It took until the final Test of England’s winter schedule, but finally the batsmen delivered in Colombo. The bowlers were superb throughout but were, more often than not, badly let down by the men with the willow.
Sri Lanka hosted a mini two Test series that witnessed some magnificent, and some terrible, cricket. We’ve taken a quick look back at the series below.
Man of the Series
Sri Lankan captain, Mahela Jayawardene, was without doubt the standout performer. He was the only man to pass 250 runs, accumulating 354 at 88.50. His 180 in Galle was an innings of the highest calibre. To put it in its proper context, the next best score in Sri Lanka’s first innings was Dinesh Chandimal’s 27. Mahela was a cut above everyone else (except Kevin Pietersen in Colombo) with the bat.
On top of his runs, Mahela’s captaincy was innovative and thoughtful. His field settings in Galle were, more often than not, spot on and Sri Lanka Cricket must be relieved that he was able to steer the side to first home win since 2010 after a rather turbulent period under the stewardship of the erratic Tillakaratne Dilshan.
What we learnt about…
Sri Lanka – desperately need a couple of decent seam bowlers. None of those available in Test cricket at the moment average below 40. That, for the record, is nowhere near good enough. The opening pair in Colombo, Dhammika Prasad and Suranga Lakmal, both average over 59.5 in their Test careers. Sri Lanka can’t possibly expect to push forward with that sort of attack.
Indeed, of the current crop of bowlers, only Rangana Herath averages below 40. Suraj Randiv and Dilshan bother average just above 40. Long gone are the days of Muttiah Muralitharan (22.67) and Chaminda Vaas (29.58) keeping the opposition quiet for Sri Lanka.
Until such a time as one or two decent bowlers emerge, the shining lights of Mahela, Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera with the bat will be dimmed. Lahiru Thitimanne simply isn’t a Test opening batsmen, either. His return of 28 runs from four innings was appalling. He was outscored by James Anderson and Chanaka Welegedara, who only played the first Test!
With one or two creeping closer to the days of retirement, the future looks anything but bright for Sri Lanka. I sincerely hope this gloomy forecast is wrong.
England – when the batsmen perform, no one can beat this side. This bowling unit is the best in world cricket and I, along with everyone else, am salivating at the thought of South Africa’s visit to England this summer. Every single component of this well oiled unit stood up to be counted. But for Monty Panesar’s laughably inept fielding in Galle, there would be no blemishes in this attack.
For the batsmen, these have been nervy times. Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen have all guaranteed their spots for the summer. Ian Bell and Matt Prior have, too, to a lesser extent. Serious questions are being asked of Andrew Strauss and his second innings duck in Colombo didn’t help.
Yes, under his captaincy England have reached heights that haven’t been scaled by England for some time. But he can’t hang around forever. There is no room for a specialist captain. His first innings in Colombo showed the importance of a solid opening partnership and it was brilliant to see Strauss and Cook stacking up the runs in tandem once again.
Strauss will surely retain his place for the summer’s fixtures, so the only serious question mark in England’s line up is who should bat at six? Samit Patel, I feel, has had his two Tests and that could well be that, unless circumstance assures his place in India later in the year. The leading candidates appear to be Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan and James Taylor. Bopara’s third (and surely final) shot at Test cricket awaits…
By Miles ReucroftTweet
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