Australian depth wins through in classic ODI series
Playing series out to the final game is usually the province of the NBA. Best of seven games and they use them all. Australia beat Sri Lanka in the long haul for the Tri-Series trophy, and that’s what counts.
Sri Lanka beat us 4-2 in games played over the Commonwealth Bank Series, and no-one who saw those games could say that Australia was the better side.
We can think they are because we’re biased, but you’d have to rank Sri Lanka No. 1 in the 50-over game on the evidence.
Australia will take a ton out of their series win, but it has been a tough and costly exercise in brinksmanship when I didn’t think the selectors used anything like enough imagination.
Mahela Jayawardene, Graham Ford and the entire Sri Lankan team are to be congratulated. The firing of Geoff Marsh rankled a lot of Australian cricket supporters, but the Sri Lankans bounced back from maulings by Australia and South Africa in Tests to show that they are a gritty and talented squad.
They do need to bolster their quick bowling, but everything else is in fine shape.
As for Shane Watson’s men, the third final was a more thoughtful performance on a worn wicket where the ball stopped and cut occasionally and where the two best change-of-pace bowlers in Australia dominated.
Clint McKay and Watson himself interchanged 130 kph pace with two to three change-of-pace deliveries per over that dipped to around 115 or 120 kph, and for the first time Sri Lanka looked , and were, beatable.
The pair took a combined seven wickets for 41 runs in 17 overs. Watson as captain used Xavier Doherty to open the bowling, while the selectors dropped a quick and played Nathan Lyon.
It means they learned from Tuesday and applied straightforward strategies.
Yes , Watson and Mickey Arthur tried things tonight. Watson in the games he captained bowled his squad in short bursts and kept the Sri Lankan and Indian batsmen guessing. I didn’t think Michael Clarke or Ricky Ponting showed as much imagination.
Nor do I think any of the three Aussie captains showed as much imagination as Jayawardene and Ford, particularly regarding field placements.
I didn’t think Australia batted well enough in the third final, but it was tough to lose Mike Hussey to another run out, and that seemed to stunt the innings . Hussey should open in the ODIs in the West Indies, and the young and fit should work through from number six. Matthew Wade and David Hussey can bat with Dan Christian and the tail.
While Brett Lee and MacKay did great jobs with bat and ball, and it was gratifying to know that the tail can wag when needed, the key was that people like Doherty, Lyon and Christian are showing signs of knowing they belong at the top.
What I think Australia will take from this is that no matter how many players go down with injury, Australia will always, always have more than capable replacements. World-class replacements.
Waiting in the wings you have Clarke, Ponting, Pat Cummings, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Rob Quiney, George Bailey, Travis Birt, Callum Ferguson, Michael Klinger, Aaron Finch, Moises Henriques, Nathan Rimmington, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jon Holland… and that is just the beginning.
Looking at that list, you know Australia is the most powerful cricketing nation in the world.
Roar expert Glenn Mitchell's video summary of Day 1 of the second Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval