What can you take out of a win like that? One so comfortable as to almost feel preordained? One that came both gradually and well ahead of time?
In this summer of flux and frustration, any Australian victory is to be cherished, especially when the scoreboard confirms that this was an absolute thumping.
Not since November 2016 has a Test match in Australia failed to reach a fifth day. This one lasted only a smidge over two and a half days, representing nothing short of a demolition of the Sri Lankans by this young Australian outfit.
But after the last wicket fell, Australia’s reaction was a little strange.
Tim Paine called his team into a group huddle, which in itself is pretty standard post-match fare, but this was a huddle with a difference. It didn’t appear to be an arm-in-arm rallying cry, nor a moment of bonding around a shared achievement.
Paine delivered his messages to hands on hips, smiles and nods. Jhye Richardson told Fox Sports the gist was “if you play like that, you can beat anyone in the world”, but that positive sentiment wasn’t matched by the team’s body language. Paine later said he was expressing his pride to the rest of the team.
It wasn’t just the skipper muting his celebrations. Having taken the match-winning wicket, Nathan Lyon simply turned around and coolly collected his cap from the umpire.
None of this is to say the Australians aren’t proud of the victory, or united in their objectives, or disrespectful of their opposition. Maybe just that this win felt a little too easy, that the creaks and cracks that were present three days ago are still right there in plain sight, unobscured by this one-sided result.
The greatest example of that is the continued struggle of Mitchell Starc, who remains as far away from his best form as ever. It became an unwelcome sideshow even as Australia was romping to victory — while his colleagues found edges with a casual regularity, Starc battled both his own rhythm and Sri Lanka’s defiant swinging before leaving the Gabba empty handed.
It’s hard not to talk about Starc, not when you consider just how pivotal he will be for his country over the next nine months. On a day like this it feels like a non-issue, but come World Cup or Ashes time it’ll be more than worthy of discussion.
But while the result is a happy one, we can safely spend our time talking about happy things. Like Pat Cummins, for example.
A lot of time has been spent admiring Cummins this summer, and quite frankly all of it is deserved. It only took one over on his third day opening salvo to have both teams making rearranged Sunday plans, continuing his solo charge to the tune of a career-best 6-23 — 10-62 for the match.
He’s probably bowled better in recent matches, but Sri Lanka’s top order was in a generous mood and willing to reward Cummins’ effort in a way India has seldom obliged.
Cummins was well supported by Richardson, whose Test debut was a beauty. He is a bowler of relentless energy and admirable craft, picking up another couple of scalps in the second dig — Dhananjaya de Silva became the victim of yet another Jhye jaffer to go with his first-innings castling of Kusal Mendis.
Positives could be found elsewhere too, in the sharp catching of Australia’s cordon and the mesmeric soaring of the man they call Spoon, Kurtis Patterson, in the gully. If, for some bizarre reason, Patterson’s Test career came to an end after this one match, he could at least boast a highlight he could dine out on for the rest of his life.
And maybe that’s the trick when looking back at this Gabba Test that the history books and few others will remember. The good bits — Richardson on day one, Cummins’s last ball of day two, Cummins’s everything on day three, Marnus and Travis in the Friday twilight, Patterson’s lanky horizontal limbs — were actually pretty damn good.
It might not be a win that ushers in a brave new era, but it’s put some smiles on faces and offered at least a little bit of hope. Maybe, in this case, that’s enough.