Australia’s 2016 Test tour of Sri Lanka was a disaster.
Steve Smith’s comrades were comprehensively outclassed by Sri Lanka’s talented spinners in the subcontinent, defeated 3-0 in a debilitating series whitewash.
In Amazon Prime Video’s documentary series The Test, the second season of which dropped on Friday, veteran opener David Warner was asked to reflect on the tour, where he scored 163 runs at 27.16.
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He rolled his eyes and muttered: “F***ing s***.
“Memories were horrible. I was getting beaten on both sides of the bat with the spinning ball.”
Usman Khawaja was also queried about the 2016 series, during which he was dropped from the side after four failures with the bat.
“2016 tour, what tour?” Khawaja joked.
“Some tours give you nightmares.”
He physically shuddered while reminiscing.
Six years later, Australia returned to Sri Lanka amid an economic crisis to defend the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy in a two-Test series.
Both matches of the 2022 tour were scheduled to take place at Galle International Stadium, where Australia had been rolled for 106 and 183 during their previous visit.
Australia’s spinners bowled superbly on day one of the series opener, with Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson collectively taking eight wickets to topple the hosts for 212 — but the batters knew the challenge that awaited them.
Sri Lanka had picked three strike spinners for the match, and the Galle pitch was a verified raging turner — Lyon’s first delivery of the series struck wicketkeeper Alex Carey between the eyes.
Warner was the first to depart, trapped on the pads by off-spinner Ramesh Mendis after a straight delivery beat his inside edge.
“The f*** do you keep missing those?” he yelled after returning to the sheds, slamming the fridge door shut while retrieving a bottle of water.
But after struggling to twist the plastic cap, Warner chucked the water bottle across the room in disgust and bellowed: “Can’t open the f***ing things!”
Australian No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne, playing his first Test innings in Sri Lanka, fell cheaply after he attempted a reverse sweep against Mendis, picking out the point fielder.
“Any freaking danger?” Labuschagne muttered after entering the changerooms.
“Freaking hell do you pick out the one, you freaking s***?”
But the worst was to come for Australia.
Smith missed a leg glance while facing Mendis in the 20th over, prompting the Sri Lankans to appeal for LBW. Amid the confusion, Smith and Khawaja began scampering through for a single, only for Khawaja to send his partner back with both batters stranded in the middle of the pitch.
Smith spun around and sprinted to make his ground, desperately diving for the crease — but he was run out. Australia’s best batter was gone for 6.
Smith returned to his feet with his white shirt covered in dirt, throwing his hands in the air and shaking his head in disbelief.
He was absolutely livid.
“F***ing run, you ***,” Smith screamed after entering the sheds.
“F***ing smart getting run out on a f***ing wicket like that, that’s good.
The horrendous run out came after an uncharacteristically quiet couple of years for Smith in the Test arena, mustering just one century from his previous 18 matches.
His Test batting average of 39.51 during that period was hardly cause for concern, but it was considerably less than what Australian cricket fans had come to expect from him.
“It wasn’t ideal,” Smith said of the run out on The Test.
“It was a difficult surface, and given I’m probably the most experienced player on those conditions, getting out without being challenged by the bowler probably took me a little longer to get over.”
Australia was saved by Khawaja and young all-rounder Cameron Green, who scored 71 and 77 respectively to help the visitors register 321 in the first innings.
The pitch had deteriorated quickly over the course of 48 hours, with Sri Lanka rolled for just 113 in the second innings, all 10 wickets falling to spin.
Australia had retained the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy. Redemption was complete.
Originally published as Australian team’s Galle changeroom blow-up caught on camera in new documentary