Island Cricket

Friday, October 26, 2007

John Buchanan believes the Aussies will batter Sri Lanka into submission

Lee primed to lead bodyline

The Australian bowling attack might be undergoing a facelift, but former national coach John Buchanan believes it will batter Sri Lanka into submission in the first Test on the bouncy Gabba wicket.

Speaking in Sydney yesterday for the launch of Ricky Ponting's tour diary, Buchanan nominated Brett Lee to lead the assault in the absence of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne this summer.

"Brett will be your impact bowler. Brett's your wicket-taking bowler. He will be the go-to bowler if and when wickets are required," Buchanan said.

"Sri Lanka and India are two countries that won't enjoy facing Brett Lee, who looks like he is totally prepared for the summer."

With Queenslander Mitchell Johnson and South Australian Shaun Tait in line to join Lee and Stuart Clark in the 12 for Brisbane, Buchanan believes the Australian game plan will be no secret.

"Sri Lanka has consistently found it difficult to play the ball above their waist and that's where Australia will expose them," Buchanan said.

"I think they've got some real question marks over their side and how they will actually handle pace and bounce."

Buchanan nominated Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene and vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara as the only two players who might cope with short-pitched bowling.

He said even veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya could struggle at the Gabba.

Buchanan said things might not get any easier for the tourists for the second Test in Tasmania at Bellerive Oval.

"Sangakkara is obviously a good player who hooks and cuts well, Jayawardene is a bit the same, Jayasuriya can have his moments," Buchanan said.

"But in saying that, he's (Jayasuriya) a bit of an old warhorse now and I think good quick bowling and good short bowling has always unsettled him.

"Then you go to Bellerive and they have produced some really good quality wickets over the last couple of years, so I'm not sure there will be any hiding down there either."

While Sri Lanka might have been the second-best performed Test side over the past two years, Sangakkara knows the challenge awaiting the batsmen on the bouncy Australian wickets.

"Mate, we haven't come here with any doubt that it's going to be a tough series," he said.

"We know what to expect. We've come here with no illusions. We're going to work hard to prepare for anything that comes our way."

While Buchanan was declaring a short-pitched battle, Lee played down talk of a bouncer barrage.

"We have to make sure firstly the conditions are viable to do that," Lee said. "And the thing is even though they're different styles of play, you still have to bowl the right line and length."

Buchanan, though, said it was time for Lee to take the step up as the most experienced paceman in the team. Lee has played 59 Tests, with Clark (9), Tait (2) and Johnson (0) a long way behind.

"I see that Glenn McGrath has told him (Lee) it's his turn to step up to the plate, to be the lead bowler," he said. "I'm sure that Brett would really enjoy that role. He certainly has the experience.

"And as Ricky has alluded to, without McGrath and Warne he's going to have to look at ways and means of utilising his attack slightly differently, of which Brett will be a key part.

Lee said he was happy to assume more responsibility but didn't believe he was under any more pressure.

"It's great to have that role as a strike bowler, but I'm not going to change my game in any way, shape or form to try and adapt to that," Lee said.

Buchanan said Sri Lanka and India would not be anticipating victory in Australia but acknowledged they would be a little more confident knowing they no longer have to contend with Warne and McGrath.

"I think any team that comes to Australia is always very concerned about having to tour here," Buchanan said.

"There are conditions that most teams are not comfortable with, generally the ball bounces a bit more or has a little bit more pace, and then it turns and it turns with bounce.

"But it's a huge boost when you compete against Australia and you don't have to face two of the greats of the game."

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