Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Pallekele – Day 1: Frontier psychiatrist

Sri Lanka 117 (DM de Silva 24, JR Hazlewood 3/21, NM Lyon 3/12)
Australia 2/66


“Lie down on the couch.
What does that mean?
You’re a nut!
You’re crazy in the coconut…”
Frontier Psychiatrist, The Avalanches



“Where are we now?”
“Test cricket in July? Must be England.”
“No mate. Look at that foliage. That’s not England.”
“No, you’re right. It’s Sri Lanka.”
“What are we doing in Sri Lanka in July? Isn’t that monsoon season?”
“Has there been any narrative around this tour?”
“No mate – it’s all about filling a TV schedule. What would we care about context?”
“Just bowl the ball.”


“Who are these blokes?”
“See if you recognise any names: 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Kaushal Silva, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews (captain), 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Kusal Perera, 8 Rangana Herath, 9 Dilruwan Perera, 10 Nuwan Pradeep, 11 Lakshan Sandakan.”
“Well there are three front line spinners there and only one quick. Do you remember our side from the New Zealand series?”
“Remind me.”
“1 David Warner, 2 Joe Burns, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steven Smith (capt), 5 Adam Voges, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Peter Nevill (wk), 8 Steve O’Keefe, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood.”
“And what are we playing here? The Waugh-Gillespie facial fracture trophy?”
“Ahh, not sure. Two Tests, though.”


“Sri Lanka win the toss and bat.”
“So that’s that. Game over.”
“Maybe – let’s see.”


“Decent start from yer Starc and Hazlewood. No swing yet though.”
“Australians don’t swing as a rule; too conservative.”
”Still, good areas.”


“Here’s Starc with the first wicket already.”
“The full one after the bouncer barrage.”
“That one swung back in. He’s reviewing it. But that’s plumb.”

FDM Karunaratne lbw b MA Starc 5      1/6 (4.1 overs)


“Here’s Kusal Mendis.”
“Whack. Likes to play his shots.”

BKG Mendis lbw b Hazlewood 8      2/14 (5.3 overs)


“Chandimal now. Usually falls to him to hold the innings together.”
“Does it?”
“With MA Starc resting after a four over spell, it’s SNJ O’Keefe into the attack for the ninth over.”
“Hazlewood continues with that McGrath line.”
“Got him. First slip.”

JK Silva c AC Voges b JR Hazlewood 4       3/18 (9.1 overs)


“Here’s the skipper, Mathews, to try and salvage something with Chandimal.”
“Starc back on.”

“Runs coming now. Starc just missing those yorkers.”
“It’s broken kettle stuff, isn’t it? Leaky and dangerous.”
“SOK throwing it up, now.”
“Good lad. Hello!”

AD Mathews c SPD Smith b SNJ O’Keefe 15     4/43 (14.2 overs)


“Ooh, love that. Caught him in two minds, edged to slip.”
“Hell of a time for Dhananjaya de Silva to make his Test debut.”
“Four close fielders.”
“He survives it. Good lad.”

“Starc is peppering Chandimal here with bouncers.”
“That’s alright. But what about the gob? Get back and bowl, you peanut.”


“DdS off the mark with a six over mid-off. Hello Test cricket.”
“These two looking to hold on til lunch.”
“You’re a genius.”
“Hazlewood bowls well, doesn’t he? Not fast, but well-directed.”
“It’s a wonder D Lehmann selects him.”
“Got him.”

LD Chandimal c PN Nevill b JR Hazlewood 15     5/67 (25.6 overs)


“Here’s MDKJ Perera. And it’s NM Lyon replacing SNJ O’Keefe.
“Not out – good lbw shout, though.”
“Thanks. Australia review it – still not out. Big inside edge.”

“Whack. Cop that Josh.”
“Whack. And that. Not shy about approaching lunch, are they?”


LUNCH 5/84 (DM de Silva 24, MDKJ Perera 12)


“Imagine this as a health check on the status of Test cricket.”
“You’d draw a curtain; put it down.”
“You’d have to.”
“Some argue that Test cricket is in rude health.”
“The criminally insane.”


“And so NM Lyon starts up after lunch.”
“Oh, FFS.”
“Second ball of the session.”

