In 3 days one can get over early week blues, one can receive an interstate package, a house can become as dirty as it was before the cleaners came, and the Australian cricket team can put any doubts over its capabilities to rest.
In the space of just 3 days, I can barely remember the excitement of seeing Shane Warne roll over his shoulders preparing to come into the attack, or the amazement at Glenn McGrath’s figures, or even the sheer enjoyment of watching Justin Langer play another classy stroke. This void has been quickly filled with excitement at a new Australia. Not all the players are young guns, but the player’s surviving the not-so-aptly titled, ‘Dad’s Army,’ of the 5-0 Ashes victory, are refreshed, and many of the middle aged players have grown in maturity.
Already, Sri Lanka is on the ropes, at 2/80 in their following on 2nd innings after a brilliant performance from the Aussies with both bat and ball. It began with new opener Phil Jaques’ maiden test century, and continued with shows of improvement and increased maturity from Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds. The middle order continues to improve, and with no shakeups since the New Years Test between Australia and England, they appear to be ready to help out the less settled opening pair with solid contributions.
The bowling attack was always going to be an interesting and exciting one to watch, and they did not disappoint, bowling out the Lankans with ease, Brett Lee spearheading the attack with his typical pace and flamboyant style, and taking full advantage of the conditions, despite the fact that they were beginning to improve. Mitchell Johnson looked impressive on debut, opening the bowling with Lee, with great pace and swing causing trouble for the Sri Lankan batsmen, and Stuart Clark was dangerous and accurate as ever. Stuart MacGill, the new spinner, battled hard and despite only one wicket, MacGill seems to still be a good bowler. On the other hand only Muralidaran seemed to contribute, and he was over-bowled to the extent that his two wickets could not do too much.
The match seems to be ready to be wrapped up tomorrow, with Sri Lanka ruing their decision to play ‘Give me a tonking’ Fernando ahead of ‘Slinger’ Malinga. As for the controversial Jayasuriya decision, it looked out to me. Sri Lanka have bigger issues than that, as does their coach Trevor Bayliss, who might be missing the relative calmness of his old job in Sydney by the end of this series. Much awaits to be seen tomorrow, with the Aussies, who have in the past struggled with the follow on decision, attempting to fnish things a day early.