Morose atmosphere around SCG Test
Tony Greig's death and Michael Hussey's retirement will add to the game between Australia and Sri Lanka.
Tony Greig's death will add to the sad atmosphere at SCG
Sri Lanka go into the final Test of the series at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) with no more than pride to play for, having suffered two overwhelming defeats to the Australians in the first two matches between the sides.
That they will have to do so without their best batsman, Kumar Sangakkara, will not make their task any easier.
They will also be without their leading wicket taker in the current series, Chanaka Welegedara, and possibly their first choice wicket-keeper, Prasanna Jayawardene, whose participation is in doubt due to a hairline fracture of his thumb.
Nuwan Kulasekara, who missed the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne is unlikely to have recovered sufficiently to take his place in the starting line up.
In view of the previous results, and the Sri Lankan injury problems, it is difficult to see them putting up more of a fight than they have done in Hobart or Melbourne, even though Australia have taken the step of lengthening their "tail", by naming wicket-keeper Matthew Wade at No.6 and pace bowler Mitchell Johnson at No.7.
This might be seen as something of a high risk strategy against a stronger bowling attack than the Sri lankan's offer, but in the absence of Welegedara and Kulasekara it isn't anticipated that it will cause the hosts too many problems.
As a result, the Australians will be able to rotate four fast men, keeping them fresh throughout the Sri Lanka innings. However, they may be missing a prime opportunity to assess Glenn Maxwell's bowling performance in the goldfish bowl of a New Year Test at the SCG, before the side head to India in February-March.
It may be a dead rubber, but the Test won't be without emotion. Black armbands will be worn by both sides in honour of the late Tony Greig, who had been one of the leading commentators on Australian cricket for the past 30 years but was a highly popular figure in cricket mad Sri Lanka.
The Test will also see Michael Hussey make his final international appearance in the baggie green cap, having announced that he will retire after the Melbourne Test.