The calamities of the Pakistan series are continuing to have a massive impact on English cricket – at least for us, the supporters.
Gone is the bullish optimism we flaunted after roasting India last year – a mode which never suited us in the first place. For a few brief months – for the first and only time in our lives – we expected England to win, against any opponent, in any situation.
Not any more. Life has returned to normal, thanks to Saeed Ajmal and co, and once again we expect to lose. Today’s play serves as illustration of this. Six months ago, we’d strut about reducing Sri Lanka to 289-8. Now, it feels like a match-winning score.
The dropped catches – without which we’d now be firmly on top – were the day’s big talking point. Anderson’s caught and bowled was 50-50; Monty’s were gross self-parody. I feel a bit sorry for him really – especially as he’s always worked hard to improve his fielding, and generally has.
289-8 could have been so much better, but it’s probably easy for us, watching at home on TV, nor to realise how difficult the bowling conditions are. The climate is unbelievably hot and humid – and our bowlers did commendably well to persevere through the whole day’s play.
What are your thoughts on Jimmy Anderson becoming the joint fourth-highest English test wicket taker of all time, and the first to pass 250 since Botham. He’s surpassed the entire Flintoff-Hoggard-Harmison generation, and both Gough and Caddick too.
Does his achievement flatter him – or reflect his ability? I’ve recently begun to think we under-rate Anderson – because he struggled early in his career, and because his most penetrating skills are quite subtly expressed, we maybe haven’t realised just how good he’s become.
Just as Jimmy reaches his apogee, so his best mate Graeme Swann appears to enter terminal decline. He had a rotten day, and one that followed an off-colour series in the Gulf. As we suggested a few weeks ago – and repeating it gives us no pleasure at all – the signs are that Swann’s life-force as a test cricketer is ebbing away. Don’t be surprised if we field a single spinner at home this summer – and his initials are MP.
Samit Patel had a very decent first day in test cricket, and two key wickets, but I still wonder whether we should have picked Tim Bresnan instead. He’s a decent bat – and with the ball his varieties , and skiddier style, could have proved more useful than a third spinner. Even more so given that Broad doesn’t seem fully fit.