Australia expects their pace bowlers to be a point of difference against Sri Lanka, with Mitchell Starc ready to deliver the same performance that helped him star in 2016.
- Australian coach Andrew McDonald will resist the temptation to use an extra spinner in the first Test against Sri Lankia in Galle
- Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green are expected to hold their place in the squad
- The hosts are expected to deploy a spin-heavy attack
Australia will enter Wednesday’s first Test in Galle with Starc and Pat Cummins as the two frontline quicks, while Cameron Green will act as a genuine third seamer.
The majority of the focus in Galle remains on spin, as Australia consider whether to partner Jon Holland or Mitchell Swepson with Nathan Lyon.
The hosts are also expected to go in with a spin-laden attack, using five tweakers in a recent ODI and often only picking two seamers in Asia.
But coach Andrew McDonald wants Australia to do it their own way, not tempted to discard Green’s ability as an all-rounder to find an extra spin-bowling option.
“We feel as though our fast-bowling here is a point of difference,” McDonald said.
“People are talking about spin, spin, spin. Mitch Starc had a fantastic impact here last time, Pat (Cummins) will open with impact as well.
“We probably have to do it slightly differently to our opponent as well. We can’t be them. And we don’t want to be. We want to be us.”
Australia’s quicks have been unable to bowl to batters in training in Galle, with the run ups not long enough in the nets and centre practice wickets not up for batting on.
Another challenge could await in their bid to make the ball reverse swing like it did in 2016, with the square around the dry wicket well watered in recent days.
The visitors will hope a breeze off the Indian Ocean will have an effect, while the practice pitches on the edge of the square can still provide abrasive turf helping the ball scuff up and reverse faster.
Starc is easily Australia’s best exponent of the reverse-swing art, having got the ball to go early in 2016 as he took 24 wickets at 15.16.
“The blueprint is still the same,” he said.
“It’s similar characteristics to what we have just come from Pakistan, with the conditions playing a part with reverse swing.
“There has been a lot of cricket since (2016) but I don’t think my role or game plan has changed dramatically since then.
“There have been a few technical things in those six years that have probably gone full circle. I’m just more experienced and older.”
Starc has been cleared to return from a cut finger for the Test after three weeks out, and has no concerns over rhythm after finding a way to perform well without bulk cricket during the pandemic.
“It’s funny because I have always felt like big gaps have hurt my rhythm,” Starc said.
“During the season I needed that time to bowl.
“Maybe that has been less of a need the older I have got and more comfortable I have been in my mindset.”