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.