Matthew Renshaw (centre) trains with his teammates at the Gabba. (Photo: Darren England/AAP)
Matthew Renshaw (centre) trains with his teammates at the Gabba. (Photo: Darren England/AAP)

Can Aussies find what we’re looking for?

DON'T worry about the silverware. Australian cricket is searching for something even more important in its series starting against Sri Lanka - its lost mojo.

Our nation's customary cricketing swagger has been replaced by a furrowed brow.

Confidence has been replaced by caution and confusion. The famed Australian aura is no longer a weapon.

The once withering focus has been replaced by a fog. It stretches from the batting crease to team selections where players have gone in and out of the team with painful regularity.

The two-Test series against Sri Lanka, which starts with the day-night pink-ball Test at the Gabba from Thursday, is the beginning of the road back following a demoralising series loss to India.

In a huge disappointment for fans seeking a new batting hero, Australia decided to leave out 20-year-old rising star Will Pucovski from the starting side. His selection in the initial squad was received as a major breakthrough but the selection panel could not quite muster the courage to play him.

Australia will still field two new Test players, Sydney batsman Kurtis Patterson and Perth fast bowler Jhye Richardson, while Queensland's Joe Burns has won a recall. All are inspiring stories.

Jhye Richardson gets his chance against the Sri Lankans.
Jhye Richardson gets his chance against the Sri Lankans.

Richardson was told as a youngster he was too small to be a fast bowler but it lit a fire within him that has driven him to great heights. His pace and fire could easily rattle the brittle Sri Lankan top order under lights.

This is an era of stunning turnover. At the start of this century Australia went the best part of two years without a Test debutant. There was not a solitary new Test player in the year 2000 and Simon Katich became the first new Australian Test cap of the 21st century in August 2001.

Yet since the great bowling attack featuring Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath was disbanded in January 2007, there have been 57 new caps.

Australia has never felt comfortable in its own skin since the grand Warne-­McGrath era ended with a thumping whitewash of England. Benchmarks were set by superheroes that mere mortals could not live up to.

Mediocrity has never sat well with Australian cricket fans. The search goes on for new stars and new leaders.

Kurtis Patterson also gets a start.
Kurtis Patterson also gets a start.

The promotion of Travis Head and fast bowler Pat Cummins to be joint vice-captains shows that Australia is looking for a new direction.

This should be a fascinating Test. Australia won all four pink-ball Tests it has played. Sri Lanka have won two from two.

"The battle of the day-night kings,'' quipped one press box voice yesterday but there has been nothing regal about Australia's form since the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

Pink-ball cricket is set to play a key role in Brisbane's Test match future - the venue is at its best under lights (when they work) given the sapping nature of Brisbane's daytime heat and humidity.

 

Desperation is building within the Australia ranks.

An Ashes tour looms large this year but captain Tim Paine said this series was still the priority. "We want to win it, not looking further than that,'' Paine said.

Meanwhile, much like the Australian team, the Gabba is on trial as it tries to lift its ranking in the pecking order of national venues from a lowly No.5.

Both teams have suggested they will launch bouncer wars at their rivals, with their plans a nod to the timeless quality of the Gabba pitch

Australia has not lost at the Gabba for 30 years. It is confident that a switch to the pink ball won't mean a sudden dose of red faces.