Johnson and friends make it Australia’s day


Kumar Sangakkara became the second Sri Lankan to reach the 10,000-run milestone in Tests but there was little else for Sri Lanka to celebrate on their first Boxing Day at the MCG since 1995. A day that began with Mahela Jayawardene winning the toss and choosing to bat ended with Australia at the crease and having already nearly passed Sri Lanka’s 156, an awfully disappointing total brought about by some disappointingly awful shot selections from the Sri Lankan batsmen.
Mitchell Johnson was awkward to face, collecting three wickets and breaking the thumb of Prasanna Jayawardene; Jackson Bird was impressively consistent in his first day of Test cricket and picked up two wickets; and Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon also collected two each. Australia’s selectors must have breathed a sigh of relief at the effectiveness of the attack, after their decision to rest the Hobart match-winner Mitchell Starc due to concerns over his workload. Not that Australia did everything right. After a strong opening partnership of 95 between David Warner and Ed Cowan, both openers and Phillip Hughes fell within the space of seven overs late in the day, leaving Sri Lanka a sliver of hope if their bowlers can do some damage on the second morning. At stumps, Australia were 3 for 150, trailing by six runs, and they had their in-form captain Michael Clarke at the crease on 20, alongside the vice-captain Shane Watson on 13. Clarke had been passed fit in the morning, ending speculation that the hamstring injury he picked up in Hobart would allow Watson to become Australia’s 44th Test captain, and he showed no real signs of discomfort while batting late in the day. Both men had been given lives though: Clarke put down by Tillakaratne Dilshan at silly mid-on when he chipped Rangana Herath to the leg side and Watson by the acting wicketkeeper Kumara Sangakkara, who dived to his right and grassed an edge off Chanaka Welegedara.
Sangakkara was wearing the gloves due to a hairline fracture Prasanna Jayawardene suffered while batting, and although he dropped that chance he was part of one dismissal, whipping the bails off at the striker’s end to run Phillip Hughes out for 10. Ed Cowan had worked the ball to the leg side and called Hughes through for a single, but the non-striker’s hesitation led to his demise; Dilshan misfielded and Hughes could comfortably have made the run had he set off immediately.