|Michael Hussey of Australia has cemented his place in the Australian line up [GALLO/GETTY]|
Australian cricket fans are hoping the 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka is proof of a seamless transition for Australia into the post-Warne and McGrath era.
Australia won by an innings and 40 runs in Brisbane and by 96 runs in Hobart against a team that came to Australia with a No. 2 ranking and with Muttiah Muralitharan bidding to break Shane Warne’s bowling world record.
Australia’s batsmen so dominated an understrength Sri Lankan attack that the tailenders never got to bat.
Sri Lanka got just 11 wickets in two matches, Muralitharan getting four of those.
Phil Jacques, coming in for retired opener Justin Langer, scored 100, 150 and 68 in his three innings and Mike Hussey scored two centuries and an unbeaten 34 to boost his test average to 86.18.
Brett Lee, spearheading the attack for the first time since Glenn McGrath retired in April as the most successful test fast bowler of all time, was player of the series with 16 wickets, a symmetrical four per innings.
He got strong support from new left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson.
“It was one of the highlights of the series for us to see the new guys have such a great personal impact as well as slot into their role in our team and feel comfortable in the environment,” said Tim Nielsen, in his first test series as coach.
Nielsen replaced John Buchanan after Australia’s third consecutive title at the World Cup.
|Stuart MacGill: A miserable series [GALLO/GETTY]|
However, look to have struggled to have effectively replaced Warne.
Stuart MacGill, the long-time heir apparent, is out of shape and out of form following knee surgery.
“He bowled well in Brisbane, he didn’t bowl as well here,” Nielsen said.
“He realises that he has got some work to do physically to get himself up to a level which is going to allow him to play back-to-back test matches and fulfill the role that we need him to do, which is to bowl big blocks of overs on end to allow our quicks to keep churning away from the other end.”
MacGill returned 1-102 in the second innings in Hobart, when he bowled four no-balls, some rank full tosses and was hit out of the game.
“He’s had some great days and he’s had some ordinary days and yesterday wasn’t one of his better days,” Nielsen said.
“The challenge for us now is to assess that and find where we can get him physically right and aim for Melbourne to get him to play as well as he can.”
Australia plays India in four tests starting December 26 in Melbourne.
India’s top batsmen excelled on their last tour to Australia, and the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are expected to return this time.
They’re all well accustomed to playing spin, meaning Australia can’t risk playing MacGill if he’s not fit.
“If you can’t physically cope, and it’s just not Stuart MacGill, there is no way they can give themselves the best chance of executing their skills to the level they need to be successful,” Nielsen said.
“Stuey has some work to do.”
Beaten captain Mahela Jayawardene expected India’s experienced batting lineup to pose more of a challenge to Australia’s line up than his Sri Lankan side had this series.
“They play hard, competitive cricket and play pretty well,” Nielsen said.
“We have to focus on what we’re doing, make sure we’re as well prepared as we can be and get ready for India to come at us pretty hard.”