Performances of note
England can check out Australia close up as Ricky Ponting's side play Sri Lanka, says Ian Harvey.
Last Updated: 03/11/10 4:54pm
England could be the biggest winners at the end of Australia's one-day series against Sri Lanka.
They will already have pencilled down some notes about several Aussie players after watching Sunday's Twenty20 international, small things that may help them in the Ashes, and, I guess, will probably be hoping that Sri Lanka sap a little bit more confidence out of an Australian side that hasn't won an international match since July.
Personally, I don't think that the outcome of the next three one-day games will have a massive influence on the Ashes because the side that turns out for the first Test at the Gabba on November 25 will be considerably different from that which faces Sri Lanka over the next five days.
After a couple of good, really hard Tests in India, Australia will be glad to have the opportunity to get some more quality cricket under their belts - and make no mistake, this Sri Lanka side is very strong in the shorter formats of the game.
Michael Clarke admitted after Sunday's defeat that his side was completely outplayed and sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition rather than look at the negatives.
Sri Lanka didn't allow them to get into the game; they executed their plans a lot better and really sized up the conditions a lot quicker than Australia did.
I like the balance in their batting line-up; they've got good blend of experience and youth at the top of the order as well as a nice mix of innovation, thanks to players like Tillakaratne Dilshan, and guys such as Mahela Jayawardene who can play good cricket shots.
At times it looked like Australia were the touring team - but perhaps that's not surprising given the turnaround they've had coming off the Indian tour.
Another stiff challenge is just what they need going into this summer's Tests and every player will want to put runs on the board and take wickets to press his claims for an Ashes place that little bit further.
It's an opportunity for Clarke to build on the century he scored in the second one-dayer against India at Visakhapatnam and a great chance for Peter Siddle and the rest of the bowlers to get good run out before that first Test.
I'm sure England will have noticed that a couple of the Australian players struggled against the new ball on the bouncy, quick wicket at Perth on Sunday.
Funnily enough Clarke was one of them; he normally plays the short ball quite well but after getting a bit of a going over in India he didn't look quite as secure early on in that innings and it will be interesting to see how he goes in this one-day series, particularly if Sri Lanka adopt the same tactics and bowl back of a length to try to get under his skin.
Likewise Ricky Ponting - who will miss Wednesday's game to attend a family funeral - has been one of the best players of the short ball in world cricket during his career but, as often happens with age, he perhaps doesn't play it quite as well as in his youth. Again, England will watch on with interest when he's at the crease.
I don't have any worries about Michael Hussey's form going forward even though plenty of people are saying he's under pressure; a bit of time in the middle is all that's needed to help him get back into the right mind-set.
The same goes for Siddle, who is now ready to get some decent overs under his belt, and Mitchell Johnson; the selectors will definitely be eager for both players to bowl themselves into Test form.
The selectors should have a good look at the slow bowling of Xavier Doherty in the next three games. Nathan Hauritz struggled to make an impact in India and Steve Smith hasn't bowled that well for Australia yet so it's an area that definitely needs addressing before the Ashes begin.