Aussies arrive today

A series with no Warne, no Murali

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
No Warne, No Murali. That’s how it’s going to be. Two of the greatest spin bowlers in the history of the game will be missing in the line-up when Australia make their fifth tour of Sri Lanka for a series of three Tests, five One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals.

Muthiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, the two spin kings of their generation, were the focal point in which the last Test series between Sri Lanka and Australia was played in Sri Lanka in 2004. Both spinners vied to become the first to reach the 500th Test wicket mark. The Aussie nosed ahead by getting there first in the first Test played at Galle and Murali emulated him in front of his home crowd at Kandy in the second Test played at Asgiriya. For those who were fortunate enough to witness the three Tests it was a fascinating series where Australia became the first nation to whitewash Sri Lanka in a home Test series 3-0. However the final result doesn’t reflect how closely the Tests were fought out with Sri Lanka leading Australia on the first innings in each of the three Tests, but yet ending on the losing side on all three occasions.

These two kings of spin dominated the Aussie-Lanka Test series for 12 years since 1992 picking up a half-century of wickets apiece and a staggering 1508 wickets between them in Tests in their illustrious career.
The upcoming series promises to be another absorbing contest with both countries going through a period of transition which normally transpires following a World Cup. Australia are under a new captain Michael Clarke who succeeded Ricky Ponting after the latter had failed to defend the Ashes at home as well as the World Cup in the subcontinent. Ponting however will be there as a member of the team Test and ODI sides and will be the oldest (at 36) and the most experienced (with 152 Test and 362 ODI caps). He is the only surviving member of the 2004 side.
Since the retirement of Warne and some of his team-mates who made Australia the No. 1 nation in both Tests and One-Day Internationals, the team’s performances especially in the Tests have dipped in recent years to the extent that they find themselves ranked fifth even below Sri Lanka. Although Australia has managed to hold onto their No. 1 ranking as a one-day side their pride was hurt after a poor World Cup campaign where they failed to get beyond the quarter-finals.

Australia has clearly shown they meant business by naming a Test squad which has four uncapped players in the side in fast bowlers Trent Copeland and James Pattinson, off-spinner Nathan Lyon and middle order bat Shaun Marsh (who is the most experienced of the lot having represented Australia in ODIs and T20Is).
Lyon and left-arm spinner Michael Beer who played in one Ashes Test against England early this year will fight it out for the slow-bowling position while Marsh and Usman Khawaja will battle it out for the number six batting slot.
Australia has retained 10 players from their World Cup squad, the changes being fast bowlers Doug Bollinger and Pattinson, batsman Marsh and spinner Xavier Doherty.
In keeping with the modern times, the Australian team will come to Sri Lanka in three groups. First to arrive today will be their Twenty20 side led by hard hitting all-rounder Cameron White. They are due to play two T20 Internationals at Pallakele on August 6 and 8. They will be followed by the One-Day squad on August 4 and the Test squad on August 16 - both captained by Michael Clarke. The five ODIs is scheduled between August 10 and 22 and the three Tests between August 31 and September 20.

In comparison to all their past four tours to Sri Lanka since 1983, this one will be the longest comprising 55 days. Five of the 25 players chosen in the three different squads will remain for the entire length of the tour namely, vice-captain Shane Watson, wicket-keeper Brad Haddin, fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Pattinson and batsman Marsh – all of them picked to play the three formats.

Aussies are well known for their tough competitiveness, resilience and to fight till the end even against all odds – traits that have made them the No. 1 team in the world, and one which other countries have tried to emulate by hiring coaches from their country. Sri Lanka have since 1995 benefitted immensely by the five Australian coaches who have served them leaving behind a legacy for success in the past 16 years from Dav Whatmore, Bruce Yardley, John Dyson, Tom Moody to Trevor Bayliss. Sri Lanka are currently without a coach for the upcoming series where former Sri Lanka fast bowler Rumesh Ratnayake is standing in as interim coach until Sri Lanka Cricket finds a suitable candidate to succeed Bayliss who quit at the end of the World Cup.
Australian T20 team: Cameron White (captain), Shane Watson (vice-captain), Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin (wk), John Hastings, David Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Stephen O’Keefe, James Pattinson, Steven Smith, David Warner.

Australian LOI team: Michael Clarke (captain), Shane Watson (vice-captain), Doug Bollinger, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin (wk), John Hastings, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Steven Smith.
Australian Test team: Michael Clarke (captain), Shane Watson (vice-captain), Michael Beer, Trent Copeland, Brad Haddin (wk), Ryan Harris, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle.