DM de Silva lbw b NM Lyon 24       6/87  (28.2 overs)


“Here’s Dilruwan Perera. Last of the batsmen.”
“Oh, FFS. Missed a full one. Playing back.”

MDK Perera lbw b NM Lyon 0        7/87   (28.4 overs)


“Starc from the other end. Licking his chops.”
“Lyon going well, too.”
“Oh no, he’s left a straight one.”

MDKJ Perera b NM Lyon 20       8/94   (30.2 overs)




“Look at Starc here. So predictable; short short short full.”
“Not given. You can’t hit it and be lbw.”
“Australia review that.”
“Toe first. That’s plumb.”
“Look at all those initials.”

HMRKB Herath lbw MA Starc 6     9/100   (31.6 overs)


“Sandakan will open his shoulders here.”
“Hope so.”
“And he’s going nicely.”
“But can’t protect Pradeep forever.”

N Pradeep c SPD Smith b SNJ O’Keefe 0     10/117  (34.2 overs)

PADLR Sandakan not out 19


“Fking terrible batting.”
“Imagine if you’d paid to get there.”
“Or even paid for Foxtel.”


MA Starc 11-1-51-2
JR Hazlewood 10-4-21-3
SNJ O’Keefe 10.2-3-32-2
NM Lyon 3-0-12-3



“This kills cricket, really, this kind of abject display.”
“It could yet be a tense, low-scoring classic.”
“Well, look at DA Warner, there.”
“You could hold a conference in that gap.”
“Why would you be driving that, anyway?”


DA Warner b Pradeep 0   1/3   (2.2 overs)


“Here’s Khawaja.”
“He’ll chase the total himself.”
“He might have to.”


JA Burns b Herath 3   2/7   (3.6 overs)


“Skipper in.”
“This will be interesting.”
“Wristy flick for 3. Good start. Good feet.”


“UT Khawaja and SPD Smith finding the spinners now.”
“Runs coming.”
“Patient batting.”


TEA 2/66 (UT Khawaja 25*, SPD Smith 28*)


“How’s that health check going?”
“Looking up local euthanasia laws; hold on.”

“Now, THAT’S rain.”
“Is that the monsoon arriving?”
“Could be. No more play today, anyway.”
“Extraordinary scenes.”
“It’s cricket, Jim, but not as we know it.”
“You got that right.”



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About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and likes to walk around feeling generally amazed. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Mark Duffett says

    I just love this style of report. I’ll take it over the Foxtel subscription, thanks very much.

  2. E.regnans says

    Ahh, thanks M Duffet.
    It’s a strange world of communications that the market has built.

  3. Truth is, Sri Lankans have never embraced Test Cricket. They’ve never packed in a stadium in all the years they’ve played. Good team over the years, though. This one had been decimated by injuries (I think their top 4 pace bowlers are injured.)

    Here’s how I see the support for Test cricket around the globe:

    Australia: rude health
    England: rude health
    New Zealand: on penicillin
    India: on a drip
    South Africa: on a drip
    The rest: in an induced coma

  4. Rulebook says

    OBP I forgot the test match was being played until on face book there was a banner with the immortal words that,Even Sri Lanka hate Port Adelaide( fair enough 2 ) made me remember to check the score.
    Glad to see, OKeefe do well has been a consistent shield performer over a long period of time.
    Warner not deemed fit enough coming back from a broken thumb to play the warm up game but is fit enough a few days later to play a test match.What happened to the rule you had to play a game before hand to prove your fitness or is that selective mmm ( and yes the weather may be more of a problem than the opposition) Hank’s,OBP

  5. Paddy Grindlay says

    Sri Lankan cricket is summed up by constant dismissals and infinite initials. My personal favourite was Amunugama Rajapakse Rajakaruna Abeykoon Panditha Wasalamudiyanse Ralahamilage Rajitha Krishantha Bandara Amunugama, or A.R.R.A.P.W.R.R.K.B Amunugama. Decent medium pacer in Colombo. With thanks to Wisden.
    Love it e.r. Keep it coming.

  6. Thanks E.r. I do enjoy these style of reports.

    I always thought the lowpoint in sporting scheduling was the 1999 NYE pre-season game between Carlton and Collingwood (I think) in which Fev kicked a bag; not without irony, given the attendant festivities of December 31. But Test cricket during a monsoon! That, as you might pen, is yer contemporary ICC.

