When Australia toured England last summer, they were beaten 3-0 in the five Test series, with two no-decisions (‘draws’ in cricket-speak), one of which could easily have been an additional loss. Then six months later, England toured Australia and just received a massive drubbing, losing 5-0. Such clean sweeps are rare. I do not recall a previous time when dominance between two teams switched so overwhelmingly in such a short time and I am at a loss to explain it, though to be fair, I have mainly been following the top-line scores and not in detail. I am sure that England and Australian cricket fans can probe more deeply.
But even on a superficial level, it was clear that England’s batting was pathetic. In five-day Test matches, a good team should consistently be able to score over 350 runs an innings but in its ten efforts in Australia, England was able to do so only once, and then barely reaching 353. On six occasions they scored less than 200. They deserved to lose with such a pathetic batting performance.
So why the dramatic reversal in fortunes? Home field advantage is one possibility but does not usually play such a big role. Australia now feels cock-a-hoop after defeating their traditional rival but their big challenge will come soon against South Africa, the team currently ranked the best in Test cricket. They will be playing in South Africa with the first Test beginning on February 12.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is struggling with the fact that they have no decent bowling since the retirement of Muralitharan and Vaas. Opponents are able to score against them with ease, which makes it unlikely that they will do well in the long-form Test format, and will likely only have partial success in the 50-over or 20-over limited format, where batting prowess is more important, and purely defensive bowling that restricts opponents from scoring is as valuable as actually getting them out.