Sri Lanka v Australia – 3rd Test, Colombo, Day 3: Sri Lankan Dead Rubber Factory

Sri Lanka 355 (LD Chandimal 132, DM de Silva 129, MA Starc 5-63, NM Lyon 3-110)
Australia 379 (SE Marsh 130, SPD Smith 119, HMRKB Herath 6-81)
Sri Lanka 1/22

Sri Lanka trail by 2 runs with 9 wickets remaining



The major source of natural rubber is the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). The Sri Lankan rubber sector is “the third largest export earner of the country providing over 300,000 direct and indirect job opportunities to Sri Lankans across various professions and walks of life”.


Australia, depite bowling out Sri Lanka for 117 on Day 1 of the First Test, has been comprehensively outplayed in this series. And lost comfortably. Lost the Pallekele Test by 106 runs, the Galle Test by 229 runs.


In Colombo for the third Test, Sri Lanka were 5/26 on the first morning. But knocked up 355 if you don’t mind.


The series, though, is in Dead Hevea brasiliensis territory. Different goggles need to be worn; tea leaf configurations mean different things; all is not as it seems.


Still, there is no finer place for SE Marsh to be recalled (again), to make meaningless runs (again), and thereby shore up his position for the next wee while (again).


At the end of Day 1 in Colombo, Sri Lanka was 5/214. LD Chandimal and DM de Silva were part way through their epic 211 run partnership for the sixth wicket (from 5/26 to 6/237).


On Day 2, Sri Lanka was bowled out for 355. MA Starc with another Michelle Pfeiffer – his third of the (losing) series. Well done him. By stumps Australia had lost only the newly reformed version of the newly reformed DA Warner to be 1/141.


SPD Smith, batting with SE Marsh, represented the last of the recognised batsmen.


On Day 3, SPD Smith thankfully did what he had to do; he made a ton. Somehow or other SE Marsh also got there. (It could be a long-term Sri Lankan – South African ploy). Their 246-run partnership ended at 2/267 ,and the rest of the order folded for a further 112.


Total of 379; a lead of 24. Notch it up on the trunk of the nearest dead Hevea brasiliensis tree.


Sri Lanka had five overs to face. Of course MA Starc got another lbw wicket. (Fourth ball of the innings, full and swinging back, to MDK Perera who had offered no shot).


Honours even then, over three days. With the pitch wearing and a fourth innings chase to be later required by Australia, a Sri Lankan series whitewash is well in play.


The trouble is, even when you pretend that a dead rubber is alive, you only fool some people.




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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. yes dead rubbers used to be the time for blooding young kids with nothing to lose.

    33 years old and even with 180 and 130 in his last dead digs he averages 40. what a waste of an opportunity.

    still, maybe they will drop Place De Vosges now his average is plummeting 5 runs every time he fails?

  2. OBP while I agree with you in theory re dead runners I would have played,S Marsh straight away in this series horses for courses on the sub continent and I wouldn’t have played,Voges in a fit,I would have played,Zampa as well

  3. Have the hosts ever won a three test series, three – zip ? If so it would have only been against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe.

    As it stands , being two nil up means in this series they’ve won twice as many tests against Australia as they did in the thirty three years prior. No matter how you look at it we’ve been woeful in this series. Sure i might not give enough credit to Sri Lanka but when you’re meant to be the number one test nation in the world, you’re expected to be a tad better than insipid.

    Is the way this series panning out simply a reflection of the demise of test cricket, or is Australia so overrated it believes its hype ?


  4. PW- good point re: youngsters. Are you interested in becoming a selector?

    OBP- horses for courses is a great theory. The Sri Lankans have played well in that regard.

    Glen- the players Australia selects play a certain style – one suited to the hard flat pitches and dry heat of Australia. Where the ball doesn’t swing much and only freaks of nature produce consistent turn.
    Excellent home record, shoddy away record.
    If selectors valued away wins, you’d have to think someone on the (very long) Cricket Australia payroll would be creating a PowerPoint presentation concerning this about now.

