By Aaron Callaghan
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The Australian mens national cricket team recently wiped the floor with the hapless touring Sri Lankan outfit two - nil. This came after losing a test series to an Indian side at home for the first time ever.
But did the glutton of runs and wickets in Canberra really mean anything? What can we take away from the summer of cricket and the recent two test Sri Lanka series?
In digesting the cricketing summer and it's outcomes, we are left with infinitely more questions than answers. Starting and finishing with what exactly has Glenn Maxwell done wrong?
Read my Glenn Maxwell piece here - https://www.theunsportsmen.com/blog/2019/1/20/the-maxwell-conundrum
I wanted to ponder what the Sri Lankan series meant and how generally those runs and wickets are being overvalued like a family heirloom brought in to the pawn shop - its not worth nearly as much as the beholder thinks (read: Hi, I'm Rick, welcome to my pawn shop).
The curious case of team line up selections spurred mostly by inconsistent performances led to a fresh faced team for the two test series versus Sri Lanka. Needing runs the top order again failed to post any centuries in Brisbane before the floodgates opened on the town of Canberra and the road centred in the middle of Manuka Oval. Four Australian centuries in the Canberra test capstoned a barren summer for Australians with the bat.
Joe Burns, Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson and Usman Khawaja all ‘tonned up’.
In my opinion it all amounts to nil.
Sri Lanka are abysmal, a bottoming team and their pedestrian attack still had Australia in early trouble.
The Manuka deck would have put a smile on the face of T20 players and cricket Australia bean counters alike. It was a road with beautiful even bounce and pace. Perfect batting conditions.
With an eye looking forward to the Ashes and beyond, it is time to bounce around the batting line up certainties, possibles and probables. Steve Smith and David Warner will come back into the team. Travis Head is showing plenty of potential as a long term solution and most importantly is a good player of spin which is sorely needed. Marcus Harris is one for the future and should, from a solely learning exercise, tour England but be spared from the seaming and swinging Duke ball. Usman Khawaja is cemented in the top order. Kurtis Patterson looks technical proficient against the swinging ball, a neat and compact player looks like a great long term six for Australia. Unfortunately for Joe Burns, a gifted stroke maker, I do not have him in the top six but he is right there ready to step in when required.
Quickly, on the bowling side of the equation, yes Jhye Richardson impressed against the 'Lankans, however that is the problem. As stated Sri Lanka did not bat well. Richardson did bowl well with the pink ball, swinging it with great control.
Mitch Starc - Jeckel and Hyde. We're never quite sure if the real Mitch is going to show up. The bowling attack needs his pace and intimidation.
There are plenty of questions unanswered and we won't know the answers until the first Duke ball is bowled later this year during the English summer.
Drop your Ashes squad in the comments below.
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