I am yet to see the highlights of today’s decisive victory against South Africa, but from at least the bulletin it looks like Australia has comprehensively proven it remains the world’s best cricket team. And as I guessed, Sri Lanka looks to be the pick of the other nations by some distance, following it’s punishing victory over India earlier this week.
And, despite my doubts, it was Shane Watson who made the decisive play of the match, running out de Villiers to break the opening pair when the Aussies were desperate for a wicket. My favorite left-arm googly bowler Brad Hogg was the leading wicket taker, and both Tait and Bracken took two a piece.
It’s nice to see Michael Clarke get into the runs with 92, alongside Ponting and Hayden’s big scores. Hayden is truly one of the most powerful strikers of the modern game. I recall back during his run-machine days playing for the Queensland Bulls how opponents knew him to be “un-bowlable.” Though that may not be exactly the case, particularly on the international circuit, he remains a difficult player to dismiss, and his strength often wearies opponents into the dirt.
But Clarke, who is much closer to Ponts in that he is defined much more by elegant strokeplay and touch than raw power, was due for some runs, and the team will be that much tougher to beat with all of its top line-up now in good touch. Symonds and Hussey are yet to have had a chance to make a big score, however, which might cause some problems in the unlikely case that an attack manages to run through our top order cheaply.
The most likely way that a side like Sri Lanka will beat us will be to win the toss and bat first. Our attack didn’t seem to trouble the South Africans until wickets began to tumble and the run rate required began to factor into their play; this bodes poorly against other strong batting line-ups. If they manage to post a 300 to 350+ total, and defend well, it will make for a tough chase. If any team’s up to the challenge though, it’s our batting line-up, which has shown tremendous class and depth, not to mention a fierce late-middle order in the likes of Watson and Hogg, who can smash and smash true in the death.
Here’s to a close finals series!