It will be mate versus mate when Australia takes on Australia A at Southampton in a four-day pre-Ashes trial match starting at 8pm (AEST) tonight.
A fairly young Sri Lankan side has just come off a shattering 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan on home soil, in Galle.
The win pushed Pakistan ahead of India as having won the most Test matches (123) of any Asian nation. But there are some serious problems with this Sri Lankan side at present.
Firstly, they failed to capitalise with the ball when the opportunity was there. In the first innings the Sri Lankans had Pakistan reeling at 5-96, yet a long stand of 139 from Asad Shafiq and Safraz Ahmed helped push their total to 417.
This came in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 300. They had the match in a very favourable position, but were unable to take advantage of this opportunity.
Another factor hurting the Sri Lankans is that they have an almost non-existent tail. Between the final four in their batting line-up they managed 25 in the first innings and only four in the second innings.
This is a real problem particularly in an era of cricket that has showed it is more important than ever to have a tail that can not only hold an end but contribute some runs too. Look at the current Australian side and how they are able to do this so well, and how their lower order and tail has in fact saved them on many occasions in recent years.
Sri Lanka’s quick bowlers are full of heart and will run in all day but they lack pace, substantially. Nuwan Pradeep and Dhammika Prasad probably wouldn’t get a place in most other international sides, one main reason for this being they’re constantly floating between the 120-135 kilometres per hour pace mark.
Very rarely do Sri Lanka’s quicks push the 140 kilometre per hour barrier, yet many other sides around the world have at least one or two bowlers that can do this regularly. They aren’t threatening enough or quick enough to be high-quality new ball bowlers.
I can’t help but wonder why Suranga Lakmal wasn’t included in this side, he has enormous upside as a pace bowler for Sri Lankan cricket.
Sri Lanka don’t need to panic just yet but such a hefty defeat will hurt, and they must turn it around fairly quickly. They have an opportunity to bounce back, and need to do so.