It makes me smile when there’s a solitary T20 bolted on to the end of tours. The scorecard usually reads ‘only T20’ rather than the ‘1st T20’. And it’s true, yesterday’s game was ‘only’ a T20, however, I suspect there might be broader implications to this one.
England’s star bowler yesterday was a spinner, or spinning all-rounder, making his debut. And didn’t he do well. Yes, it was only one game, and even Moeen looked promising in his first few appearances for England, but there was something about Dawson’s 3-27 that really impressed me.
For starters Dawson actually looked liked a proper spinner. His action is repeatable enough and he seemed in complete control of where the ball was landing. When Moeen bowls it looks like he’s busking it. What’s more, there were some subtle variations in flight and speed. Mo basically just bowls the same ball every delivery (unless he drags it down short or accidentally slips in a full bunger).
I’m not saying that Dawson is the second coming of Phil Edmonds, or anything daft like that, but he did look tidy. Maybe my expectations were low – the last time I saw Dawson live he bowled darts (what some might call ‘left arm filth’) – but the improvement is obvious. Let’s not forget that Dawson bats too. If I was Mo, I’d be slightly concerned.
As for the game itself, it was another one-sided affair as everyone predicted. Sri Lanka showed little intent early in their innings, lost regular wickets, and did pretty well to post 140 in the end – even though it was never going to be enough.
All our bowlers did well. Chris Jordan was awful early on but redeemed himself with an excellent final over. Tymal Mills made a good impression on his debut – he bowled briskly although I’ve seen him bowl faster in county cricket – and Liam Plunkett also bent his back and looked sharp. Rashid was good again too.
Although England’s reply got off to a sluggish start – Jason Roy decided to get out for a duck after I waxed lyrical about him the other day – I never doubted that England would win. Jos Buttler was in imperious form as usual and Eoin Morgan spent some valuable time in the middle too.
What did you all make of Eoin’s innings? Although an unbeaten 47 off 39 balls looks pretty good on paper, he was dropped two or three times and didn’t really convince me. He now stands a bit like a baseball player at the crease, with his bat unnecessarily high, and simply hits through the line of the ball with stiff wrists.
There’s nothing wrong with this in theory of course – he’s obviously set himself up to bat like a range hitter these days rather than a first class batsman – but it’s a shame his batting has lost some of its subtlety.
I recall a time when Eoin used to manipulate the ball into gaps quite effectively, was lighter on his feet, and played the spinners well. These days he’s all angular, muscle-bound and mechanical. I’m not sure he’s totally in control when he flays the ball through the off-side either. Everything seems to go in the air. Again, I suspect it’s all in the wrists.
Before I sign off, I’d quickly like to say ‘goodbye’ to Sri Lanka and wish them good luck for the future. Sadly I think they’re going to need it. They weren’t really competitive at all and lost the so-called Super Series 20 points to 4.
Although they failed to beat England in nine attempts (in all forms of the game), I imagine they’ll be a lot more competitive at home. After all, they still have some good players. Herath and Mathews are still class acts, Chandimal is good to watch, and Pradeep kept going admirably throughout the tour.
If Silva and the promising young Mendis can develop into good test players over time, perhaps it won’t be long before Sri Lanka are competitive again. The problem is, it’s not easy to replace legends like Jayawardene, Dilshan and Sangakkara (not to mention Murali).
I sincerely hope they’re not as bad as they looked at times on this tour. World cricket is a better place when Sri Lanka are a vibrant and colourful side.