After dominating against Sri Lanka’s spinners on slow pitches during the limited-overs leg of the tour, David Warner, the Australia captain, suggested that the performance was mostly down to the determination of the side.
Australia, who were swept 3-0 in the Test series mainly because of their inability to tackle Sri Lanka’s spinners, bounced back in the five-match One-Day International series, winning it 4-1. They then backed it up with stellar displays in both the Twenty20 Internationals.
“The guys showed a lot of determination and fight to overcome the conditions, which were very, very challenging and something that we are not used to,” said Warner after the team’s four-wicket win in Colombo on Friday (September 9).
“We knew once the shine got off the ball, the ball was going to spin consistently. In one-day cricket it’s a bit different — you can’t have two in close with slip and a leg slip. It’s just not possible. The reverse sweeps, sitting in the crease to pinch the ones and twos, and rotating the strike, are all much easier in this game than in Test cricket.”
Warner, who took over from Steven Smith mid-way through the ODI series as the regular skipper returned to Australia, also criticised the pitch at the R Premadasa stadium for the second T20I, which saw Australia restrict Sri Lanka to 128 and cross the line with four wickets and 13 balls to spare.
“This wicket was the toughest,” he pointed out. “The wicket probably wasn’t up to scratch in the games. In the last game at Pallekele (which Australia won by 85 runs after putting up 263), the wicket was outstanding — I know we played 260, but both teams felt the wicket was very encouraging. We could hit over the top. There was nice, consistent bounce.”
Warner also admitted that although they won in the two abridged formats by handsome margins, it was a scrap at best but it was the kind that gave his side confidence going forward. “The Test series is not playing on our minds, it’s done and dusted,” he suggested. “It is what it is, we lost the series, and we have to move forward. To bounce back from that, it was a phenomenal effort by the boys to adjust to these conditions which we normally aren’t used to.
“You saw scrappy cricket during the one-day series, where the highest score was 280 here. And then we were scrapping to get to 200. It was good, grinding cricket. It was something that we’re not used to. We’ve worked really hard to win both series.”
Among the highlights was Glenn Maxwell’s return to form in the T20Is after being dropped from the ODI squad. Maxwell, who has been out of sorts with the willow for an extended period of time, was included in the T20I side and promoted to open with Warner in the absence of Aaron Finch. Maxwell repaid the faith with a smashing 65-ball 145 in the first game and a 29-ball 66, equalling the Australian record for the fastest T20 half-century in 18 balls, in the second.
“He was disappointed he was left out. He didn’t have the runs under his belt. The way he came out and played in the Twenty20 format, we know he’s very, very good at this game and that’s why he’s here,” said Warner. “When you get the opportunity, you always try to grab it as much as you can. He’s been given that opportunity in the first six. He’s a very good player of spin inside the first six. He can chance his arm, he can reverse sweep and sweep. What he did today and the other day was no fluke. That’s exactly what he can do when given the opportunity.”
But for anyone thinking Maxwell’s performances justifies a permanent move to the top of the order, Warner shot down the possibility: “There’s no reason for him not to replicate his performances lower down the order. Once Aaron Finch comes back in, he’ll (Maxwell) probably have to move down the order and assess what his game plan is again. We’ve seen him do it at the top, we’ve seen him doing it in the middle — there’s no excuse.”