Warner belts Australia to close win over Sri Lanka

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Dave Warner was one of the few batsmen to perform in Australia's loss. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

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    Swashbuckling David Warner repaid the selector’s faith by cracking a ODI career-high 163 to beat Sri Lanka by 15 runs in a Gabba run-fest last night.

    The best of three finals series started with a 627-run bonanza – Australia 6-321, Sri Lanka all out 306.

    It was out of Warner and Peter Forrest to make way for skipper Michael Clarke’s return from injury. Forrest ended up with the short straw.

    Warner became the sixth highest-scoring Australian 50-over international behind Shane Watson’s 185* against Bangladesh in 2011 (off 96 balls), Matt Hayden’s 181* against New Zealand in 2007, Mark Waugh’s 173 against the West Indies in 2001, Adam Gilchrist’s – 172 against Zimbabwe in 2004 and Ricky Ponting’s 164 against South Africa 2006.

    Just as important as Warner’s dig was the opening partnership with Matt Wade. Up until last night the two left-handed goers were averaging only 19 for the first wicket.

    But they chose an ideal time to amass 136 by the 24th over, before Wade was dismissed for 64 to give the Australians a long overdue flying start.

    Surprisingly, in the end they needed it. When Sri Lanka was 6-144 in the 31st over, they appeared to be dead in the water requiring 9.37 runs an over with only four wickets in hand.

    But a couple of dropped catches by Watson and Wade gave Nuwan Kulasekara and Upul Tharanga the lives they needed, and they made the most of it.

    Kulasekera was brutal. His 73 off only 43 with seven fours and three sixes gave Sri Lanka a sniff. Tharanga played his support role superbly chiming in with 60 off 67 with only three fours. But he kept the scoreboard ticking by farming the strike to his on-fire partner.

    To fall only 15 runs shy from such a seemingly impossible position was a credit to the Sri Lankan’s grit. But it didn’t say much for the Australian attack, nor fielding.

    Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, and Dan Christian copped some stick, and it was left to just three bowlers to share the spoils – David Hussey 4-43 off 8, Watson 3-33 off 9.2, and Brett Lee 3-59 off 9.

    The Australians dodged a bullet last night, and won’t feel as confident for the second final at Adelaide tomorrow, especially as Warner is a doubtful starter with a strained groin.

    Irrespective of Warner’s fitness, the Australian batting has been brittle all series. That must be addressed tomorrow or the tournament is likely to be decided in game three on Wednesday, also in Adelaide.

    After such an exciting game last night, it will be interesting to see how many spectators turn up at Adelaide Oval. Last night it was a meagre 12,196 for a final.

    The night before 33,563 braved atrocious conditions at Suncorp to watch the reigning champion Reds take on the lowly Force in the Super Rugby.

    Those figures underline the folly of Cricket Australia to extend the season too far. Sports fans are in football mode.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • March 5th 2012 @ 7:47am
      jamesb said | March 5th 2012 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Great game of cricket which deserved a better crowd of 12, 196.

      Whats even worse was that if you take away the Sri Lankan fans, the crowd would’ve been similar to what Gold Coast United get in the A-League.

      Where are the Australian fans? I didn’t see an Australian flag been waved. Saw plenty of Sri Lanka flags though and good on them.

      The same at the MCG on Friday night, 28000 people turned up, I reckon around 20000 of them were Sri Lankan fans.

      Yes, it is March and football season has begun, But we always say Australia is a MAD sporting country. So, If thats the case, where are the Australian fans.

      PS: What an innings by Kulasekera, 73 off 43. I didn’t think he can bat. I was wrong.

      Warner great innings, Pattinson and Hilfy had a shocker. Game 2 in Adelaide, Sri Lanka will be tough to beat.

      • March 5th 2012 @ 8:25am
        David Lotd said | March 5th 2012 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Spot on jamesb, right across the board.

      • March 5th 2012 @ 8:27am
        David Lord said | March 5th 2012 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        Spot on jamesb, right across the board.

      • March 5th 2012 @ 5:05pm
        Brendon said | March 5th 2012 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

        Brisbane, and Queensland in general, has never really been a cricket stronghold.

