Kandy Man

Roooooooot. I love it when Joe scores runs. It’s entertaining to watch and it gives the whole side a fillip. This innings was particularly important because it has established (potentially) a winning position. It was also made against the turning ball when the rest of the batsmen generally struggled a bit. If Alastair Cook had made these runs it would’ve been held up as a shining example of ‘leading from the front’ and etched into a plaque outside Lord’s.

England’s lead is now a pretty handy 278. What’s more, there’s a chance of increasing this target a little bit more tomorrow morning if Jimmy can hang around with the ever-impressive Ben Foakes. Did you know that Foakes was only dismissed once by spin last season in the championship? I didn’t. But it makes a lot of sense.

Although I’m pretty optimistic that England will win from here, I just have this nagging doubt that Angelo Mathews is primed to make a big score. I’m also a little concerned that the innings totals in this game have increased each time. England scored 290. Sri Lanka replied with 336. And England look set to go higher again. Statistically the 4th innings totals at Kandy are the highest of the match, so perhaps we shouldn’t count our chickens just yet.

On the positive side, however, England have a pretty balanced attack these days. Root has options aplenty. Plus it’s worth pointing out that the pitch is slowing slightly. This might make it easier to stay in but it will also make run scoring somewhat harder. Maybe our lead will be worth more it looks? Overall my gut tells me that England will win if we take our chances. Now watch this prediction bite me on the arse.

I’ll be interested to know what everyone made of England’s performance on day 3. Who caught your eye? Once again I was pretty impressed with Rory Burns. He looks very organised and quite mature for a bloke in his second test. He’s now 28 years old, which is quite a good age for an England batsman to start his international career.

I’ve always thought that our batters seem to mature later than our contemporaries around the world, and thus far Burns seems to follow this pattern (although some would say his debut has come a year too late). It’s worth noting that Jos Buttler is now 28 years old too. And he obviously looks like a more complete batsman than he did 2-3 years ago in terms of both temperament and technique.

The only observation that slightly takes the shine off England’s performance, however, was how easy Sri Lanka made it for us. I’m beginning to feel a bit silly after arguing pre-series that the Lankans’ record at home wasn’t too bad and they should be slight favourites. Today they were just as terrible as they were in Galle.

I just don’t understand their approach. They’re so passive in the field and their spinners look very average to be honest. Boy will they miss Herath. Their only excuse is that their captain didn’t help them at all. Lakmal hardly set an attacking field all day, and there were so many gaps in the field that England were never put under any pressure at all. It was far too easy for our batsmen to pick up singles and get off strike.

I’m no spinner myself – in fact I was once described as the worst leg-spinner in world cricket since Bryce McGain – but even I know it’s impossible to set a batsman up if they’re rotating the strike with impunity.

Sri Lanka have made it easy for us all tour. Tomorrow morning they’ll probably emerge from the dressing room with a dustpan to help our batsmen sweep.

James Morgan


  • “England scored 290.” Technically England only scored 285; the other 5 just, um, happened.

    Personally I’m hoping that England win by less than 5 runs …

    • Just listened to an explanation of the rule regarding this 5 run penalty. Unbelievably complicated. Who sits down and comes up with this stuff, and more to the point why?

      • But the core of the rule is the requirement that the batsman’s action be deliberate (that is obvious in rule 41 in that the rule requires the bat to make an attempt to steal a run, which would not be the case if it was simple carelessness). So the only question in this case is whether Roshen’s action was deliberate. As I have said elsewhere, he had the time to take an extra 2 runs and read Lord Boycott’s autobiography, never mind to ground his bat and run the second – so why would he have done it deliberately? Total lack of commonsense by the umpires.

  • As ever, nail on head. Good stuff.

    It’s difficult to believe even Ed Smith left out Foakes because he couldn’t bat. To be fair to old Big Ed I actually think he’s got the Buttler selection (as a batsman, not a keeper) right. Sam Curran did nothing today, but generally continues to impress. I think YJB will struggle to get back into the team (especially if he insists on the gloves, however laudable his reasons).

