Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Clarke and, yet again, Hussey bat Sri Lanka out of match and series: T3D5
Australia 316 & 488 (138.5 ov, Hughes 126, Clarke 112, Hussey 93, Herath 7/157) drew with Sri Lanka 473 & 0/7 ( 2 ov): T3D5 at Colombo (SSC). Australia win series 1-0 and retain Warne-Muralitharan Trophy.
A not unexpected match result after five days and a good series win for Australia (though not one I'd expected).
When Phil Hughes was out early for 126/220b (1x6, 16x4), Sri Lanka may have sniffed an unlikely victory in the air. But Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey dispelled any such thoughts by batting to lunch and then more than an hour beyond, adding 176 from 38 overs, until at 396 and the match saved Clarke was out. His 112/178b (3x6, 14x4) was his highest score for some time, and made in a refreshingly forthright way. This and his 60 in T1 at Galle should silence those who've doubted that he's worth a place in the team (or who've sneered at him dropping himself to no5).
And Mr Cricket. Dismissed for his second ninety of the series, 93/138b (1x6, 11x4), the most consistent and most effective (cf Angelo Mathews) batsman on either side (493 runs), an excellent fielder and, by virtue of two wickets, top of the bowling averages. Unquestionably Player of the Series and deservedly Player of this Match.
Sri Lanka plugged away (or tried to plug the gaps in the field) . With only one frontline spinner they lacked the kind of firepower needed to keep the pressure on Australia. Even so Rangana Herath's herculean 52-11-157-7 shouldn't go unmentioned or unappreciated. He did well to regroup, admittedly on what was a more favourable pitch, after an ordinary performance in the first innings.
So Australia are now the fourth ranked Test nation in the world. In the coming months their opponents will include the higher ranked South Africa (in a piddling two match away series) and India (four Tests at home). Interesting, though after the Sri Lanka series more hopeful, times perhaps.
PS Interesting to hear (and see) ABC commentator Jim Maxwell filling in for Tony Greig on the coverage from Sri Lanka. He did a good job and showed, as if it needed to be, that high level cricket experience is not an essential requirement for the job.