1. Australia Rocked by Dual Left Arm Spinners
Australia's batting woes away from home against spin bowling were exposed as they were skittled for 203 on Day 2 of the First Test in Kandy. Australia's failure to fully capitalise on their Day 1 exploits has left the door ever so slightly ajar for Sri Lanka if they can scrap together a lead over 150. Rangana Herath proved the chief destroyer ripping out half the top order on his way to 4/49. Whilst Herath would have been the main dangerman on Australia's scouting report, it was the display of unknown debutant Lakshan Sandakan which raised eyebrows. The left arm chinaman was extremely impressive on debut, proving hard to pick on his way to 4/58. Whilst Peter Neville and Steve Steve were bought undone by some cavalier shot making others were boxed in and suffered death by lack of footwork. Despite an extra weeks preparation in Sri Lanka before the First Test Australia were again bought undone by a dual spin threat. They will have to go back to the drawing board if they are to conquer their spin demons on the road before the series is out.
2. Herath a Throw Back to a Bygone Era
Call me old school or out of touch but it warms my heart to see cricketers that don't look like athletes still dominating occasionally. In the modern world of cricket fitness freaks and gym junkies have replaced portly characters which is a sad sight. Cricket used to be a game for all shapes and sizes. I still think it is in many respects, even at the top level. Give me a canny and skilful cricketer carrying a couple of extra pounds that is effective and consistent on game day any day of the week. Cricketers that love protein shakes, dominate in the gym, win the 2 km time trial or tuck into a salad lunch worry me a bit. Some tend to look like Tarzan and plays like Jane. I doubt a Merv Hughes, David Boon, Arjuna Ranatunga, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Viv Richards or Shane Warne would have run a 13.7 in the beep test. Indeed in a recent interview Hughes admitted to smashing a set of scales to pieces that was placed in the Australian dressing room so he didn't have to be weighed. At the evergreen age of 38, wily old veteran Rangana Herath is no athlete, but he is an excellent master of his craft. He was at his crafty best on Day 2 claiming 4/49 from 25 engrossing overs in Kandy. Herath, with his subtle mix of drift, flight and turn bewildered a shellshocked Australian batting line up. I somehow doubt he would have been hoping into an ice bath at the end of play unless it contained a few cold beers.
3. India Take Note
Australia has lost their past 3 Test series in India by a combined score of 8-0. The latest disaster being a 4-0 clean sweep for the home side back in 2013. Whilst that tour will be remembered for the bungled homework-gate affair, Australia were all at sea on the turning sub continent tracks. In that series Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 27 wickets and with it the Man of the Series award. Ashwin and Ravinder Jadeja tore Australia apart as they were humbled by record margins, ultimately leading to the demise of coach Micky Arthur a few months later. Ashwin has recently risen to become the number 1 test bowler in the world and he would be champing at the bit after watching yesterday's limp display from Australia. Virat Kohli and the powerhouse that is the BCCI will no doubt be cooking up some raging turners to hit Australia with when they tour in February. While in my opinion Steve Smith and David Warner are high class players against quality spin bowling, doubts over the remaining batsman in the Top 6. Even great players like Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist have suffered nightmare tours of the sub continent as it tests different parts of your technique. The likes of Burns, Khawaja, Voges and Marsh would want to get a few confidence building scores in Sri Lanka to be confident of taking on and conquering the beast that is India at home.