New star arrives but batting remains big issue
Jhye Richardson is the fast bowler who owns his own star and on Thursday night the Aussie Test debutant became one in his own right.
The dismay expressed over Will Pucovski's shock omission from the first Test was alleviated when breath of fresh air Richardson stepped up to be the bowling boy wonder at the Gabba.
However, the familiar clutter of top order wickets left Australia facing the sobering reality that it remains a fragile batting line-up, although opener Marcus Harris' assured survival of the night session (40 not out) was an encouraging sign.
Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja departed cheaply - and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon was dropped in the final over - but Australia will resume at 2-72 and in a strong position already halfway towards parity after Richardson's inspired three-wickets on debut and another haul from Pat Cummins earlier chopped Sri Lanka down for just 144 on day one at the Gabba.
Richardson ripped through the feeble Sri Lankan top order to virtually book his ticket to the Ashes and announce he is capable of putting genuine pressure on the current 'big three' of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins (4-39) for selection in England.
There was an early feeling that veteran Peter Siddle would be the safer bet with the pink ball under lights in Brisbane, but selectors have reaped a handsome early dividend from their bold decision to blood the 'moon man' teammates have dubbed 'E.T'.
As if Richardson's freakish ability to generate rapid speed from his spindly and diminutive frame wasn't extra-terrestrial enough, the 22-year-old also has a unique interest in 'Celestial Real Estate.'
According to sources in Perth, Richardson (3-26) owns land on the moon and along with his brother - also thanks to the internet - they have purchased their own star, named, 'Nigel Strawberry.'
Richardson (three wickets) is a heavy metal fan who doesn't drink, and in his brief time in Australian colours the physical aberration has proven he is very much his own man.
Frustrated that he had fallen out of favour at the start of the summer, Richardson simply let go of the selection stress and concentrated on letting his bowling do the talking as he turned plenty of heads with his decimation of NSW back in November.
"He took eight in the first innings in the Shield game against NSW and I had a really good chat to him over there. He was disappointed he wasn't in the Test squad then but I just said to him if you keep doing your thing you'll get your opportunity," said Blues and Australian star, Nathan Lyon.
"And after a fantastic one-day tournament for himself, he's got the opportunity. I'm a big fan of Jhye. He's a young, exciting cricketer. He's an unbelievable athlete."
Richardson found out he was playing in the late afternoon on match eve, and his parents Jim and Karen scrambled to get themselves on the red eye from Perth to be in Brisbane in time for Damien Fleming to present their son with baggy green cap, No.458.
The message from Fleming was if you're good enough to knock over the best batsman in the world Virat Kohli - as Richardson did in the one-dayers recently - then you're good enough for Test cricket.
Richardson now shapes as a crucial part of Australia's plans for both the Ashes and the World Cup with his express pace built purely on natural athleticism and a fast arm action like West Indian great, Malcolm Marshall.
Australia captain Tim Paine lost his seventh toss in eight matches as captain yesterday, but it mattered little as the battling Test side was welcomed into the warm embrace of a familiar friend.
Quietly frustrated at the flat and slow state of the pitches they were served up against India, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, returning to the bouncy Gabba where Australia has been undefeated in its past 29 Tests was like a homecoming.
It was one of Australia's rare big days in 12 months of heartbreak and pain.
Mitchell Starc finally broke through for his 200th Test wicket, but he still appears to be a long way from his best self.