This Australia v Sri Lanka series might only be two Tests long, but it’s one of the most intriguing series in ages. That’s largely because there haven’t been any series in ages, but it’s more because Australia have lost the handiest half of their bowling attack.
Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne were freakish rarities in their own rights, but to have both simultaneously was the most outrageous luxury for the Australian team, but now they’re gone and with this Test we’ll start to get an idea of how things might pan out.
It’s not like Australia are short of talent to call on. Unlucky Stuart MacGill‘s rather slyly taken 198 Test wickets at an average of 27, which is fantastic. We probably won’t precede his name with anything from now on, unless he’s REALLY unlucky and gets overlooked in favour of Brad Hogg. Then there’s the other Stuart, Clark, who’s currently got just about the lowest Test bowling average of all time, 17.80.
Who else? Shaun Tait’s a genuine fast bowler and Mitchell Johnson’s famously ‘a once in a generation bowler’ – although so’s everyone, aren’t they? It’s not like Bob Willis clones are born once every 20 years with exactly the same DNA.
Our feeling is that Australia will cope well enough to maintain their home invincibility, but that they’ll struggle in tougher matches abroad. Glenn and Shane’s replacements might be able to do exactly the same things as them, but will they be able to do them with such agonising predictability?
Mitchell Johnson might have a few outstanding matches, but when Yuvraj Singh or someone’s carting the bowling to all parts, will Ricky Ponting be able to bring him on almost knowing that the wicket will arrive? Glenn McGrath inevitably did that and if he didn’t Warne would.
Like we say, these new bowlers will mostly fare well – Australian cricket doesn’t tend to breed underachievers – but sometimes they’ll have an off day and sometimes the pressure will be on and they’ll crap themselves. They’re only human. We’re not so sure that McGrath and Warne were.
We’re overfacing you now. We’ll stop writing. Although if you’re really keen, here’s even more about the new Australia now that pair of bastards have gone. And the links from McGrath’s and Warne’s names are fairly sensible writing that we’re not ashamed of too. Don’t feel you have to, like.