Broad hat-trick leaves Test in balance

NOTTINGHAM: Stuart Broad took a sensational hat-trick to fire England back into contention on the third day of the second Test against India at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
The tourists were in total control of the match, leading by 46 on 267-4, when Broad dismissed Yuvraj Singh for 62 to break his partnership of 128 with centurion Rahul Dravid.
Then in his next over Broad had Mahendra Dhoni caught in the slips, Harbhajan Singh trapped leg before wicket and Praveen Kumar clean bowled in successive balls to send the crowd at his home ground into delirium.
Broad was the 12th Englishman to take a hat-trick in Test cricket and the first since Ryan Sidebottom in Hamilton in 2008.
Dravid was caught soon afterwards for 116, before Broad removed Ishant Sharma to wrap up the India innings for 288. That wicket gave Broad Test-best figures of 6-46 and completed an astonishing 16-ball spell of five wickets for no runs.
It was a breathless period of play, and all the more remarkable for the fact that Broad was once again the instigator of England’s comeback - the Nottinghamshire all-rounder having struck a rapid 64 to rescue England from 124-8 to 221 all out in their first innings on Friday.
India’s collapse left England 11 overs at the end of the day and they finished up 24-1, 43 runs behind, after Alastair Cook was caught off a leading edge. – [BBC]
Scores: England 221 and 24-1 (11) at close.
India 24-1 contd 288 (91.1) (R Dravid 117, V Laxman 54, Y Singh 62, J Anderson 2/80, S Broad 6/46, T Bresnan 2/48)


Mathews named vice-captain for first time

Back injury forces Malinga out of T20I series

A back injury has forced Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga out of the two Twenty20 Internationals against Australia at Pallakele on August 6 and 8.
Malinga was left out of the Sri Lanka squad of 16 players named yesterday for the two matches.
Chairman of selectors Duleep Mendis stated that Malinga had suffered a strain on his back during practice and was not considered for selection as he is out of action at the moment.
“We are monitoring his progress carefully and if he is fit we will consider him for the one-day international series,” said Mendis.
The five-match one-day series starts at Pallakele on August 10.
Shaminda Eranga who has performed exceptionally well in England with the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team was picked as Malinga’s replacement.
All-rounder Angelo Mathews was named vice-captain to Tillakaratne Dilshan in the squad.
“We are looking at Mathews as a long term investment for the captaincy. He has recovered full fitness from a leg injury and he is able to bowl as well,” said Mendis.
Sri Lanka T20 squad: Tillakaratne Dilshan (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Thisara Perera, Dammika Prasad, Suranga Lakmal, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silva, Shaminda Eranga. – [ST]


SLC to pay U23 clubs today

With funds being received from Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation for local TV broadcasting rights amounting to Rs. 22 million and from local broadcaster Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation amounting to Rs. 750,000/-, Sri Lanka Cricket is making available these funds to pay the clubs who have been faced with a lot of hardship in conducting their tournaments but have shown patience and understanding in the dire financial situation faced by Sri Lanka Cricket, states an SLC media release.
The handing over of payment of 50% for the Under 23 Division I and Division II player fees and match fees will be held today (Sunday) at the SLC auditorium at 10.00 a.m.
Club presidents and secretaries of all Under 23 Division I and II clubs are requested to be present for the occasion.


Tickets go on sale for Aussies tour

Sri Lanka Cricket has started ticket sales for next month’s tour here by Australia.
Australia is due to arrive today (Sunday) and play a series of two Twenty20 Internationals, five One-Day Internationals and three Tests.
A Sri Lanka Cricket media release stated that ticket sales for the matches began on July 26.
Tickets for the two T20Is at Pallakele on August 6 and 8 are priced at Rs. 100/-, Rs. 200/-, Rs. 500/-, Rs. 1000/- and Rs 2500/- (corporate box).
For the five ODIs the prices vary from venue to venue. At Pallakele (1st ODI on Aug 10) the ticket prices are Rs. 100/-, Rs 250/-, Rs. 1000/-, Rs. 2000/- and Rs. 3500/- (corporate box). At Hambantota (2nd & 3rd ODIs on Aug 14 and 16) the prices of tickets are Rs. 100/-, Rs. 250/-, Rs. 500/-, Rs. 750/-, Rs. 1000/- and Rs. 4000/- (corporate box) and at R Premadasa Stadium (4th & 5th ODIs on Aug 20 and 22) the ticket rates are Rs. 100/-, Rs. 300/-, Rs. 750/-, Rs. 1500/-, Rs. 4000/- and Rs. 5000/- (corporate box).
Sri Lanka Cricket interim committee chairman Upali Dharmadasa said that he was pleased the way ticket sales have been moving and added, “On an average about 6000 tickets are sold each day”.
Dharmadasa also thanked the Forces (Army and Police) for coming forward to supervise the security during the tour free of charge. “We are greatly indebted to the two forces for helping us out during difficult times.”
This is in comparison to the exhorbitant figure of Rs 96 million that was by the previous administration to a private security firm during the World Cup.