Before the Sri Lanka series gets forgotten, and filed away as a footnote on page 1178 of Wisden’s 2007 edition, here are a few thoughts on the second Test…

How on earth was Brett Lee win the man-of-the-match award?

The speedster bowled well, no doubt, in claiming figures of 4/82 and 4/87 but can anyone explain how that was a better performance than Kumar Sangakkara’s? The Sri Lankan made 57 and 192, taking Sri Lanka to within (distant) sight of an improbable victory before being fired by a spectacular Rudi Koertzen blunder.

The bowlers like to tell us that five wickets equates to 100 runs, which is why they’ve taken to brandishing the ball to the crowd whenever they reach that milestone. Based on that rough mathematical equation, Sangakarra’s 249 runs were the equivalent of 12.5 wickets – about 50 per cent more than Lee’s haul. “Man of the match” should mean exactly that, not man of the match (from the winning team).

Stuart Clark has made a huge impact in Test cricket in a very short time.

But Bellerive’s belter exposed him as a pedestrian trundler on the final two days. With the wicket not helping him at all, Clark was swatted to all parts of the ground, especially by Sri Lankan No.10 Lasith Malinga, who could confidently hit through the line of balls tootling towards him at barely 130kmh.

And, finally, a (rare) pat on the back to Channel 9.

Their commentary line-up has come under fire in recent times for its dreary, beige, formulaic, line-and-length approach. In fact, they’ve been the Stuart Clark of commentary teams. But the inclusion of Mark Taylor, Michael Slater, Ian Healy and Mark Nicholas has freshened up their coverage no end. And the one-sidedness of the Tests has forced them to become more inventive with their work, just to hold viewer interest.

Nicholas’s segment with Muttiah Muralidharan during the lunch break early in the Test, for example, was priceless. Here, at last, we could all see just how Murali bowls his off-spinner, toppie, and doosra. The mysteries were all unravelled and laid bare by slo-mo camera work; we could see the extraordinary suppleness of his wrist and the fact that his elbow was less bent than we might have imagined. No-one has ever bowled a cricket ball in this way before. For anyone with an interest in the mechanics of cricket, this was must-see television.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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