The First Test – Quality Street

England did what England needed to do. They recovered well from a tenuous position, got themselves up to nearly 300 and let two experienced world class bowlers do their thing. We genuinely feared for Sri Lanka coming into this test, and arguably this was worse than we thought. Their bowling looked OK, they didn’t let themselves down, but the batting was woeful. Well, what I saw of it was.

Test matches like these are easy to review. England are a very good side – I’m not convinced they have it in them to be the world beaters that Ian Botham does – and pretty unstoppable in favourable conditions. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that. I think the great sides win test matches on flat decks in alien conditions (Durban and Joburg weren’t flat but they were top wins) and this team’s batsmen are still too creaky to be considered a truly vintage side. England needed to get enough runs, they did. They needed to bowl sensibly and with skill, they did. Jimmy took 10 wickets, much to the chagrin of Dennis Does Cricket, and England by and large held their catches. It was as routine as routine could be. It reminded me of the effortless steamrolling of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe when Giddins or Johnson picked up wickets.

But this is Dmitri. I’m always down on England. You never give them credit. You want them to lose.

I want to see entertaining cricket, and a fair contest. I get absolutely petrified if this is the way Sri Lanka are going. We’ve seen how West Indies have gone. They’ll concentrate more and more on white ball cricket. Last time over here Sri Lanka were competitive, they fought, they outplayed England at key moments, and held on by the skin of their teeth on other occasions. This year they came in on the back of two lack lustre displays, and without the aura of a Sangakkara in their midsts. It was grim, it was cold. England won. They’ve given me two days off, and on the brink of a break, that’s most welcome!

The heads turn towards a test in Durham next time out. Will England keep the same team, Stokes fitness permitting, or will the media rumble for Compton’s axeing be persuasive? That’s about as interesting and exciting a talking point that has come out from this test. We have two top bowlers, and that was too much. We had a wicket-keeper batsman in super form and feeling secure, and he played superbly. We had Hales show he’s not a one-trick pony. Above that, we learned nothing. Except we have another few days of 10000 mania.

Test cricket is in trouble. But at least we have a 4-0 lead in the Super Series. That should make you all delighted. Puts this one-sided win in the vital “context” I know everyone loves!

Finally, thanks once again for Sean’s piece yesterday. Delighted he’s taking up the role of writing for us on a more regular basis, and he’ll be the eyes for the next two matches as both Chris and I won’t be able to watch them. Hopefully, I won’t even be missed!