    The Sri Lankan field settings were indeed lacklustre. I did think at one time we might get the lead over 300 (we might still), but this score is probably enough. The only fly in the ointment here is the rain which curtailed play last night. What will it do to the pitch?

    • This idea that he was ‘insisting’ on Keeping was sort of on the premise he was the third best batsmen in the team as would get in easily so why doesn’t he taken on a tougher position in the middle order, Not the case now is it? England are saying Buttler is a better batsmen as well now.

      If I were Jonny I would be looking for BBL deals, he isn’t going to get back in playing lottery Cricket in April with the ball looping all over the place. Then by the time the World Cup campaign is overs its a full month at the blast with Yorkshire

    • Sam Curran impresses with the bat, but looks like a 4th seamer. In the Sri Lanka innings he barely averaged 80mph. I know it is not a seamer’s tour, but at least Anderson generated some pace and movement. This poses a real problem for the future as we will need at 4 front line seamers against most teams. Perhaps this will be solved by a line up of Anderson and Woakes opening with Stokes and Curran as back up – but it becomes messy when one of the others (Stone?) forces his way in. Perhaps Curran’s future is as a bat and occasional seamer at test level. But there is no shame in that; I believe Rhodes started as the England no11 before moving up to open the batting.

  • I think the pitches are better than other touring sides (Aus, SA say) have got because the SL Cricket board want to keep the barmy army buying beers off them rather than at other venues.

    Beyond that this Sri Lanka side just aren’t very good, Matthews the only Test standard batsmen really, the openers are experienced players and its a shame that Mendis after looking promising here in 2016 has struggled.

    I’m to taking anything away from England but we often talk about England’s domestic Cricket here and what is wrong with it for all its faults its miles beyond the Sri Lanka version and they can’t afford all the Lions style tours England do Foakes a good example of that, been to Sri Lanka quite a few times and in Asia generally.

    • Impressed by Burns, Root and Foakes. The newcomers especially. Hope they deliver on faster pitches. Really good debuts. Root a very welcome chanceless century.

    • South Africa and Australia lost all the tosses in their most recent tours. Which basically defines the result in Sri Lanka these days.

      In fact, when Sri Lanka lost the toss at home, they only have a drawing record against Pakistan (2-2) and New Zealand (1-1), and a winning record against Zimbabwe (1-0; with the caveat that the third umpire practically robbed Zimbabwe of the win). Against all other teams they have a losing record! This is since 2011, thus when the batting was definitely beefed up by Mahela and Sanga for half the time!

  • I have to admit I am finding it considerably easier to support this England team since cook left and broad was dropped. If only they would dump the team psycho and specialist fielder stokes, I’d be right being them again.

    • Gotcha. But there’s no dropping Stokes unless Big Ed can find someone to rhyme with Foakes and Woakes. Is there some young bloke out there called er Blokes?

  • Sri Lanka have lost ALL the games at home where they lost the toss since August 2015. If that does not suggest something fishy is going on, nothing will. With the one exception being the game against Zimbabwe, where they had to thank an incompetent third umpire for allowing them to win the game (the guy did not know the basics of stumpings for crying out loud).

    And one suddenly expects Sri Lanka to be competitive against the trend of the last 3 years? It is a wonder the actual cricket is being played, since the toss dictates the result 90% of the time, with only Bangladesh overcoming the loss of the toss against Sri Lanka in the last 3 years (and Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe, but I still have my doubts about the integrity of that third umpire).

    Seriously, there is no point in the actual games being played, with the way cricket is done in Sri Lanka. Just broadcast 5 days of repeats of the toss – it is as exciting as the actual game.

  • The main encouragement in this test has been both teams relatively orthodox test match totals. Nice to come accross a test, where bowling conditions have been better than batting, yet the first 3 innings have have totalled around the 300 mark. This with teams who have notoriously inconsistent batting line-ups. I know there’s no world class bowler on display here, apart from Anderson, who’s has no encouragement from the conditions, but good to see both teams holding up well to produce a proper red ball contest.
    Nice to see Burns showing some quality and Root finally coming to the party. Still fancy us to win easily but at least Sri Lanks have shown some fight. All they have to do now is win a toss.

