Mahela Jayawardene. Photo by Reuters
Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene is expecting a
hostile reception at the MCG for today's second Test against
Australia amid ongoing tensions over the ball-tampering
accusation made against Peter Siddle.
Sri Lanka made an unofficial complaint to ICC match referee
Chris Broad during the first Test in Hobart last week. The
allegation was dismissed and Siddle was furious at how his
name had been dragged through social media during day five of
the match in which he claimed nine wickets.
The Victoria and Australia pace bowler is a crowd hero at the
MCG and can expect his hometown fans to be in full voice
today in support of their man.
However Jayawardene is expecting several thousand Sri Lankan
fans to also pack into the ground and make their feelings
known in defence of their team.
Australia's major concern is the fitness of skipper Michael
Clarke, who completed a series of sprinting and fielding
drills and declared he felt good but would wait until
Wednesday morning to assess how his injured hamstring was
"My fitness test ... was really (Christmas Day). Now I need
to see how I pull up from that before we make a decision on
whether I am 100 per cent fit to play," Clarke said.
Despite his side's 137-run loss in Hobart, Jayawardene was in
a confident mood. He said not only would the tourists have
strong support in the crowd but they would also be going
after Australia's offspinner Nathan Lyon, who failed to take
a wicket in Sri Lanka's second innings in Hobart.
Jayawardene needs no reminding about what happened the last
time Sri Lanka played a Test at the MCG in 1995, when spinner
Muttiah Muralitharan was no-balled seven times in three overs
"We have been through a lot of hostile things in the past.
1995 was one and even after that," Jayawardene said.
"I don't think that fazes our team. It might give us
"You have to remember there will be a good partisan Sri
Lankan crowd as well so that will be good. It might go
against him (Siddle).
"We can't control what happens out there. All we can control
is what happens in the middle.
"A lot of the younger guys probably won't even understand
what the crowd's going to tell them."
Jayawardene took aim at Lyon, saying that Sri Lanka's batsmen
were playing for a draw in Hobart on a wearing pitch.
"We would definitely have gone after Nathan Lyon if the
wicket was half-decent," Jayawardene said.
"The way the wicket was behaving we thought if we played
shots that would have made life tougher to bat on.
"On a different surface or a different day things may have
been different. These are the situations we want to get into
in a Test match and see if we can capitalise on that."
While the Lankans see Lyon as a potential problem area for
the home side, the Australians could also be unsettled if
Clarke is a late withdrawal through injury.
Clarke is Test cricket's leading run-scorer in 2012 and his
vice-captain Shane Watson has never led the side at Test
Former Test No.3 Usman Khawaja is on standby for Clarke.
Tasmania's Jackson Bird will make his debut in place of
injured quick Ben Hilfenhaus while Mitchell Johnson returns
for his fellow left-armer Mitchell Starc who has
controversially been rested.