After nearly two days of cricket, I think it’s safe to say that our batting ‘replacements’ have solidified Australia’s position as the best batting line-up of all cricketing nations. Michael Clarke has certainly stepped up to the plate in this match, Mike Hussey has found his form again, and Phil Jaques was superb. Of course, Ricky Ponting looked like a real champion except for that silly mistake. And Matthew Hayden was Mathew Hayden.
But it’s the batting of the middle order today – Hussey and Clarke – which has just blown everyone away. They squared off with the current best spin bowler and won. They have weathered some real tight fielding and threaded the needle dozens of times to get boundaries. And there’s been no way for the Sri Lankans to stop them. It’s only going to be because of a lapse in concentration by Clarke and Hussey that either of them get out.
The big questions, however, are going to be answered when we bowl. The now ‘veteran’ of the team, Brett Lee, will have a lot on his shoulders, as will Stuart Clark. But the pressure is on Mitchell Johnson to prove that he is better than the other bowlers that do deserve a spot in the current squad (Hilfenhaus, Braken, Tait – though injured). Stuart MacGill doesn’t have to prove anything – he’s Australia’s best spinner right now, and has been the second best the whole time Warne has been around. So all MacGill has to do is go out and bowl – because that’s what he does best.
I’ll do a bigger and better post about the cricket when this first match is over and done with. But let me say: Michael Slater is the best thing to ever happen to the commentary team since Mark Nicholas.