Aussies have their tails up after victory at Galle’s ‘dustbowl’

2011-09-07 00:00

SRI Lanka’s cricket board could be sanctioned after the Galle pitch was rated “poor” by the International Cricket Council’s match referee Chris Broad.

Australian captain Michael Clarke has slated the Galle “dust- bowl”, saying that day one felt like day five.

This sentiment was echoed by Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, who said the wicket was too dry and made batting difficult.

But is it the pitch that deserves all the blame?

Sri Lanka put themselves under enormous pressure after managing only 105 runs in their first innings in the first Test against Australia.

Despite the conditions, their batsmen lacked application.

In the second innings it was Mahela Jaywardene and Angelo Mathews — falling five runs short of his maiden test century — who showed the Sri Lankans what might have been.

It was a pitch supposedly tailor-made for the Sri Lankan spinners, but the Sri Lankan batsmen were caught off guard by the class of Australia’s debutante off-spinner, Nathan Lyons.

Lyons had a dream Test start with a wicket off his very first delivery and figures of 5-34 in the first innings.

Man of the match Australian Michael Hussey played down concerns over the pitch, saying that tough conditions and variable pitches are what make Test cricket exciting, and I agree.

You don’t hear many complaints about the type of wickets that are produced in India, where massive totals and boring draws are the order of the day.

In my opinion, this type of pitch preparation kills Test cricket.

The second Test match gets under way at Pallakele tomorrow.

At first glance it appears that the pitch will be more of a conventional Sri Lankan pitch than what we saw in Galle.

Clarke will be without the services of Ricky Ponting, who has returned home for the birth of his second child, but is confident in Ponting’s replacement — Shaun Marsh.

Australia have their tails up. Their win at Galle was their first victory on the sub-continent since touring Bangladesh in 2006.

The two-Test series in South Africa will be a completely different challenge for Australia.

Last time the Aussies toured in South Africa the first two Test matches were played on the green bouncy wickets of the Wanderers and Kingsmead. Australia won both.

This time around the first Test match will be played at the Wanderers and the second at Newlands.

We have come to expect a quality Test wicket at Newlands, but at this time of the year there is always a concern about the high water table following the winter rains.

It remains to be seen whether groundsman Evan Flint will be able to produce the same standard of pitch early on in the summer.

For me this is what makes Test cricket great.

Players with real class like Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and Jaques Kallis are able to adapt to changing conditions irrespective of where they play.

Playing cricket on competitive pitches or on wickets which deteriorate over the course of a Test match adds an intriguing dimension to the game.

It produces excitement and draws people to the five-day format which is just what Test cricket needs.

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