Warner, Lee, and McKay combine for Australian series win

David Lord Columnist

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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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    Brett Lee and Clint McKay combined with bat and ball to steer Australia to a 16 run ODI finals win over Sri Lanka at Adelaide last night.

    The Australians dodged a major bullet after posting a mere 231 on a 300-plus wicket.

    So the locals won the finals series 2-1 – the first time since the Tri Series started in 1990 that Australia had won after losing the second final.

    In the three previous played-out finals against South Africa in 1994 and 1998, and Sri Lanka in 2006, Australia lost the first but won the next two.

    Having been sent in, Australia started well, with David Warner and Matt Wade posting a solid 76-run opening stand off 84, with Warner’s 48 taking his finals tally to 311 at 103.67, the highest in the history of ODIs in Australia.

    But Australia’s brittle batting was bared once again, with the dismissals of stand-in skipper Shane Watson (19), Mike Hussey run out for 1, David Hussey (10), Peter Forrest (3), Dan Christian (19), and Nathan Lyon on ODI debut for a duck.

    Enter Lee and McKay at 7-177, with Australia in serious trouble.

    They added 40 precious runs to be parted on 217. Lee finished with 32 off 54, McKay 28 off 32.

    But the way the Sri Lankans started their 232 chase, it looked as thought they’d reach their target with 20 overs to spare.

    That’s where Lee and McKay again kicked in.

    Between them they knocked over the Sri Lankan quality quartet of Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, and Dinesh Chandimal for a sum total of 47.

    The same quartet amassed 254 between them in the second final to force the decider.

    McKay finished with a career-best 5-28 to rightfully win man-of-the-match. Lee claimed 3-59, taking his career haul to 369 wickets at a miserly 23.06 apiece.

    Watson also played his part with 2-13 off 7, dismissing Lahiru Thirlimanne (71) and Upul Tharanga (30), Sri Lanka’s two top scorers.

    So the Australians confirmed their world number one ODI status, despite losing four games out of seven to Sri Lanka in this series.

    There was a lot of magnificent cricket played over the three finals, but watched by sparse crowds, averaging 11,000 a game.

    The season was too long. It should have finished early February, not early March.

    Sports fans have understandably been in football mode for the last two weeks.

    The finals deserved better, Cricket Australia.

    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 (19)

    • March 9th 2012 @ 7:26am
      rossco said | March 9th 2012 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      Brett Lee will lose Australia more matches than he will win us. Why wasn’t the leading wicket taker in domestic one dayers McDermott not even in the squad, let alone in the side. Nothing has changed still jobs for the boys.

      • March 9th 2012 @ 11:08am
        Aware said | March 9th 2012 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        Lee played through a broken toe and showed the determination that, I believe, inspired the victory. He may be coming to the end but deserves some kudos for that performance. A lesser experienced boom-player like Pattinson was missing-in-action through most of the series.

        • March 10th 2012 @ 11:11am
          Aware said | March 10th 2012 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          As to McDermott, he is untried at this level so it would be pure conjecture to predict he would be an instant success.

      • March 9th 2012 @ 4:16pm
        Brendon said | March 9th 2012 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

        Are you new to cricket? Lee has played 212 ODI’s. He is only 12 wickets from equalling McGrath’s record as Australia’s highest wicket.

    • March 9th 2012 @ 8:55am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | March 9th 2012 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      I agree, David.
      The cricket season has gone on far too long. Not for devotees like you and me but for the majority, especially footy fans. But for Sri Lanka supporters, the attendances would have been me, you and the traditional dog!
      The best tri-nation series we have watched deserved better timing.
      Sri Lanka lost but they fought till the end.

    • March 9th 2012 @ 9:54am
      Bayman said | March 9th 2012 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      I confess I doubted whether Australia could hold off Sri Lanka in this third, and last, final – and that was before the game. At the half I was thinking that 231 was not enough by a fair margin.

      When we set them 321 the Lions reached 306, when we set them 271 they strolled past just two down so 231 should have been a doddle.

      However, I didn’t count on Watson, McKay and Christian all going for less than three an over for one ball short of twenty-five overs (indeed, Watson for less than two off seven). Even Lyon, on debut, only conceded 4.5 runs an over for his eight overs. At those rates victory was assured.

      Of course, Brett Lee after a very handy, and critical, contribution with the bat almost handed the game back by allowing over seven an over off his bowling. Clearly Lee is in the side to take wickets because he has no clue about keeping the run rate down. To be fair he took three, all of them key batsmen (well, after Brisbane I’m including Kulasekara as “key”), but he needed to.

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more relieved bowler than Lee when he dismissed Kulasekara who was, once again, threatening to distribute the bowler all over the Adelaide Oval. The game was looking very competitive, if not completely safe, when Lee was handed the ball. Two Lee overs later and it was difficult to see how Sri Lanka could lose – at least until that crucial “match saving” wicket.

      I guess this is what you get with Brett. Occasional runs, pretty handy fielding and throwing, the odd wicket and plenty of runs conceded. I just wonder, that at thirty-five, what Lee has to offer, really, to the Australian ODI team. He has never been a tight bowler and absolutely never a bowler for the death.

