In 2010, a meaningless one day competition against Sri Lanka just prior to The Ashes was given as poart of a multitude of reasons as why Australia were so desperately under prepared for the biggest test series in the calendar.
Whilst England hardened their noses against shield teams and then a strong Australia A, the Aussies played a quickly forgotten, intensity-free 3 match 50-over series against Sri Lanka. The only thing that series will be remembered for is a 10 over spell from Xavier Doherty on debut that catapulted him into test match obscurity and trivia night frustration. ‘Name the left-arm spinner picked to trouble Kevin Pietersen by bowling 6 half-trackers per over’.
I have a feeling this test series against Sri Lanka may be having a similar effect on Australia’s thinking prior to England in 2013. A Sri Lankan team so ravaged by injury and indifference, that they could barely make it to tea on the 3rd day of the test just finished. A Sri Lanka team spearheaded by a batsman who’s been averaging 15.64 in his last 12 innings. A Sri Lanka team who’s appalling application in the field makes a commentary stint from Gus Fraser seem dynamic by comparison. A Sri Lankan team so utterly distracted by their own board who, through disciplinary action, corruption, and inability to pay their players, threaten to redefine the newly crowned word of the year ‘Omnishambles’.
Which is why any performance by the Aussies here needs to be taken with a proverbial pinch of salt. The re-emergence of Mitchell Johnson may be more of a misplacement of the body than a rolling away of the stone from the tomb. For every frightening nose-breaker, he served up 3 or 4 half volleys. You can be assured that England will be more determined to put the bad balls away and more adept at dealing with the snorters than the limited-overs specialists of Sri Lanka. And all that will come AFTER the crowds have chewed him up and spat him out.
Will Glenn Maxwell play in England? There are several factors at play here, with each one delivering you to an emphatic answer of ‘No‘. The last one day specialists employed in Ashes series read as such; Steve Smith, Mark Ealham, Michael Bevan, Simon O’Donnell. Whilst I like Maxwell as a cricketer, you can very much put him in the aforementioned category.
Sri Lanka are in Australia because South Africa refused to give up playing their own Boxing Day test match. The fact that they turned out in coloured clothing to slaughter New Zealand in T20 on the 26th has certainly risen many an eyebrow in Australia.
In summary, what’s the point of this series? You get the feeling that playing their bats like an air guitar to AC/DC in the Big Bash would be better preparation than this aberration.