        Sydney and Adelaide are probably the strongest fans per capita. For all the size of the MCG 5000 less people turned up than the last Australia match at the SCG plus tickets for Sydney matches are much more expensive than MCG.

    • March 5th 2012 @ 8:57am
      Bayman said | March 5th 2012 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      Perhaps it was just the massive advantage Australia had – 6/321 against 6/144 – but I had the distinct impression that everybody thought the game was over, including the players.

      The bowlers seemed to be going through the motions while the Sri Lankans got a couple of lucky hits away. No matter, still 150 odd to get – they’ve got no chance. A couple more lucky hits, with Watto giving his best draft horse impression in the outfield as he ran around vainly trying to first find and then get near a certain(?) catching opportunity, and suddenly a couple of Aussies were casting sideways glances at each other.

      No matter, still 120 to get, 110, 100, 80, 60, oh dear! The bowlers were showing a few signs of panic as just about everything found the middle and that which did not still found gaps and space. The skipper, too, was doing his best Queen Victoria impression and becoming less amused by the second.

      Tailenders who “could not bat” were carving Australia’s finest all over the ‘Gabba and looking like they meant it – and could do it again. In the end, the locals got up and never was an “unbeatable” 321 more necessary. Let’s face it – Australia won by 15 in a game they should have won by 115.

      It told us a few things. The first was that Sri Lanka deserved their spot in the finals and they were there for a reason. They guts it out and they do not give it away – ever. They tied with India and they lost narrowly to Australia early in the series and, with a bit of luck, they could – and probably should – have won both games. In other words, they were/are probably the form team of the tri-series.

      The second thing it told us, not surprisingly, was that a start by Warner and Wade is very important to Australia’s fortunes. We seem to have developed a habit in recent years of losing our wickets at regular intevals – in batches even. We can usually rely on a Hussey or two to help out but our tail doesn’t quite do enough, often enough, to enable us to do what Sri Lanka did last night.

      It was obvious that Warner’s innings was crucial. It was also obvious that Brett Lee, despite a great career, is no bowler for the death. He always went for runs even in his prime. Now he’s got a sore foot, he’s 35 and he still goes for runs. Lee is still that tearaway young twenty year old who thinks he’s going to frighten batsmen out with his pace. Some things never change.

      Hilfy, Pattinson and Christian were touched up a bit and only Watson (of the quicks), Doherty and David Hussey earlier looked like they could control the batting. Even Hussey suffered a bit at the end with all the thrashing going on.

      The Hussey brothers, at least, showed Watson how to be an outfielder and with their help Australia finally got over the line. Perhaps Clarke’s men suffered a little from thinking it was over when it clearly, as it turned out, was not.

      The sense of panic was also evident in the field as a couple of clear runout opportunites were comprehensively butchered. Poor old Wade twice managed to ignore the use of gloves as he dropped a regulation catch without actually getting his gloves to it (it hit him on the wrist) and then copped a painful blow on the calf from a wayward throw by again choosing to not have gloves anywhere near the ball. Only Haddin would have had reason to be pleased.

      Mind you, why fieldsmen these days insist on bouncing the ball just in front of the wicketkeeper has yet to be fully explained to me or, indeed, fully understood by me! It defies logic to think it’s more “efficient”. Perhaps they just can’t throw.

      Australia would not want to take anything into the second final in Adelaide other than their “A” game or they might just get spanked. Sri Lanka has now won three of the last four and frightened hell out us in the one they missed. Could it be they are simply a better team in this form of the game? Tuesday will tell us – with or without Warner.

    • March 5th 2012 @ 8:57am
      formeropenside said | March 5th 2012 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      TO be fair to the crowd, it was a rainy and miserable day here in Brisbane yesterday: steamy when it wasn’t raining and utterly unpleasant. Always threatening to really throw it down. Not the kind of day that gives you confidence in a completed match, or offers much reason to go sit out in the rain and watch.

      • March 5th 2012 @ 9:12am
        David Lord said | March 5th 2012 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        IFormeropenside, the weather was far worse on Saturday, yet 33,563 turned up for the rugby.

        • March 5th 2012 @ 9:16am
          Gerry @ YourLawnAndGarden said | March 5th 2012 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          Maybe we are all cricket-ed out, and footy is back on again.

