Big win has Australia captain optimistic over Ashes defense
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s innings and 40-run win over Sri Lanka in the first test has convinced captain Tim Paine that depth is building for a successful Ashes defense.
But Paine said Australia still had a long way to go after its day-night win inside three days over Sri Lanka at the Gabba, where Australia has not lost a test match since 1988.
Australia still does not have a batsman who has notched a century this season, and Pat Cummins had to rely on a bouncy Gabba wicket to become the first Aussie bowler to record a maiden 10-wicket match haul.
Yet Paine believed the signs were good for Australia’s test team to clinch their first Ashes series win in Britain since 2001 when the five-test series begins Aug. 1 at Edgbaston. Australia won the last series in Australia in 2017-18, winning four matches with the fifth drawn.
“There’s no doubt you have to have options to adapt to different conditions but what we are seeing over the last 12 months is that we have developed depth in all our areas before we go to England,” Paine said.
The positives included Travis Head notching 84 runs in Australia’s first innings of 323 runs, the hosts’ highest individual score of the summer. And middle-order batsman Marnus Labuschagne had a career-high 81.
Then there was the impressive debut of rookie West Australian fast bowler Jhye Richardson, who claimed match figures of 5-45 against Sri Lanka.
After enduring a 2-1 series loss to India, Paine is encouraged by Australia’s Ashes prospects before suspended skipper Steve Smith and deputy David Warner re-join the team in the wake of last March’s ball-tampering scandal.
For Sri Lanka, the only bright spot was the batting performance of wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella. Dickwella backed up from his 64 in the first innings to hit four boundaries in his second innings of 24.
“Dickwella is an experienced player who can play the role the team wants,” captain Dinesh Chandimal said.
Fast bowler Lahiru Kumara could not take the field for Sri Lanka due to a hamstring injury. He has been ruled out of the second test against Australia beginning Friday in Canberra and next month’s Sri Lanka tour of South Africa.
Chandimal said Sri Lanka would need to be more positive with the bat in Canberra.
“We are really disappointed as a team,” Chandimal said. “Our batting was below par throughout the game.”