Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann reveals who he would select in the team’s top order for the series opener against Pakistan in November.
The series is finished. We know that the Australian cricket team are not as good as they looked in annihilating the Sri Lankan team.
But they were not as bad as they looked against the number one ranked Indian team.
As dedicated cricket watchers, we must look ahead and savour our successes when they happen. Here are five things I liked about the last two Tests.
Having been rubbished since South Africa and with a slight change in personnel, they made two telling and hopefully long-term decisions. They gave Jhye Richardson his first go in Test cricket when Josh Hazlewood was injured and finally found a way to discard Peter Siddle.
Richardson was accurate, lively and enthusiastic and was a perfect foil for the extreme pace and waywardness of Mitchell Starc and overall excellence of Patrick Cummins. He could be a revelation in England.
The second great choice was Kurtis Patterson, whose calm smooth manner seems to destine him for a prolonged period in the Australian middle order. His unhurried demeanour and beautiful placing of his cover drives that regularly bisect gaps in the field reminded me of Brian Booth.
Kurtis seems immune to the white ball frenetic approach to batting that has infected us for the last few years. After our loss in Adelaide I wrote that we would see the emergence of a new star. We got two.
Now the third-ranked bowler in the ICC rankings, Patrick has now become an invaluable part of the team both in bowling and batting. In AFL terms he is an A grader.
His success was predicted when he towelled up South Africa years ago, but his body kept breaking down. Only maturity and regular bowling seem to have fixed it. He has the extraordinary ability to bowl the unplayable ball which will get any batsman out. He also seems to enjoy his Test cricket.
He was much too good for the Sri Lankan batsmen, who could not survive against him. Hence he was a certainty for the man of the series. Next stop, the Poms.
This is how Test cricket should be. Pick a youngish batsman with a few years of first-class experience. Persevere with him and let his innate ability mature and improve. Luckily, he rarely loses his wicket under 20 and in the last Test, he broke his century duck.
He is an ideal number 5 with an aggressive attitude that says to a bowler “you can’t get on top of me.” He seems to have tempered his white ball cricket bravado and I see a long red ball career ahead.
I don’t think that we have had a wicketkeeper of his technical quality for the last 20 years. His batting at 7 is pugnacious and effective. He will never take apart an attack like Adam Gilchrist or Matthew Hayden, but he is reliable and sound.
His captaincy is thoughtful and aggressive, and he handles his bowlers without bias. In my opinion, he is a better captain than Steve Smith and I would not mind him keeping the job when Smith’s captaincy ban expires.
Lakmal and Mendes
It is difficult to find room for a Sri Lankan player in a side that has been smashed, but there are two players who at times showed they were Test quality. RAS Lakmal bowled very well in Brisbane and worried every batsman. BKG Mendes in the slips cordon was as good as anyone could be.
He never looked like dropping a catch and made some beauties. If only his batting was up to standard.