From the Sunday Island, 20 January 2013
Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford has praised the fighting spirit of his players after they thumped Australia in the third One-Day International at The Gabba. Australia were bowled out for the embarrassing total of 74, with Nuwan Kulasekara (five for 22) completely bamboozling the top order with a textbook spell of swing bowling. The Sri Lankans stuttered in the chase, losing six wickets along the way, but still managed to surpass the total with 30 overs to spare. After losing the Test series 3-0, then losing heavily to Australia in the first ODI in Melbourne, Sri Lanka have shown great resolve to turn the tables on their opponents in Adelaide and Brisbane, according to Ford. “I’ve always had huge admiration for the Sri Lankan fight and the character that they show,” Ford said.
“I think everybody in the camp was a little bit disappointed after the Test series and certainly after the first ODI but they’ve stuck together, they’ve chatted a lot, the coaches have worked really hard with the players and they’ve come here and certainly put in the best bowling performance since I’ve been involved. So once again it’s great to see the character that the Sri Lankan cricketers show.”
Michael Clarke’s side’s inability to handle the swing of Kulasekara on Friday was not an indication of a greater malaise in Australian cricket, according to Ford.
“No batsman really looked at home out there on that surface so I don’t think it’s fair to start judging Australian batting on that performance,” he said. “But certainly one of the things that we’ve spoken a lot about is improving the ability to assess conditions and then adapt to conditions and I thought the bowlers did that fantastically. At times on the tour we’ve shown that we can adapt as a batting unit as well and that’s something we have to keep doing.”
Ford spoke of the value of opening bowler Kulasekara to the team.”He’s always been a big factor for us. He does a fantastic job with the new ball and has great skills at the end of the innings as well,” Ford said. “He really used those conditions superbly well and bowled the perfect length required on that surface.”
Web Editor’s Comment: While not in disagreement with Ford’s evaluation of the fighting spirit of the Lankan team and the hard work put in by the squad and its coaches/physiotherapists etc, I raise quesitons about the adequacy of their preparation for Aussie wickets. For one, key batsmen (e.g Dilshan, Mahela) have got out attempting to leave the ball — in w ays that indicate misjudgement of the bounce. For another, many batsmen have squared up to the short-pithed chest/head high ball in awkward if not comical fashion or attempted pulls in equally awful manner — wintess, Jeewan Mendis twice, Dhammika Prasad thrice [criminal that] and most terribly Angelo Matthews at the Gabba. Joe Hoad indicated to me that this suggests a failure to utilise the bowling machine properly at practice — for that is the best way to learn how to handle the type of short-pitched semi-bouncer that Johnson, Starck and others have deployed. Here one uses new tennis balls in the bowling machine and cranks up the speed to faster than the normal bowler.
A fuller essay will follow tomorrow sumarizing joe Hoad’s inputs in more elaborate form.