        • March 5th 2012 @ 9:43am
          Steve said | March 5th 2012 @ 9:43am | ! Report

          Point taken David, although there is a difference. It can rain during any football match and you’re still guaranteed to see play.

          The same cannot be said for cricket. Why go to a game on a miserable day if you’re going to have continual rain interruptions and a potentially more limited number of overs.

          It’s a massive difference which could help explain the discrepancy.

          • March 5th 2012 @ 10:53am
            formeropenside said | March 5th 2012 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            Also, 2 hours versus 8.

          • March 5th 2012 @ 10:57am
            Margaret R. said | March 5th 2012 @ 10:57am | ! Report

            How right you are Steve !

    • March 5th 2012 @ 9:39am
      Matt F said | March 5th 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      The on-field quality of this series has been fantastic. It’s just a shame that it’s been scheduled for far too long. Having a series like this extend for over a month is far too long. FIFA gets through it’s World Cup in the same amount of time.

      Ticket prices could be another reason for the low crowds. I don’t know what they were in Brisbane but the cheapest adult ticket at the SCG games was $56 ($26 for a kid and $48 for pensioner/concession.) When you consider cheapest adult ticket at the T20 in Sydney was $30, and the most expensive adult ticket for tonight’s NRL game is only $40 then you can start to see why people might be turned off an ODI match. Those prices might be OK in November-early February when there’s no other sport to compete against but if you’re tossing up which sport to go to out of the one of the football codes or cricket, ticket prices wil be a big factor.

      I’d be interested to know what the prices were for the ODI yesterday and Reds game on Saturday, but I can’t imagine that they’d be that much different to the Sydney equivalent (though the SCG usually has the most expensive ticket prices.)

      • March 5th 2012 @ 11:09am
        MrKistic said | March 5th 2012 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        Damn right. I know people who won’t go because of the price alone.

    • March 5th 2012 @ 9:56am
      jameswm said | March 5th 2012 @ 9:56am | ! Report

      I think a few things have come out of this game.

      1. Warner has to open, and you have to live with the intermittent failures, even if he gets 5 failures in a row. It was aquite a mature batting effort – he picked his ball and his time to attack.

      2. This shows why rotation should not only apply to bowlers. Warner has played every single game this summer and has had a niggle or two, and he should have been rested at the relevant stages and worked on in physio and rehab. They play a lot of intense cricket and need rests. Don’t think that batting poses no risks. Warner must have run 70-80 of those – that’s 80 x 20m, or 1.6km, and a lot of it flat out. Sprint, rest, sprint, rest, that fatigues your body and if you’ve got a small niggle, it can become a bigger problem.

      3. I still don’t think Warner-Wade is the right opening combo. I think it should be Warner-Watson. Watson is a better starter and we’ll be 1-for-little less often with Watto there.

      4. Hilfy is not a great ODI bowler. He’s a wicket taker and plugs away well in tests, but he’s never been a great ODI bowler. The selectors were swayed by the 4/5-for he took 1st game back in favourable conditions.

      5. Was it arrogant to put Pattinson, who’s hardly played for a while, back into the team at the expense of someone like Mackay who has been solid all series? Patto should have played a shield game or two.

      6. This is why Wade should not be our tests keeper. We can’t afford to have a test keeper who has rough patches like that. I can live with his sometimes sloppy glovework in the shorter formats, but not in the tests. I think for the tests it shoud be Paine first choice and then Nevill.

      • March 5th 2012 @ 10:27am
        Matt F said | March 5th 2012 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        1. It was a magnificent innings and shows exactly what he is capable of. Having said that though, he doesn’t do this once every five innings in this format,in fact he’s only made 4 centuries in almost 75 domestic and international one day games, and his career average is stil 29. Like Sehwag, he will be very inconsistent but hopefully this gives him the confidence boost that he needs to fulfill his potential in the format. It shows his potential but he still has a long way to go.

        2. We have used a bit of rotation with our batsmen, though it has been hampered by Clarke’s injuries and Ponting’s axing. Hussey was rested for one game early and all the talk was that Ponting and Warner would have been rested except for Clarke’s injury along with Ponting’s loss of form and subsequent “permanent rest.” I do agree that we should have found some game to rest Warner as he has played the entire summer and there’s no real break before he goes to the WIndies.