    • I agree that it is nice to see totals where they should be for test cricket and tbh, it’s been an enjoyable series but only because both teams are equally poor.

      Sadly however, I’m reading more and more about how grest this England team is and how world class they will become.. that’s why it’s so hard to get behind this mob, people stupidly over rate them rather than enjoying whet they do but being honest and calling a spade a spade

      Englsnd to win easily yet again as SL haven’t yet produced a sandpit

      • Would be interested to know where you’re reading about this England team being great. I’ve never read anything presuming we were close to the finished article. I would say prevailing opinions are that we have one of the weakest test batting line ups of recent years with no established proper spinners or fast bowlers and 2 seamers nearing the end of their international careers with no proven replacements on the horizon.
        As a supporter you don’t wait until a team is world class before getting behind it, but you do big it and it’s players up when they win. As long as you feel your team’s being competitive and making decent use of available resources that’s as much as any supporter can ask and when active support makes a difference. Constant criticism in the face of limited resources can have a debilitating effect on any team. That’s when it most needs support from its fans. Bigging a team or players up is all part of morale boosting and certainly not burying your head on the sand.
        Look at Englands recent footie performances. Yet no one is claiming we have a bevy of world class players, just potential. What we are doing is making good use of limited resources. Success breeds success, wherever it comes from. Confidence is the main player here not talent.

  • Atrocious “LBW” by Ravi just after lunch on Day Four overturned after DRS showed it wouldn’t have hit a fourth stump.

    How is this bloke on the “elite panel”?

    • Probably because he is better than his countyman Shamshuddin who did not understand the law(s) surrounding stumpings, and needed 10 minutes to check that nothing of the shoes of the batsmen was behind the line, to give it ‘not out’

      Oh and can anyone explain why England were not penalised five runs for falsely claiming a catch?

    • The Perera lbw, just before the close, raises an interesting question about how camera tracking judges a full toss. I know from umpiring that, if the ball hits the pad (or foot) on the full you should assume it follows the path it is one, without any allowance for turn when it pitches. However, the Leach ball was an ‘arm ball’, with the ball drifting so that it’s direction of travel was changing toward leg as it got further through it’s flight. The camera tracking seemed to assume it would continue in the direction it was moving at the point of impact with the foot and that showed an ‘umpires call’ impact with leg stump. However, if the previous rate of change of direction in the flight had been assumed to continue it would have missed leg stump. This seems a problem with judging full toss lbw as the rule is clear for judging turn, but seems less so for judging drift in the air..

  • Since October 2015 in home tests, SL have lost every toss against the two richest and most powerful nations in international cricket – but won every other toss (excluding once against Zimbabwe).

    Just a coincidence….

  • While accepting that SL haven’t been very good, if England come home with a settled opener or two, Foakes nailed on as keeper, Leach the number one spinner and Root back in form, I’ll be more than happy

  • “The day Joe Root’s England announced themselves as a team not only destined to soon return to the top of the world Test rankings but one that will do it with a swagger”.

    Paul Newman not getting slightly ahead of himself there. FTR England will go to No.2 in the rankings whatever happens in the Third Test but it’s a long way to overhaul India. India would have to lose 4-0 in Australia for England would overtake them but Australia would overtake both England and India.

    • Does that not just indicate how poor the quality is in test cricket currently ?!? Or, are we supposed to just believe this englsnd side are some great side.

      I’m happy they won, but I’m sad that peoooe over rate these players and that test cricket is of such poor quality that they are not being found out

  • Gripping test in UAE just finished with a four run win for NZ. Pakistan lost 7 wickets for 41, mainly to Ajaz Patel who showed real guts to flight the ball with very few runs to play with and was ably backed up by the typically whole-hearted Neil Wagner. Hasan Ali slogging one down deep midwicket’s throat will live in the memory hole currently occupied by Shannon Gabriel.

    The only slight worry is that I’ve never seen a UAE pitch help the bowlers so much and it’s produced another four day test with no batsman able to make a century. It made for an exciting match but these are becoming the norm and it feels like four day tests are galloping closer on the back of them.

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