It has been a while since I posted on this blog. I apologise to followers for that: work has gotten in the way of writing which is something that vexes me greatly.
That said, having watched basically the full day of play yesterday, some similar themes about what it will take to “win” day 4 of this test match have been reverberating around my brain most of the night like a sirens song drawing me to the keyboard.
So, without further self indulgent preamble, here are my keys to success on day 4 at Blundstone Arena:
1. How many runs is enough for Captain Clarke?
Throughout the summer, Michael Clarke has shown good instincts with respect to timing of declarations only to be crueled, on the one hand, by an improving pitch (Brisbane) and, on the other hand, by one of the best rearguard innings since Atherton’s 185 off 492 balls in 1995 ( Adelaide). He is again faced here with the aegis of being one strike bowler under strength so will need to keenly balance batting Sri Lanka out of the game with giving his depleted bowling attack enough time to get the job done.
2. Who is the leader of the Sri Lankan attack and will he please stand up?
This is a Sri Lankan bowling line up that it would be fair to say is short on experience. Whilst Lasith Malinga plies his trade in the heady world of the Big Bash League (I concede he has not played in a test in over two years), the Sri Lankan fast bowlers together boast a collective experience of some 38 tests. In the first innings they looked to be bowling without a leader and, as shown by the lion hearted efforts of P Siddle, they will sorely need one in this innings to keep the Australian total down to a chaseable target. For me, the real key to a successful day for Sri Lanka will be how HMRKB Herath not only bowls but leads this young attack. With 5 left handers in the Australian top 7 and right arm bowlers foot marks growing today is a day made for a left arm orthodox tweaker.
3. Reviews, reviews and more reviews
The need to get the use of the DRS correct again raised its head yesterday with the Sri Lankans wasting their reviews on plumb LBW decisions only to see Herath dispatched by Tony Hill LBW having nearly hit the ball with the middle of his bat first. The Sri Lankan review methodology seems to be that whatever captain says goes so the pressure will be M Jayawardene to consult with this players and make reviews more prudently today. Two early “bad” reviews could, to state the obvious, be costly by the end of the day.
And that is it: how many runs is enough, Herath and the DRS are the keys to today’s play with the position the Sri Lankans are in by the end of the day largely reliant on Herath’s spinning finger.