  5. ER, have the hoss evert had a 3-0 home win prior ?


  6. The only issue on which I will debate you, e.r., is your assertion that honours are even. I would argue that Sri Lanka are on top, given they have 9 wickets in the bank, are almost on even terms, and Australia must bat last. Let us not forget that Australia plummeted from a commanding 1/267 to 379 all out. A chance to build a large first innings lead was again wasted (remember Pallekele?)
    Fair play to S Marsh, he has taken his chance – although where this leaves the XI for the First Test in Australia is anyone’s guess. J Burns is desperately unlucky – it seems that neither runs nor wickets matter when it comes to selecting M Marsh.
    There are a couple of sacred cows – and Warner is the biggest. His dismissal was an act of gross responsibility, and will be excused by him and the powers that be that “that is how he plays”. Well, that is just not good enough.
    Voges has looked in the mirror and seen his mortality, I feel, and seems to be stiffening with every innings. P Nevill was selected on the back of a huge 14/15 Shield season but has looked ordinary with the bat in recent Tests. And Lyon has been most underwhelming.
    This series was a chance to blood a Handscomb and/or Zampa, but instead they selected Henriques, O’Keefe and S Marsh.
    Well played M Starc – a tough but very successful tour of the sub-continent may well be the making of him. The Lankans don’t like facing him, especially early.

  7. The debate is over, Smokie.
    I concede.

    The honours are with Sri Lanka, I agree.
    I should have said that runs-in-the-bank were even.
    It will be interesting to see how a fourth innings chase plays out, if the lead get up around 200-250.

    I agree with all you say. Especially the “that’s how he plays” excuse we will no doubt be sold. It is unthinking, it is inflexible and it fails the basic logic test; given that humans are in fact capable of changing their behaviour.

    Sri Lanka has played this series beautifully. Well done them.

    Glen – No-eyed deer.

  8. e.r.: I question whether indeed David Warner is able to change his behaviour.

  9. Smokie – Does it follow that you are questioning whether D Warner is human?

  10. No, he is human. Not as intelligent as the average human, perhaps.

  11. Peter Flynn says

    Just quickly gone through this thread.

    Sri Lanka definitely on top.

  12. Are you watching from Galway, PJFlynn?
    Or from Copocabana Beach?

  13. D Warner? I came across a golf article recently about Dustin Johnson where a fellow pro said “he’s so thick, light bends around him”. Doesn’t stop him belting the ball a million miles, but is similarly hot and cold.
    SE Marsh? Rulebook rules of course. Paradoxically for a man brought up when the WACA still bounced (RIP) his dead hands make him easily our best player on low turning wickets. His EPL record is terrific. Don’t take him anywhere that the ball bounces, but he is first picked on the sub-continent.
    Thanks for these reports ER. Cricket ranks slightly above rugby league and curling in my sporting pantheon at the moment.

  14. Peter Flynn says

    Back from Galle M Ash where the Galle District Cricket President has just been assassinated.

  15. Great snakes!
    Welcome back – but what terrible tidings.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Ah the dead rubber. Australia were once famous for losing this game after dominating back in our golden era.
    I’ve loved this series. Good for cricket. Sri Lanka were horrible in England, good to see them fight back. Sorted out a few Aussies in sub-contintinental conditions.
    Haven’t been SE Marsh’s biggest fan, like yourself, but thought he batted beautifully in this innings. His gutsy innings against NZ two Test knocks ago at Adelaide was also impressive, but it seems it’s always famine or feast for him.
    Ernie without Bert doesn’t seem right…..

  17. Well day 5 beckons. Will we capitulate ? Can we hold on for a fighting draw? Win;; win ?! I don’t think a side with four specialist batsmen, a side that has batted woefully in this series can win on these pitches.

    I’m happy for a draw to spare us the ignominy of 9 straight losses in the sub continent.


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