This could get awkward.
This could get awkward.

Australian Test debutant exposes awkward truth

AUSTRALIA turned back the clock and looked unstoppable out in the middle of the ground on the opening day of play against Sri Lanka.

After being sent in to bowl first, the Aussies began turning the screws and took control of the first Test as the tourists fell apart.

At the end of the first day's play, Australia find themselves at 2/72, only 72 runs behind their opponents.

Here were the talking points from the first day.

 

 

RICHARDSON PILES ON THE PRESSURE

After an impressive outing during Australia's one-day series against India, Jhye Richardson was handed a baggy green to make his Test debut.

He took the opportunity with both hands as he put the Sri Lankans to the sword by collecting three wickets in a scintillating display.

Richardson's impressive display of seam bowling and hints of swing left many watching on salivating over his future potential.

And with the Ashes just around the corner, Richardson may well have put himself in the driver's seat for a spot in the touring party.

"Jhye Richardson, forget him just getting on the plane, he starts at Edgbaston for me," Michael Vaughan said on Fox Cricket.

"Outstanding skill, pace, we saw it in the one-day series, number one on the team sheet for the Test match at Edgbaston, J. Richardson."

Jhye Richardson made his presence felt.
Jhye Richardson made his presence felt.

Vaughan's sentiment was backed up by Kerry O'Keefe who believed the English conditions would suit him perfectly.

"I've got him there, he'll swing the Duke ball in the right conditions. It's been years since we've seen a legitimate outswing bowler at pace. He's around 140km/h," O'Keefe said.

But the inclusion of Richardson into the squad would force one of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood or Mitchell Starc out. And it's the latter who is being singled out.

"Hazlewood's in there, Cummins is in there, Starc might be struggling," Vaughan added.

Former Aussie star with the bat Michael Hussey also believes Starc is under the pump with what Richardson brings to the table.

"I've got the spotlight on Mitchell Starc. Again he's come on and he's been the least impressive bowler but he gets people out," Hussey said.

"But basically the ship was righted by Richardson and Cummins coming on because his line and his rhythm was all over the shop. Again, he's got two poles, he might finish them off, but I've got Richardson ahead of him."

 

STARC'S MILESTONE MOMENT

He's spent the summer under fire, but Mitchell Starc has finally broken through with the 200th wicket of his career.

After 13 wickets in the series against India, Starc needed just one more to join the magical 200 wicket club, striking just before the dinner break with the wicket of Suranga Lakmal.

Taking just 50 matches to reach the milestone, the 28-year-old has the second-best strike rate of any Australian to have reached the mark with a wicket every 51.2 balls, behind only Mitchell Johnson at 51.1 balls.

Starc was warmly embraced by his teammates with Marnus Labuschagne taking a low catch in the slips to complete the wicket.

Australian bowling coach David Saker said Starc was "not at his best" against India but praised the quick.

"He is bowling balls in the right areas, his action is in a good place now - it's just his consistency is not there," he told Seven Network.

"He will always be a work in progress. But it was great to see [him get 200]."

Australia start to swarm Starc after his 200th wicket.
Australia start to swarm Starc after his 200th wicket.

He almost claimed the wicket in the sixth over when Lahiru Thirimanne was given LBW but successfully reviewed with the ball going down the leg side.

Starc's wife and Australian women's cricket star Alyssa Healy led the praise with a thinly veiled swipe after a long-running battle all summer with Starc's detractors.

The ICC's T20 International Player of the Year slammed both Mitchell Johnson and Shane Warne for their criticism of Starc, especially when he closed in on the record strike rate.

But Starc has an enviable record in Test cricket and, as Alyssa said, no one can take that away from him.

 

 

BRUTAL TRUTH ABOUT SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka arrived in Australia with a fairly low-key entry, with plenty of soul searching to do from the Australians.

India's record victory over Australia in Australia left plenty of selection headaches with the ascension of Kurtis Patterson and Jhye Richardson to the top side.

But things aren't all right in Sri Lanka.

The side has come from New Zealand where it lucky survived the first match thanks to rain, before losing the second game by 423 runs.

Sri Lanka then lost the three-match one day series 3-0.

On top of those issues on the field, an ICC Anti-Corruption Unit investigation has been launched in Sri Lanka with the players being granted a 15-day amnesty to report previously undisclosed information.

After being humbled for 144 in their first innings with Australia heading towards a first innings lead at the close of day one, Fox Cricket commentator Michael Vaughan said it was a bad look for Sri Lanka.

