Galle – Day 2

Well this is rather pleasant isn’t it? England are currently sitting pretty with a lead of 177 and all ten wickets still intact. The only thing that can stop us winning this test match is the weather. Famous last words.

The day couldn’t have gone much better. Ben Foakes completed a debut century in the morning – the only other England keeper to achieve this was Matt Prior, who did so in much easier conditions (I was there) – and then England’s spinners tied Sri Lanka in knots. It was almost like a complete role reversal. Most people expected the Lankan twirlers to dominate England not the other way around.

Although I must point out (yet again) that the hosts have looked lamentable, not to mention barely interested in this game so far, England can only beat the opposition in front of them. Huge credit must therefore go to our spin triplets Leach, Moeen, and Rashid. They all bowled really well.

One of the things the media has pointed out is how well balanced our attack looks. They’re not wrong. Although it’s hardly rocket science. If you’re going to play 3 spinners it’s common sense to include an offy, a leggie, and an orthodox left-armer. Fortunately England have such bowlers in their armoury. The dark old days of England picking a four-man attack with two off-spinners are long gone.

Although Mo took the most wickets – more about him later – the bowler who impressed me most was Jack Leach. He showed real control and spun the ball more than billed too. He just looks like a natural to me. His approach is very simple, his action uncomplicated and repeatable, and the ball lands in the right spot more often than not. I hope he plays a lot more cricket for England. He actually gives Root some much needed control.

I thought Adil Rashid also did well. Yes he’s a bit of a luxury, and yes he’ll always bowl at lot of bad balls, but what cannot be denied is that he produces some absolute jaffas too. Batsmen can never totally relax against him. He’s a dangerous customer and he fully justifies his place in the team in these conditions – even if Joe Root still seems a little reluctant to trust him at times.

And now we come to Mo. That’s Moeen “drop the bastard because he’s always crap abroad” Ali. Well, he wasn’t exactly crap today was he! I wrote earlier this year that I’d give up on Mo because he simply doesn’t travel well. I didn’t buy the ‘he was injured during the Ashes’ argument because he’s been very disappointing on every single tour he’s been on. However, today he looked confident, in control, and bowled beautifully. I’m absolutely delighted for him.

Today Moeen drew level with John Emburey on 145 test wickets. That’s some achievement. What’s more, he’s taken these wickets in 11 tests fewer and at a similar average. Although spinners have a somewhat easier ride these days, and DRS makes life harder for batsmen, it’s hard to scoff at Mo’s achievements. He’ll never quite be Graeme Swann – even though he had a slightly better strike rate than Swann at one point in 2017 – but he’s a very handy attacking spinner.

Before I sign off I’d quickly like to mention Ben Foakes’ keeping. Didn’t he do well? The biggest compliment I can give him is that I didn’t even notice he was on the field for the first half hour I watched today. That means there must have been absolutely zero fumbles.

I think Jonny Bairstow has done a very good job behind the stumps in recent years. However, Foakes is obviously a class above him with the gloves. And a couple of classes above Jos Buttler too. Young Ben’s hands are so soft. He could advertise Fairy Liquid.

James Morgan

2018-11-07T18:48:28+00:00November 7th, 2018|SL v Eng 2018|8 Comments


  1. muffin November 7, 2018 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    No comment to make – I just want to reassure James that someone has read his very fair article!

  2. James Morgan November 8, 2018 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Many thanks Muffin 🙂 I didn’t email this out to subscribers but still thought the silence was a bit odd. Is the lack of comments due to the fact that England did really well yesterday so there’s absolutely nothing to moan about? 😉 We’re a miserable lot.

  3. muffin November 8, 2018 at 8:43 am - Reply

    We do tend to moan rather than praise!

  4. Jamie November 8, 2018 at 8:46 am - Reply

    All looking quite rosy, apart from the top order uncertainty that is. The emergence of Leach and Curran could quietly be addressing two issues that have plagued the team for a while.

    Re the top order woes, Jennings seems to be showing himself as a strong batsman away from home. Is Stokes to three now becoming the next best option that is worth exploring? He seems to have some orthodoxy about him, and if it came off, this could simultaneously free up some space for our world class middle order…

  5. James November 8, 2018 at 10:11 am - Reply

    Agree with all that. Just wanted to say I’d read it. Biggest surprise to me yesterday was England making it past 30 in the evening with no wickets down.

  6. Simon H November 8, 2018 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Last winter’s horror show excepted, England since 2014 do have a record of being good in the first test of an overseas’ series. Winning in Durban and having the better of draws in UAE and India didn’t herald some brave new dawn – so let’s be a little cautious about coming to too many conclusions based on one match.

    • d'Arthez November 8, 2018 at 11:40 am - Reply

      Well, it all depends on the toss in Sri Lanka, so whatever the outcome of the next two Tests, does not herald a new dawn, or a delay of it, depending on just that (I predict that all three Tests ,weather permitting, will be won by the side that wins the toss).

      Losing a toss and winning in Sri Lanka, that is the challenge. This applies even to the home side, who will have losing records against all major teams barring New Zealand and Pakistan (both drawn – and those Tests were played when Sri Lanka had a bit of batting available to themselves) after this Test since the start of 2011, when they have lost the toss.

      Since the start of 2013, it will be Toss won 25 games, and lost just 5. That is less than once in a year that any side losing a toss in Sri Lanka has gone on to win a Test there. In England, for instance the W/L record for winning the toss is 26:20 in the same period.

      So well tossed Joe Root. As for new dawn, that can only be confirmed if England do well when they lose the tosses there.

  7. Inland Sailor November 8, 2018 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    It IS very refreshing to see England playing well abroad, isn’t it?

    It shows what happens when you pick the right team for the right conditions, and have the courage to leave out some very good players for the sake of team success.

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