Boxing Day has turned into training day as the Australians made light work of a sad Sri Lankan team.
The Australian bowling foursome of Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Jackson Bird and Nathan Lyon, was made to look like a durable and destructive attack at the MCG.
Yet, what is the fantasy and reality of the current state of the Australian cricket team are two different things.
If we strip back the fact that Sri Lanka have “test team” status, this series is a nonevent and has little consequence on the future makeup of the Australian Test team. Cricket Australia’s willingness to rest bowlers only reinforce the insignificance of this summer.
Of Sri Lanka’s seven top order batsmen, five are competent One Day cricketers. Captain Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are the two obvious class acts. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, the skipper hasn’t been able to threaten so far, which has left Sangakkara, who is underrated by some in Australia, to burden the weight of a young and immature team.
In fact, Sangakkara’s 58 demonstrated how batting friendly the Melbourne pitch really is and how bland Australia’s bowling is.
Sangakkara’s teammates’ dismissals wreaked of over-exposure to the shorter versions of the game. Despite, the now 10,000 run getter eventually holding out to Australia’s Johnson, he dominated Johnson with little fluster. Johnson’s 4/63 will keep him in Australia’s fast bowling rotation but his performance will not concern Alistair Cook and his men. While Sri Lanka only have Sangakkara, England have four elite batsmen. Johnson showed today that he can shock the B-graders but he cannot bowl consistently well to worry the elite bats.
South Africa and England have proved that they can only be beaten through ruthlessly consistent bowling and bold batting. Johnson’s still wild and hit and miss approach will not cut it against the best two nations in the world.
Australia might need to disband with the conventional three pace and one spin attack and instead, embark upon a four pace attack with support from Shane Watson’s mediums, Michael Clarke’s off-spinners and Dave Warner’s leggies. Spinner Lyon’s predictability makes him an ineffective test bowler.
Then there is Australia’s batting which needs immediate reconfiguration.
Warner looks set to be in the Baggy Green for the long haul, meanwhile, Australian selectors should follow Ian Chappell’s tune by axing Ed Cowan. All seems rosy when Warner is blitzing an attack and Cowan is playing Robin but if Warner goes cheaply, Cowan is lost at sea. With only one century to his name in 11 matches, Cowan’s spot at the top has expired.
The so called rejuvenated Phil Hughes is not equipped to tackle the English as even Angelo Matthews’ medium pace posed problems for him when Matthews locked in on his body.
Perhaps, astonishingly, the English cricket team will be more buoyed by today’s performance than the team that handed the demolition job, Australia.