Michael Clarke hopes Australia's crushing victory over Sri Lanka sends Ashes warning
Australia 460 Sri Lanka 156 & 103 (Australia win by an innings and 201 runs)
Saturday 29 December 2012
Australia captain Michael Clarke wants his side to use their crushing second Test victory over Sri Lanka as a platform for a 2013 calendar which includes a tour to India and the Ashes series in England.
Australia earned an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series after thrashing Sri Lanka by an innings and 201 runs inside three days at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Trailing by 304 runs after the first innings, Sri Lanka were skittled for just 103 in their second knock, albeit with Prasanna Jayawardene (broken thumb) and Chanaka Welegedara (hamstring) both unable to bat due to injury. They also saw star batsman Kumar Sangakkara retire hurt with a hand injury when he was on 27 on what was a miserable day for the tourists.
Things could hardly have gone better for Australia, though, and Clarke is hoping to see his side use this match as a base for future performances.
"This is our standard now, we've got to continue to get better from here," he said. "I think we need to be realistic as well. It's about consistency. It's nice we've done it in the first two Tests against Sri Lanka and it's great we've won the series, but we have a lot of work to do as a team."
Australia will aim to seal a 3-0 series whitewash when the final Test starts in Sydney on Thursday, after which they face Sri Lanka in five one-day internationals and two T20s.
Clarke's men will then tour India in a four-Test series during February and March before the Ashes start in England in July.
"I was really impressed with the way we kept Sri Lanka out of the match throughout the whole Test. That's something we will need to make a habit of going forward with some important series coming up," he said.
"Our aim is to repeat our effort here in Sydney and win the series 3-0. We've still got a lot of improvement to do as a team but it's a really positive step for this team to see that we are improving."
While Australia hope to go from strength to strength, Sri Lanka have been left with plenty of problems to contend with – including the reported loss of star batsman Sangakkara for the remainder of the tour.
The reigning ICC Test player of the year was struck on his left index finger from a delivery from paceman Mitchell Johnson and, after immediately leaving the field with excessive swelling to his hand, was taken to hospital for scans which revealed a compound fracture.
The loss of Sangakkara, plus the other absences of Prasanna Jayawardene and Welegedara, clearly aided Australia's victory charge but while Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene admitted the injuries were frustrating, he said they could not be used to excuse his team's performance.
"These are things that we can't control, [but] they are not excuses. Still with those guys playing we probably would have got beaten," he said.
"We started the tour off pretty well with the Test match in Hobart [which ended in a 137-run defeat] but here we seemed to never get anything going for us. We just gave up."
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