HOBART: Skipper Michael Clarke has vowed there will be no complacency in the Test series with Sri Lanka, insisting Australia will improve on their recent performances against South Africa.
The Australians had the better of the opening two Tests against the world number one Proteas only to be crushed by 309 runs in the series decider in Perth last week.
Sri Lanka are ranked sixth in the world, have not won in 10 Tests in Australia over 25 years and are rated outsiders to upset Clarke’s team in the three-Test series, beginning in Hobart on Friday.
Former Australian quick Rodney Hogg has rubbished the Sri Lankan attack as the “worst ever” to come to Australia, with Nuwan Kulasekara, Shaminda Eranga and Chanaka Welegedara only having 38 Tests and 99 wickets between them.
Clarke said the third-ranked Australia were focused only on beating Sri Lanka in the first Test since 168-Test great Ricky Ponting’s retirement.
“The opposition is irrelevant to how you judge yourself as players,” he said.
“Our goal is not to come out and play the same way against Sri Lanka as we did against South Africa.
“We have to learn from that series, take the positives and I thought there were a lot of positives and the areas where we need to get better, we need to make sure we do that.
“I’m sure that if we improve on the series against South Africa, we’ll continue to have success.”
Mitchell Johnson has been left out for the Hobart Test with Australia opting for the pace attack of Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and left-armer Mitchell Starc, supplemented by swing bowler Shane Watson and spinner Nathan Lyon.
capt. to step down
Mahela Jayawardene said Thursday he will give up the captaincy after Sri Lanka’s current Test and one-day tour of Australia, with Angelo Mathews seen as his likely replacement.
The 35-year-old said it was time for a younger leader and nominated Mathews, his vice-captain, as ideal to assume the role.
Jayawardene’s second stint as captain began in January, when he was called in to replace Tillakaratne Dilshan and he committed to a 12-month tenure, which expires at the end of the current tour.
“I took over the captaincy for 12 months and that ends after this series,” said Jayawardene, who is lining up for his 136th Test against Australia in Hobart on Friday.
“I don’t want to continue captaining Sri Lanka after this tour so this will be my last. I hope I don’t get any SOS calls later on.”
“The strength and advantage we now have in our top four is that all four have opened the batting for Australia,” Clarke said.
“So against the new ball they will be very well suited and if we lose early wickets we’re still very capable against the new ball which is a real positive.”