"This is not great for Sri Lanka, we have to be brutally honest," he said.

"They've come from New Zealand, they should be better prepared. They knew the ball was going to bounce, I really worry about their cricket when there's no Angelo Matthews here.

"There are corruption conversations going on, there's an amnesty going on right now in Sri Lankan cricket. I do worry about Sri Lankan cricket because they've been fantastic to watch for many years, produced wonderful players and this team here is not the Sri Lankan sides that I've watch over the past few years."

Yesterday, former star Russel Arnold said the inquiry would drive a wedge between the side

"I would be surprised if none of this is in the back of their mind," said Arnold, who played the last of his 44 Tests for Sri Lanka in 2004.

"Whether they can trust their teammate, whether they can trust anyone's instructions or game plans to carry out. It has to worry them.

"Trust does take a beating. You tend to wonder what the hell is going on."

Following last month's ICC meeting in Dubai, Sri Lanka's sports minister Harin Fernando said the world body had ranked the country's cricket administration "corrupt from top to bottom".

The ICC said players can be suspended for up to five years for failing to pass on information but anything reported during the January 16-31 amnesty would not attract a charge.

Asked if Sri Lanka's players could block out the controversy while in Australia, Arnold said: "It is easy to say but I doubt it happening because anything around (the team) will certainly worry players.

"They are all human. Even we (outside team) are feeling a little nervy about what we are hearing."

The ACU probe has been bubbling since late 2017 when 40 cricketers - including national captain Dinesh Chandimal - petitioned Sri Lanka Cricket to investigate allegations made by ex-player and selector Pramodya Wickramasinghe.

Former quick Wickremasinghe alleged there were "unnatural match patterns" and player selections.

Former captain and selector Sanath Jayasuriya was charged in October by the ICC for refusing to co-operate with the ACU but denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, ex-Sri Lankan bowler Dilhara Lokuhettige was also charged last year for violating the anti-corruption code relating to a 10-over league clash in the United Arab Emirates.

And ex-paceman and bowling coach Nuwan Zoysa was provisionally suspended by SLC over match-fixing accusations.

- with AAP

 

KHAWAJA'S KRYPTONITE SNAPS RECORD

Sri Lanka needed something to cheer about.
Sri Lanka needed something to cheer about.

Usman Khawaja does not like facing Sri Lanka's Dilruwan Perera.

This is only Khawaja's fifth matches against Sri Lanka in his career and just the third with Perera in the side.

Yet the 36-year-old off-break bowler has dismissed Khawaja four times, and in an even more stunning stat, in his last three balls to Khawaja, has taken his wicket three times - all bowled.

The last time the pair faced each other was in Sri Lanka in 2016 with Perera bowling Khawaja for 11 in the first innings, a golden duck in the second and now getting the Aussie first drop to chop on in Brisbane.

It also broke a 21-Test streak since Khawaja had last been bowled in a Test match, dating back to a match against South Africa in early-November 2016.

Justin Langer said Khawaja had been frustrated by his form.

"He's had some good starts against the white ball and Test cricket (but hasn't converted them)," Langer told SEN on Tuesday.

Khawaja is struggling against Perera.
Khawaja is struggling against Perera.

"I can't help but think, we didn't rush him back, but he had that knee injury after the UAE and he's just finding his feet again," Langer said.

"He seems fine, he's in the best physical condition of his life, he's training hard and playing well.

"We've just come off a series against India who has a fantastic fast bowling attack as well.

"We need him to stand up, he knows that. He's our most senior batsman.

"He's playing well ... he just needs, and we need, him to turn some of those starts into great hundreds for us."

Mark Waugh led the criticism of Khawaja.

 

Maybe Australia need a specialist coin flipper.
Maybe Australia need a specialist coin flipper.
 

PAINE'S HORROR TEST RECORD

Tim Paine has become the unluckiest captain at the coin toss of any player to lead his country in eight or more cricket Tests.

In his eight Tests, Paine has won one toss - that coming in his only win as captain in Perth against India.

Thursday's first Test toss at the Gabba won by Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal left Paine with a winning percentage of 12.5 per cent, the lowest of 173 players to captain their country in eight or more Tests. "Lose the toss, win the match," said an optimistic Paine.

He takes the record from Frederick Brown, who captained England 15 times shortly after World War II and won only five tosses.

Not that all that bad luck can be attributed to Paine directly, given five of his Tests have been at home where the touring captain has the call.

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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