The Michael Hussey show reached an appropriate conclusion with the veteran steering Australia home in a potentially tricky chase, securing a well-deserved win and series whitewash. It was a better performance from Sri Lanka but they faltered at key moments yet again, annoying the hell out of those of us who spend our days looking for reasons to laugh at the Aussies.
Another decent performance that doesn’t really tell us anything new about Australia. Jackson Bird again impressed, plus he made it through two consecutive matches without falling to pieces, hurling himself up the fast bowler queue, while all the batsmen got in at least once. Matt Wade’s hundred was, in a perverse way, something of a bad thing, as it gives the false impression that he could be a genuine Test number six. Not for the first time, his keeping was also scratchy – his hilarious efforts up to the stumps helping neither his case nor Nathan Lyon’s – and it’s hard to get away from the feeling that the selectors wouldn’t be overly distraught if Brad Haddin was recalled to the side, perhaps after Shane Warne accidentally smashed Wade’s face in with his unique brand of close-range fielding.
Of course, the real story for Australia was about Mike Hussey, who didn’t particularly fancy getting thrashed by India and so took the opportunity to go out on top. It’s hard to begrudge him that – it’s infinitely preferable to the relentlessly drawn out Ponting/Tendulkar sagas – but only a fool or drunkard would suggest that he leaves the side in anything other than a fairly challenging position.
With half of Sri Lanka’s first choice XI either broken, drunk or risking their lives in the kill or be killed atmosphere of the Big Bash, they came into this match expecting to take a similar beating to that dished out at the MCG. To their credit it wasn’t quite that bad. The batsmen (mostly) applied themselves and they were right in the game at 132/1 in their second innings. Then Karunaratne got a good one before Thirimanne and Samaraweera played horrible, horrible shots and the game raced away quite quickly.
Sri Lanka’s popgun seam attack was never going to prosper in these conditions but Rangana Herath bowled quite nicely, albeit with far, far too much appealing in the second innings. Add in a couple of run outs and the tourists can be reasonably happy. Frustratingly though, it could have been much better.
There’s the small matter of some limited overs jamborees between these sides in the next couple of weeks before Australia head to India for what should be a very different challenge, albeit one that they shouldn’t be daunted by. After all, India are rather crap these days.
For Sri Lanka, there’s a huge gap in their schedule. According to our exhaustive research (as in we were exhausted before we’d even started it), Sri Lanka’s next match after this tour is against New Zealand in the Champions Trophy in June. That’s an enormous amount of time without cricket, during which any slight momentum that they may have built up from this performance will be long gone. It’s hard to see them building any sort of Test side with so few games, something that Aussie Matt got rather hot under the collar about in his review of their 2012.