    Paddy- that is a magnificent handle. The sort of name Skull would commit to memory and recite when required!

  7. Brilliant, e.r., and so topical and appropriate in the wake of the release of “Wildflower”.
    16 years between drinks? That is twice the length of the Beatles recording career!

    I saw the “Frontier Psychiatrist” clip on Rage last Saturday – seriously, the chemical enhancements they induced whilst making that clip must have been mind-altering in the extreme. But I love it.

    Re the cricket: Sri Lanka were very very poor at the crease. Some just were not up to it, whilst others batted like it was white ball. Hazlewood was excellent: full, accurate, and with a hint of outswing.
    Warner looked rusty – who would have thunk it (despite all the baloney about how he bats well when he has not batted for ages!) The jury is out on J Burns: the groundsman could almost have driven the heavy roller through that gap between bat and pad.

  8. off crook and just saw Herath say he is finishing short form to focus on tests. he is my man!

    Smith needs your shrink. He thinks he is Kim Hughes 1980-1. Terrible stuff from the skipper.

  9. E.regnans says

    G’day all. Thanks for these.
    Frank K – I’m not sure about Test cricket being in rude health in Australia. The Brisbane and Perth Tests last summer were not well patronised. Adelaide’s was, but then, people go to watch every kind of event in Adelaide. Hobart’s (cold, wet), Melbourne’s and Sydney’s (rain) were hardly stand-out attendances. As for TV viewers, the butchering of thoughtful coverage by Ch9 has left many disenfranchised, and choosing to do other things with their leisure time.
    T20 is another matter (and another game).

    OBP – I forgot, too. A real failure of the story-tellers on Cricket Australia payroll to get the message out there. This is not an isolated example (Pakistan in UAE). Australia playing a Test match used to be something important. Selection policy inconsistencies nothing new.

    Paddy – thanks – and what a brilliant discovery you’ve made there. Imagine his passport form.

    Mickey – thanks very much. Long-term Sri Lankan climate, though, is a confusing thing, to be fair. They seem to have two monsoon seasons, affecting different parts of the island.
    Sri Lankan Met Service worth a look:
    This Pallekele is almost smack in the middle of the island – so the questions become, does it annually receive both monsoon seasons? or one (which one)? or none?

    Smokie – thanks – Wildflower is a hit with the younger members of our house (Who have loved that Frontier Psychiatrist film clip from very young ages). Impressed with Hazlewood. Nous and accuracy will get more wickets than pace alone.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Great report ER. Sri Lanka clearly struggling at the moment after losing four of their best ever batsmen (two of them absolute superstars) and Angelo Mathews recent form slump after his blistering batting during the first 18 months of his captaincy.
    Hazelwood has become a wonderful Test match bowler in all conditions.

  11. charlie brown says

    Great report David. Loved reading it. Agree with others that your format allows you to be succinct, entertaining, insightful and innovative -all at once!. (i’ve run out of big words).
    Crowd (gathering) numbers shameful.

  12. Ho hum. Well I guess the players need these games to warm up for the T20’s. I hope you are cutting and pasting this stuff from Cricinfo ER. Watching it will send you blind.

  13. Have Sri Lanka only ever beaten us once in a tes?. I was thinking about it last night

    There was the first test in 1992 when we snuck home by 12 runs. Shane Warne picked up 3 for on the last day.. Then of course they beat us in the opening test in 1999 when S Waugh and Gillespie had that horrible collision. is that it >


  14. E.regnans says

    Cheers Luke – big retirements have left a hole, no doubt.
    Interesting to see the capitulation of both batting line-ups here, in pretty good batting conditions.

    Thanks Charlie Brown.

    Peter_B: It seems that more than ever the level of excitement/ marketing/ story of Test cricket has fallen behind T20. Warm ups, indeed. (I haven’t seen a ball bowled – live or replayed).

    Glen: I have no memory for these sorts of things, I’m afraid. Cricinfo must hold all the answers.


    Is the pitch reasonable? After two days with time lost to rain:
    SL 117
    AUS 203
    SL 1/6
    Please explain.

  15. E.regnans says


    Target 268
    Australia 3/83

  16. E.regnans says

    Australia 161,
    Sri Lanka wins by 106 runs.

    love it.
    Three Test series (not two).

    frontier psychiatrist.

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