Mike Hussey’s Final Farewell
Sri Lanka’s Tour Of Australia 2012-13 has, atleast so far, proceeded according to expectations. After a disappointing start to their summer where they failed to win a test in the series against No. 1 ranked South Africa, Australia then made up for that by picking on yet another away-allergic Sri Lankan touring team. After putting up more of a fight than India did in the first test, Sri Lanka then faded away- despite Sangakkara’s lone effort in the middle- to lose the series 3-0, still owning boasting rights over a stronger Indian team that lost 4-0.But then, no Sri Lankan team has EVER beaten Australia in a test match- home or away. Nothing was about to change anytime soon, with only a handful of players experienced in such conditions. It is common knowledge that Sri Lanka have always been one of the better limited-over teams in the world, but leave a lot to be desired in Whites, especially overseas- where their record is as dismal as a Bangladesh or a West Indies over the last 15 years.
Clint McKay, Australia’s deceiver-in-chief
The 5-match ODI series between these two young teams, in severe transition, was destined to be far more competitive. An Australian cricket team that played, for the first time in years, without Ponting or Hussey or Clarke, started their first ODI with T20 captain George Bailey as Captain in only his 13th ODI game at Melbourne. Phil Hughes, much riled for his many comebacks in test cricket, now donned the Australian colours for the first time in his career- and duly went on to show Australian Cricket what they were missing out on in limited-overs cricket. His century, combined with Bailey’s brilliant 89, helped an energetic young Aussie team (without Watson or Warner either- with names not many would recognize) maul a clueless Lankan team by 130 runs. The ODI series seemed to have a whiff of inevitability about it already.
But this next-gen Aussie team, as capable it is of moments of inspiration, has still not learned to achieve sustained brilliance or consistency through a game, forget an entire series of matches. Hence, at Adelaide, the team woke up on the other side of the bed, and showed why they have a long way to go to achieve that those bygone levels of intimidation. Bundled out for 170, with only Haddin showing some fight, Sri Lanka turned the tables on them with Thirimanne scoring his first ODI century to win by 8 wickets. A massive margin. Another one-sided match.
Sri Lanka’s next gen arrives, temporarily
At Brisbane, it is difficult to predict which Australian side will show up. It is less about Sri Lanka playing brilliant cricket- they’re sticking to the basics- and more about what Bailey and his boys decide to do. Luckily for them, the management has woken up and decided to scrap the ridiculous rotation policy- by bringing back Clarke, Warner and Wade, three crucial cogs of the transitional wheel. It is bad enough having to survive without Mike Hussey and Ponting, and putting in a domestic ODI team to ‘skim the waters’ in a harmless bilateral series makes sense, but not at the cost of victory. Australia need to win everything there is to win against a limping Lankan team, in order to gain as much confidence as they can before touring India- another team struggling to achieve any sort of consistency in all forms of the game.
For now, though, the post-Hussey-Ponting era is well and truly underway. Things don’t look too bad, yet.