        3. It’s going to be hard to break them up after yesterday! I do prefer Watson as an opener in the shorter formats so I can see your point here. The good thing about Wade is that he can also come in at 6-7 so is very flexible. I can’t see them changing it any time soon though.

        4. I agree. His ODI record has never been great. He had that one fantastic game early on but has struggle since. Like Siddle, he may just not be suited to the format. We might as well keep him in the squad until after the WIndies to give him a real run at it but we have enough fast bowlers in the ranks now that can come in if he doesn’t perform in the format. There’s nothing wrong with using him as a pure test bowler.

        5. Mackay, and Forrest for that matter, can consider themselves very unlucky. Mackay is our 2nd leading wicket taker this series behind Christian (who’s played 9 games to Mackay’s 6) so it’s hard to believe that his axing was based on performance. I would have thought it would be better to give Pattinson a Shield match to best prepare him for the WIndies test series.

        6. He didn’t have the best game last night, but I think his series behind the stumps has been pretty good overal. I haven’t seen enough of Nevill to make a really good judgement on him and paine’s injury obviously takes him out of the equation for a while yet. Given it looks like it will be a choice bwteeen Wade and Haddin for the WIndies series, I’d pick Wade any day. Give him a chance and, if he doesn’t do the job, bring in Paine/Nevill. Most countries have different keeprs for different formats these days anyway.

        • March 5th 2012 @ 12:17pm
          aussie1st said | March 5th 2012 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          Watson only has 8 hundreds in 208 matches so that isn’t the issue. Warner is obviously still finding his feet in this format, hence his average is poor in both domestic and international. I still don’t think Warner has got the balance quite right, if a guy can get a 60 ball hundred in both Test and T20 then I see no reason why he can’t do it in this format. None the less if you look at the last 5 games aka a standard ODI series then Warner’s stats read 43, 7, 68, 6, 163 so basically a failure 1 in 2 games, certainly not all that inconsistent.

          • March 5th 2012 @ 12:39pm
            Matt F said | March 5th 2012 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

            Watson does that with an average around 40 though, so he’s alot more consistent. He’s also hit 37 50’s from those 208 games as opposed to Warners 7 from 73. I agree that Warner is still finding his feet and will be a very good ODI player, though despite that 163, Forrest stil has a higher average then Warner in this series. Certainly Warner can consider himself quite lucky to have been picked for the final, though he obviously repaid the faith in spades!

            I just get worried when people start ignoring a players 10 bad/average performances because of the one good performance that may or may not be around the corner (admittedly that innings yesterday was exceptional.) He doesn’t need to get 50’s or 100’s every innings but he does need to get past 20-30 alot more often then he currently does. In his 9 innings this tri-series he’s had 5 scores below 20, which isn’t good enough for an opener. In his 19 career ODI innings he’s only passed 25 runs six times.

            I’m not calling for his axing, just pointing out that he’s not quite there yet and we should refrain from declaring him “untouchable” until he can find some level of consistency in the format.

      • March 5th 2012 @ 5:16pm
        Brendon said | March 5th 2012 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

        All good points.

        In regards to Pattinson I don’t know but he is young and needs experience. Of course giving a young player experience in a finals series is maybe not the best place.

    • March 5th 2012 @ 11:07am
      Razza said | March 5th 2012 @ 11:07am | ! Report

      What is the use of a guy like Warner belting the canvas off the cricket ball scoring 163 runs and his team mates letting him down in the field.

      The defence of the Aussie’s 321 was pathetic, dropped catches, overthrows, missed fielding, not up to scratch of first class cricketers and not even trying to catch a ball out wide from Lee was un acceptable and that player ? (name escapes me) should be hauled over the coals, unless he had a very, very good excuse (maybe light in his eyes) ?.

      Sri Lanka, should have won that game in my books, it would have been up there with one of the greatest come back wins and the Aussies were very lucky, you can see that in Clarkes face after that catch.

      A great first final match, someone had to win it and i think both supporters got their monies worth.

      And finally, i wish everyone would get off Warners back, he is doing his job and doing it good for someone who never played Shield Cricket and is playing for Australia, go get em David.

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