Just when we thought the Australian summer, after six at times laborious Test contests, was finished, along comes the gutting realisation that there’s still a long way to go. Like Dan Smith tucking into a Sunday roast, it just never seems to end. After the Sri Lankan tourists sent the emergency wards of Eastern Coast hospitals into a frenzy with a litany of broken bones in the Test series, they must now backup in the shorter forms of the game, five ODIs and two T20s to be exact. Thankfully they’ll all be done by the end of the month….when the West Indies turn up to continue the torture. Surely we must have done something to offend the cricketing gods for them to mock us so. If it was that time we made fun of Steve Smith’s running, we are sorry. We really are.
Channel Nine executives up and down the land were besides themselves with grief at the realisation that the Australian squad (for the first two games at least) was without such players as David Warner, Michael Clarke and Matthew Wade. Several of them gave dire warnings that much of the Australian cricketing public would attempt self harm rather than watch an Australian team play without those above.
Unlike Channel Nine, however, we have a modicum of respect for the cricketing public, even if they are Australian, and believe people may be generally interested in seeing players like Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes and Ben Cutting get a run in national colours. Obviously they won’t be bothered turning up to actually watch the games, but that’s more to do with the insane prices Cricket Australia charge for the privilege.
The selectors clearly are looking towards the 2015 World Cup squad with their selections, and it will be interesting to see how this new look Australian team fares. That is till all the old names get shipped back in after the first two games. Kind of makes us long for the days of Australia A playing in the summer really. That interest is also somewhat diluted by the fact that George Bailey has been made interim captain. Selecting Bailey would have been bad enough, but parachuting him in as captain is frankly unbelievable. We can only guess he dug up some dirt on the selectors and is now holding them to ransom. Clever bugger.
Steve Smith is, rightfully, back after being dropped during the series against Pakistan for the waste of space that is Glenn Maxwell. Although even that bright light is somewhat dimmed by the fact that Steve will be taking orders from Bailey. If ever a man looked a natural fit for the captaincy of his country, it’s Steven Peter Devereux Smith.
You suspect Sri Lanka have been looking forward to these contests since they landed on Australian shores, with the small matter of the three preceding Test matches considered a mild inconvenience. Sadly Sri Lanka came through those contests in rather poor shape, but no matter, as they have since flown over/unearthed more players who should be more than capable of overpowering their similarly undermanned hosts.
The big talking point is the Sri Lankan ‘mystery spinners’, prime amongst whom is Akila Dananjaya. If the performances of Sachithra Senanayake (who must be in line for a recall in the T20s) in the Big Bash are anything to go by, all Sri Lanka need to do is bowl spin for 40 overs of the innings (Lasith Malinga gets the other ten) to be assured of victory. The form of the aforementioned Malinga has been another talking point, as he also has effortlessly dominated the Big Bash, along with Thisara Perara. Basically the path to success in the Big Bash has become ‘pick as many Sri Lankans as you can’. Plus Alex Hales. Obviously.
Lahiru Thirimanne is another in form, along with Dinesh Chandimal. In fact this Sri Lankan limited overs outfit looks extremely confident right now. As they should be considering that last season in the Commonwealth Bank Series they dominated their hosts on nearly every occasion. Although, unfortunately for them, that didn’t quite extend to the finals.
It’s hard to make a prediction considering just how many changes Australia have made going into this serious, which means they won’t have their first choice players back till halfway through. That is, it would be hard to make a prediction if Australia hadn’t otherwise been utterly rubbish in ODI cricket for some time now. So full strength or not, we can’t look past Sri Lanka taking the series out, despite some heroic performances from Steve Smith.
Since there are two T20’s, it doesn’t take a genius to see they will finish one-all.