Morning all. I’ve set up this thread so people can discuss the 1st test as it ebbs and flows. I’ll be updating it with reports as I go along. Instead of doing individual daily reports I’ll post everything here. It’s a bit of an experiment to see what works best.
I can see this turning into an ongoing journal of the action. It might be fun to see how emotions change quickly on the same thread. Feel free to discuss all the action in the comments. Cheers.
Shortly after lunch, when England collapsed to 83-5, I was beginning to think that Sanath Jayasuriya was right all along. Maybe Sri Lanka do have the best bowling attacking the world? I’m joking of course. England’s batsmen were to blame for the team’s predicament more than excellent bowling – although the medium paced Shanaka did bowl very well in the conditions. In fact, he brought back fond (or should that be not so fond) memories of Neil Mallender and Tim Munton.
The main culprits were our two best players, Cook and Root. The captain’s wild slash was out of character and a hideous shot. It’s almost illegal to criticise the skipper, especially as he’s about to break a remarkable record, but his dismissal was a total horror show. Joe Root shouldn’t be too pleased with himself either. Perhaps over-confidence got the better of him. The ball wasn’t quite there to drive – especially for a batsman who’d just arrived at the crease. James Vince’s dismissal was quite similar.
The only batsman who can escape blame was the hapless Nick Compton. Anyone can edge a decent ball at the start of their innings but it just seemed so inevitable. The poor guy is woefully out of form and looks like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. It’s no secret that he wouldn’t be anywhere near by preferred England XI, but it’s impossible not to feel sorry for him.
The main talking point yesterday was Alex Hales’ unbeaten 71. Did he play well? Yes I suppose he did. Especially for Alex Hales. He left the ball a lot better than he did in South Africa, and was relatively patient, but I still don’t find him particularly convincing. He just doesn’t look like an opener to me. He’s obviously got a lot of talent, but I think he’d be more at home down the order. After all, that is where he started his career.
It will be interesting to see if Hales can complete his century today. It would be a real feel good story if he did. However, it’s worth remembering that both Adam Lyth and Sam Robson scored their solitary test centuries at Headingley. Runs here, against a very moderate attack, doesn’t mean that Hales has proved his critics wrong. Not yet anyway.
The real star of the show for me yesterday was Jonny Bairstow, who looks like a completely different player these days. The uncertainty has evaporated. Instead he looks composed, positive and full of runs. There was one lusty drive through extra cover, with a free flowing follow through, that had purists drooling. It was a dismissive shot that had high class written all over it. After Ben Stokes unsightly dismissal yesterday – he really is hit and miss – I would seriously consider promoting Jonny to six.
Well, Friday ended up being exactly what many of us feared before the series: a one/sided affair in which the hapless Lankans were simply blown away. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad were simply too good for them. It was a bit like watching Glenn McGrath bowl to England at Lord’s. You thought there might be a wicket every single ball.
Although the Sri Lankans struggled mightily – like many teams from their part of the world do in overcast English conditions – they didn’t do an awful lot wrong. Many of the wicket-taking deliveries were absolute beauties that would’ve dismissed players a lot better than them. Sometimes there’s little batsmen can do against perfectly pitched out-swingers early in their innings.
The bottom line is that this match is likely to finish on Saturday if the weather allows. Unless Mathews plays a blinder and finds an able partner, I can’t see Sri Lanka batting out the day. It’s unfortunate for those of us who wanted to see a contest, but I guess an England victory within three days is what most of us expected.
Before I sign off, I’d quickly like to mention Jonny Bairstow. What an excellent innings. To score half your team’s runs is a brilliant achievement in itself, but when you’ve come in as low as seven it’s sensational. Well played mate. You were completely dominant.
Well that’s your lot folks. Sri Lanka’s second innings was much like the first: short and not so sweet. The tourists were completely blown away in bowler friendly conditions. They showed little backbone but they have my sympathy in a way. Not too many sides would’ve survived long out there. An inexperienced team with little batting pedigree stood no chance.
Jimmy Anderson stole the show with ten wickets in the match – the third time he’s achieved this feat in test cricket. He’s irresistible when conditions are just right for him. There was swing and plenty of movement off the pitch. It was a total masterclass.
Personally I hope conditions at Durham in the next test are a little more batsman friendly. This might be wishful thinking, as apparently the sun hasn’t shone at Chester le Streer since 1974, but another totally one sided contest is the last thing test cricket needs. It’s always nice to see England win of course, but it’s not very satisfying when it’s all over in two and a half days. We didn’t even have to work hard for it.
It’s not often that a team wins inside 3 days by an innings after scoring less than 300 in their first dig. On paper it’s incredibly impressive. I’m just not sure what it all means. Are England turning into a very good side or does the result say more about Sri Lanka and the standard of test cricket in general? It might be a combination of all those things to be honest.