      He’s had a great career at all levels of the game. Personally, I’ve never quite rated him as highly as some others seem to do but I’d be happy with his wicket tally. That said, I reckon it’s time for Lee to head to, well, wherever fast bowlers go to relax and retire. Time to put the feet up, get those niggles sorted, start bragging about the good old days and remembering it better than it really was.

      • Columnist

        March 9th 2012 @ 10:21am
        Brett McKay said | March 9th 2012 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        Bayman, I pondered the Lee situation last night, too. Lee took 12 wickets for the series @ about 28, and took a wicket roughly every 30 balls. But went at somethng like 5.7 runs per over.

        If Ponting is no longer part of the planning, for how much longer will Lee be in the plans if he’s going to return 2/57 off 10 every game?? (And baring in mind his 3/59 was from only 8 overs last night)

        • Roar Guru

          March 9th 2012 @ 10:27am
          Red Kev said | March 9th 2012 @ 10:27am | ! Report

          Lee is only around until the T20 world cup. That’ll be the last time he’s in Australian colours.

          • March 9th 2012 @ 10:56am
            Matt F said | March 9th 2012 @ 10:56am | ! Report

            Yeah I’d say that Lee’s international swansong will be the T20 World Cup. He may get a go next summer but I can’t imagine it being much longer then that, especially if his form continues as it has been. Even if his form was tremendous it’s difficult to justify persisting with him 12 months from now.

            I’m a little bit surprised that Mike Hussey hasn’t attracted much attention this series. He only averaged 25 this series and given his age, i.e. he won’t be around in 2015, there can’t be too much of an upside in persisting with him for an extended period of time. Obviously he has a magnificent ODI record and deserves a chance in the WIndies but a poor ODI series there could see go the way of Ponting.

        • March 9th 2012 @ 10:50am
          MrKistic said | March 9th 2012 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          I’m not sure that anyone who bowls leg side wides for 4 as consistently as Lee does at the moment can be in the team at all.

    • March 9th 2012 @ 10:02am
      thesportsguy said | March 9th 2012 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      this has been a fantastic series, and a for me, much better then anything a 20/20 series could throw up.

      i hope that tri nations series are here to stay and that one day cricket dominates the shorter version of the game once again!

      • March 9th 2012 @ 2:45pm
        Chop said | March 9th 2012 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

        I agree with you completely, but the tri-series isn’t happening next year.

        5 ODI’s against the Windies and 5 ODI’s against Sri Lanka again.

    • March 9th 2012 @ 10:43am
      jameswm said | March 9th 2012 @ 10:43am | ! Report

      I think McKay has proven his worth for a while now. He’s no test bowler though.

      Similarly, I think Hilfy and Siddle should be banned from ODIs. Save them for tests.

      Jury’s out on how much short form Cummins and Pattinson should play. Cummins seems to do well at both tests and shorter forms. Pattinson hasn’t proven his worth in the short form yet. And slightly off topic, I really think the selectors need to look at WA’s (imported from NSW) Hogan. He’s getting results and he’s tall, awkward and moves it round. Get him in there and doing some training with Billy, if he’s really that good a bowling coach.

      So if Lee goes, who are our premier short form bowlers? McKay, Cummins perhaps, maybe Ryan Harris. Who else?

      I think that means it’s time to give the best short-form domestic bowlers a go, and as far as I know that means Coulter-Nile and McDermott, Billy Jnr. I’d be taking them to the Caribbean and have a ODI squad like this

      W-K
      Wade

      BATS
      Warner
      Clarke
      MHUssey
      DHussey
      Forrest

      ALL ROUNDERS
      Watson
      Christian
      Faulkner

      PACE BOWLERS
      McKay
      2 of McDermott/Coulter-Nile/Harris

      SPINNERS
      SOK ahead of Doherty. Similar bowlers but SOK is a much better fielder and batsman
      Lyon

      That’s a squad of 14. A bowler the first to go I guess, depending on the conditions where you’re going (eg SA or SL?).

      My team would look like this

      1. Warner
      2. Watson
      3. Clarke
      4. DHussey
      5. MHussey
      6. Wade (I prefer Watson opening)
      7. Christian
      8. Faulkner
      9. SOK
      10. McKay
      11. Harris/McDermott/C-N (C-N can bat higher)

      The team’s bowling can handle another batsman, instead of say Faulkner. Watson/Christian are almost as good as specialist bowlers and you have DHussey and Clarke to throw in some overs. I don’t really see Forrest as a no.6 and I don’t think you can have Forrest and Clarke batting after each other, as both start too slowly and eat up too many dot balls. Not sure who I’d have though.

      If you have someone like SOK as your spinner it deepens the batting, and you can play an extra quick. He mightn’t have a great ODD record, but his T20 and Shield records are very good. I think the poorer ODD record is an aberration.

      That team I have up there has Watson as your 6th bowler, so is very strong in that department, and has Faulkner and SOK at 8 and 9 (and McKay at 10), so the batting is deep enough.

      The alternative if Wade opens is Watto bats 3, Clarke 4, and the Husseys 5 and 6. They’re better middle order bats than Wade, so I’m a bit 50/50 on the batting order.

    • March 9th 2012 @ 10:48am
      MrKistic said | March 9th 2012 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      What, no McKay bashing today Roarers? Seems to have been many commenters favourite pastime this series.

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