catch much to the frustration of his team.

Sri Lana had got of to a wonderful start this morning but the further the day went the worse they become with the catching deplorable for an international team.

The lights are on but it has not stopped the batsmen from attacking but the new ball does as the bowlers are worn out and pitching up outside the off stump.  They have had enough.

The crowd is posted at 8556 which would please the local organisers as there was not much “glamour” associated with this match other than the “first ever”.

Patterson plays the shot of the day late in the afternoon when he hooks Rajitha for a magnificent six. The wicket is dead easy.

At stumps Australia 4/384 after being 3/44 at one stage, so after that they lost 1/340. A marvellous effort by Joe Burns 172 not out and an impressive cameo from Patterson (25) after his early miss.  There are plenty of runs in this wicket and Australia should build up a big score tomorrow before what we believe will be a record crowd.

What have we learnt?  Very little as Sri Lanka did go into the match with their second string attack but we did learn that Australia are very vulnerable against the swinging ball.


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About Bob Utber

At 84 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he has always done since growing up on a small farm at Lang Lang. Talking, watching and writing sport and in recent years writing books. He lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny) and a groodle named 'Chloe on Flinders' and can be found at Deakin 27 every day.




  2. Finally a day where I didn’t nod off at any stage. Harris and Kahawaja out to silly shots especially the latter and must have an asterisk by his name. Burns and Head batted beautifully although the pitch lost its fire and no bowler could find any swing. Hopefully when we get to bowl, sometime in day 2, let’s hope our chaps, especially Starc, attack the stumps and not give Paine plenty of diving practice. Last test you would think he was trialing for the Olympics in the diving team.

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