5 Match Series Hard to Call
Australia head to the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo reeling from being swept in the 3 test Series. Having copped a hiding just up the road at the SSC Ground less then a week ago Australia will hope a change to coloured clothing brings a change of fortunes. Australia will rely on a few fresh faces bringing life to their side and turning around what has been an insipid tour to date. The 5 match One Day Series starting tonight has an air of mystery to it, given Sri Lanka's dominant 3-0 whitewash in the Tests, and Australia's imposing ODI Record over the past 18 months. Australia won the 50 Over World Cup on home soil and have held more then solid form in 2016. They disposed of India 4-1 at home, before losing in New Zealand and winning 4 of 7 in the Tri-Series Triumph in the Caribbean. Sri Lanka's ODI form has been less inspiring this season winning just 1 from their past 6 matches. Australia have made 6 changes from the Test side with Aaron Finch, George Bailey, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner and Adam Zampa all winning places in the 11 for Colombo. Sri Lanka lost the bowler that so terrorised the tourists in the Tests, with Ragana Herath having retired from ODI cricket. However they do give a debut to Amila Aponso, a left arm spinner who will be looking to create similar problems. Sri Lanka also welcome back veteran opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan. Dilshan, who can be explosive at his best, at 39 years of age might be be a fading force however he is still a danger man.
Bailey A Good Man To Steady The Ship
There is no doubt Steve Smith remains Australia's best option as captain in both the Test and ODI format. However to me he looked like he lacked leaders around him in the Test Series. I think in Bailey, a genuine good guy and experienced pro he gets the steady and calming hand he needs around him. Australia unravelled in the test matches and Smith cut a frustrated figure in the post match interviews. Smith was rightly critical of Australia's batsman however was also outspoken and critical of Nathan Lyon and John Holland, which I found a little strange. Lyon has over 200 Test Wickets and I am not sure he would have appreciated Smith's words despite his modest, but acceptable series of 16 wickets at an average of 31. I'm not sure how wise those words were in relation to team morale. I just think Bailey is a guy who Smith can lean on and help with the man management of the team. Smith remains a young captain with a lot on his plate, and with Bailey around he might be able to give a few duties like press conferences and man management to an experienced hand. In the past Australian Test captains of far greater experience then Smith have been able to rely on guys like Adam Gilchrist, Michael Hussey, Simon Katich - statesman of the game that are not all about ego. While Bailey might not quite be in that same category as a player i think he is crucial man here to keep some egos in check and provide a good example to the younger players.
Khawaja And Marsh Left Out With Batting Spots Up For Grabs
Australia have named an interesting batting line up for the First ODI in Colombo. Despite having been successful in the 50 over format in recent times Australia's best battling line up outside of Steve Smith and David Warner remains complicated and well hidden. The dropping from the squad of Glenn Maxwell all together shows that no one is considered safe in this ODI side. Shaun Marsh despite not playing in the side of late surely had big claims for a place somewhere at the top of the oder after starring in the recent 3rd Test Match. However along with Usman Khawaja he has missed selection for the Opening ODI with Australia opting for Aaron Finch to partner David Warner. Khawaja had a poor series in the Caribbean, however was in sublime touch in the Australian summer and Big Bash. Aaron Finch has been in decent form in country cricket and will be expected to take the attack to the Sri Lankan quicks opening the batting. Travis Head in the latest young talent that is getting plenty of hype lately and he wins a spot at Number 6 for the opening game. Head is considered an excellent player of spin with a punishing sweep shot which might see him get the nod. He debuted for Australia in the the recent ODI Tour of the Caribbean and recently scored 175 for Yorkshire. With Mitchell Marsh sent home to rest, James Faulkner and Moises Henriques will be battle it out to re assert themselves as Australia's premier all rounder without Marsh around. Falkner was dropped for the Final in the Caribbean and has had a patchy last 12 months on and off the field. Henriques gets a chance at number 5 and like in the tests in considered more as an out and out batsman in this team.