Lankans to test Australian attack

Australia’s 50-over attack is set to come under intense scrutiny from Sri Lanka on Friday after captain Mahela Jayawardene declared Michael Clarke’s bowlers as the weak point in the home side.

The Sri Lankans will enter the clash in Perth as rank outsiders but feel they can apply the blowtorch to an inexperienced attack missing seasoned quicks such as Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson.

In their absence, Australia’s likely attack of Ryan Harris, Clint Mckay, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty and all-rounder Dan Christian have just 55 matches under their belt. In contrast, Sri Lanka’s new-ball pairing of Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara boast 209 games between them.

”Harris coming back after injuries is a decent bowler but I think they’re still missing quite a few frontline guys so that’s an area where we can target,” Jayawardene said.

”We have to be smart to beat them, as simple as that.”

Sri Lanka’s batting line-up, which contains world-class trio Kumar Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, showed glimpses of form against India on Wednesday but will find life tougher against the host nation.

Jayawardene’s comments will come as a surprise to an Australian public which has grown accustomed to seeing its quicks dominate Test after Test this summer, but the side’s limited-overs stocks are still developing.

”Well they haven’t played much together, have they?” Clarke said when asked if his one-day bowlers were as accomplished as their Test colleagues. ”This attack has played one game together. So we’ll see over time.”

None of Australia’s bowlers from last year’s World Cup touring party feature in the current 14-man squad, while Test stars Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus were considered longer-form specialists by the previous Andrew Hilditch-led selection panel.

Young guns James Pattinson and Pat Cummins would also have been in contention to play had they not broken down earlier in the summer.

As impressive as Australia’s fast-bowling depth is, Clarke warned the true test would come in foreign conditions.

”I think the fact we’ve seen so many young guys come in and do well, automatically we think the grass is very green on the other side,” Clarke said. ”We think there’s a lot of good stock still waiting to get an opportunity, which is very positive for Australian cricket.

”There is a big difference, though, playing international cricket to domestic cricket.

”You travel all around the world and play in completely different conditions. It’s been a really good start to the summer winning the Test series, but I guess you are expected to perform well in your own backyard. It’s now going to be a good test to see how we go when we play overseas.”

Australia is yet to name its XI but will not succumb to the temptation of lining up with an all-pace attack despite the success of that strategy in the Perth Test.

Spinner Doherty will play while Queensland’s Peter Forrest is in line to make his international debut.

Forrest’s one-day form for Queensland has been patchy this summer but, with 581 runs at 58.1, was the Sheffield Shield’s leading run-scorer before the last round.

”Fos is a wonderful talent and has been pretty successful for Queensland this year. He’s got a very good technique, he’s a very good top-order batsman and I think he can play a big part in Australian cricket going forward,” Clarke said.

”I think he’s a very gifted player, he’s a good fielder and very good player. Not just in one-day cricket, I think he’s got the potential to play Test cricket as well in the future.

”I think it’s good that Fos is around the group, I think it gives him a great opportunity to see what it’s like around the Australian change rooms and how we go about our work in training and things like that.

”If he gets an opportunity to play, it’s important he makes the most of it, but I’m not sure what 11 players we’ll take onto the ground at the moment. We’ll have to work that out today.” (Sydney Morning Herald)