England vs. Sri Lanka – 2nd Test, The Wrap

Well England did what they needed to do in the end, however they didn’t make things easy for themselves with the way they performed in the field today. Indeed despite Cook and Anderson hitting the headlines for achieving respective landmarks both with the bat and with the ball, the last two days seems to have dredged up more questions than delivered answers around the team make up.

Let’s make no bones about it, they bowled pretty horribly this morning albeit on a pitch that was not conducive to fast bowling. Anderson aside, England looked pretty toothless against stubborn resistance from Chandimal and Herath with Finn and in particular Moeen looking pretty anonymous with the ball. Much as been written about Steven Finn in the press over the last couple of days and it is clear that he is struggling with his action as he has been all season (though I’m not sure I can agree with Mike Selvey’s tweets trying to clear any arguments that David Saker might have been responsible for this.) As I mentioned a few days ago, Finn is the ultimate confidence player and be it through injury or through poor form, his confidence looks pretty shot at the moment. I think he desperately needs some overs with the ball in the county championship when the white ball season kicks off and for that reason, I would leave him out of the one dayers. George Dobell’s piece on Finn is definitely worth a read and a far more eloquent appraisal of the situation that I can muster – http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-sri-lanka-2016/content/story/1021609.html

The same thing can be applied to Moeen, who today was going for 5 an over on a pitch that was starting to take some proper spin. We all knew that Moeen was originally a batsman who also offered us a part time spin option; however there had been performances that also gave us hope that he could perform the task of being England’s main spinner one day. Whether it’s a confidence thing or an ability thing, Moeen’s limitations were shown for all to see in the Pakistan Test series in the UAE and I’m not sure he has recovered any semblance of confidence since that series. I think today clearly shows that England can’t rely on Moeen bowling teams out in the fourth innings of Test Matches at the moment. A true international class spin bowler is still very much on England’s wish list, unfortunately there still aren’t many queuing up on the horizon.

As much as England’s bowlers bowled poorly this morning and they definitely did, our predicament was not helped by Cook the captain, who was happy to let proceedings drift until we finally managed to dig the opposition out. This has been on my bugbears with Cook’s captaincy since he took on the role, that when Plan A and sometimes Plan B don’t work, then there is nothing left in the captaincy tank (MS Dhoni was another captain who seemed to freeze when the going got tough). Why not change the field around, bring on a part-time bowler or ask the bowlers to change the angle of the attack? Something, anything to try and prise a wicket out, but no we just seemed to plod on doing the same thing in the hope that Jimmy Anderson could find a bit of magic to eventually pick up a wicket. It is also right to highlight that Bairstow dropped a fairly regulation chance to get rid of Chandimal during the morning. This is always going to be the problem when you want a batsman who keeps wicket, rather than a wicketkeeper who can bat in your team. Bairstow did not have a good day with the gloves routinely spilling deliveries or struggling to take them cleanly. I do think his keeping on the whole has improved since the winter, but it is clear that he is very much a work in progress still and the wicketkeeper debate looks set to rumble on over the summer. Let’s just hope he has got his poor day out of his system for the rest of the summer.

Though, I have been critical of England’s bowling and captaincy today, this should not take away anything from the application of the Sri Lankan batsmen. Herath played a fighting, nuggetty innings for his team (though quite what Chandimal must have thought when he started to trying to reverse sweep when he was stuck on 98 not out, must be something else) and of course it was a classy hundred from Chandimal who looked an assured and classy batsman. Sri Lanka desperately need Matthews and Chandimal to lead from the front in what is a very inexperienced top order, but the signs today were good that Chandimal has the ability and temperament to score runs regularly at this level.

A final note has to go to Cook the batsman. It would be totally churlish of me not to congratulate him on reaching a memorable landmark. Cook without doubt is a fine international player and deserves praise for his longevity and ability to squeeze out the volume of runs that he has. Is he a world-class player? I would suggest his stats show that he isn’t quite in the same league as the Sangakkara’s, Tendulkar’s, Waugh’s and Dravid’s of this world, who were all world class, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that he has been a fine opener for England in years gone past. Let’s now hope that with this landmark burden removed from his shoulders, that he can find some form again and score the runs that this England team needs him to do.


43 thoughts on “England vs. Sri Lanka – 2nd Test, The Wrap

  1. nonoxcol May 30, 2016 / 6:41 pm

    Some BTL highlights already:

    – He’s far more consistent than Lara
    – The foaming at the mouth brigade wanted him dropped.
    – Re Bradman and Bodyline, “I don’t recall Cook pissing in his pants when confronted with real pace.”
    – Racked up over 700 runs against a QUALITY (sic) attack in Australia.
    – Context-free quoting of “youngest and quickest to reach 10,000”
    – If he had same % of not outs as Tendulkar he would average over 50
    – Probably the best batsman other than Lara in the last 30 years

    Thankfully bemusedfella turned up before I reached for the revolver.

    Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel May 30, 2016 / 10:34 pm

      Is it worth saying that Bradman’s average in the Bodyline series was higher than Cook’s career average, let alone his average in the 2013-14 series?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Clivejw May 30, 2016 / 6:52 pm

    You will have seen that my comment dissenting from the general command to “Rejoice, rejoice” over the golden boy’s 10,000 got deleted at the Guardian. I’ve come to expect this by now, so I made the precaution of saving it:

    Let’s never forget what it took for ***k to reach his 10,000:
    1) He was allowed to be a passenger in the side and score no runs for two years;
    2) We had to put up with his pathetic “captaincy”, which included what Geoffrey Boycott described as “a master class in how to lose a test match from a winning position” (Headingley 2014) and the humiliating defeat of Barbados last year. Not to mention the 0-5 thrashing in the 2013-14 Ashes, from which no captain should have been allowed to walk away.
    3) Four years of preparation for the 2015 world cup were pissed away by indulging this spoilt, selfish manchild when it was manifest that he deserved neither the captaincy, nor a place in the side on merit.
    4) The final alienation of many cricket fans, many of whom had endured the humiliations of the late eighties and the entire nineties without complaint.
    5) The systematic trashing of the career, reputation, and character of a batsman whose boots ***k is not fit to lace.
    Meanwhile: congratulations to the evergreen Burnley wonder for reaching 450 test wickets. Now there’s something I can celebrate. He’s never been given special favours or treated with kid gloves. His achievement is a credit to his hard work, skill, guts, determination, and almost superhuman fitness. Cheers, Jimmy.

    Someone posted a list of ***k’s achievements and said that his record speaks for itself. Well, if it does, why do dissenting views need to be censored at the home of “comment is free”?

    Liked by 4 people

    • GeneralZod May 30, 2016 / 7:20 pm

      It would be wrong to hold Cook responsible for not being dropped though, would it not? Shouldn’t selection mistakes be blamed on the selectors?


      • jomesy May 30, 2016 / 7:38 pm

        Agree it’s not his fault….but then perhaps he shouldn’t shoot his mouth off about others playing for their places when his appears guaranteed despite poor performances. I can admire his runs, but I don’t like the man.


    • Zephirine May 30, 2016 / 7:21 pm

      Mike Selvey, however, was pretty fair, I thought:

      Cook deserves his accolade. He is, by consent, not the player that any of the 11 who have preceded him to that mark can claim to be, but none has been more resilient. A simple game has taken him through his career not because he has refined it as many have done with theirs, but because it is all he has ever had or needed. No one has made more of their ability.

      though one might add “No one has had so much help.”

      Liked by 3 people

      • hatmallet May 30, 2016 / 10:19 pm

        I saw Etheridge of the Sun also tweeted something similar earlier – saying that Cook was a “very fine player” and a “great” but “not an all-time great”. Which I think is fair. Good to see that not everyone is coming down with a case of greatesteveritis.


        • LordCanisLupus May 30, 2016 / 10:51 pm

          A quote, I have just read…. from a journalist….

          “Cook was making the most of his second chance in Australia and the only thing that went wrong for him on that whole trip was when he lost a DVD from the boxset of TV drama 24 that he was avidly consuming in his hotel room. Worried this setback would put him off his game – England had just lost the third Test in Perth and Cook had managed only 45 runs in the match – I tracked down the boxset in Melbourne. Sportsmen are a superstitious bunch at the best of times and so was I on this occasion. With Jack Bauer back in Cook’s life the runs flowed again and England won the final two Tests.”


        • LordCanisLupus May 31, 2016 / 12:49 am

          It’s fair enough. Of course he is a great player. He’s got 10K runs over 10 years in the side, at an average north of 45. Longevity and durability are every bit as important as the quantum. I just won’t put him up there with the best we’ve put out there, let alone the giants of the game that are all over 10k.

          I’m sorry, but this most mentally strong ever twaddle gets to me. Anyone else who was so divorced from a proper technique, going two years without a ton, not knowing where his next decent score was coming from, nicking off or playing on, has hardly been regaled with the title of “mental strength”. Why Cook? Because he played some long innings? That two years, straddling the furore of 2014, wasn’t mental strength. It was a man struggling and fighting with himself. Ian Bell does that and he’s called all sorts. Cook clings to a place the ECB dare not deny him and he’s mentally strongest of the strongest?

          The Cook persona has been created, and in my mind absolutely aided and abetted by the man himself, and it is one who isn’t a stranger to the commercial realities of his position, and of the nice little back-story. It’s why, when that photo we all know about, is put up front, people lose their shit. It’s against that image. Cook has all around, sweet, nice guy who gets by on grit, mental strength and a technique only his mother could love. It’s rubbish. Cook is mentally strong, ruthless, and a damn fine batsman. He’s got where he is because he has those. Very few players who have a test career are mentally weak. He’s been blessed by being injury-free (I think the only test he missed was the Ring of Fire one) and by playing an era when he’s not tested as fiercely, as often, as those ten years ago and more. But as he said, you can’t argue with 10000 runs. To do so is not clever. But spare me the beatification as if this is some victory of good over evil, of English artisan over fancy-dan Foreigner. It’s a bloke making a lot of runs at the highest form of the game. End of.

          Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH May 31, 2016 / 9:03 am

        On LCL’s post about Cook and mental strength:

        I’d only add how utterly weird it is that Cook’s problems with white-ball cricket have been enlisted as some great part of his mental strength. He had a strict method and he stuck to it? Okay, that’s a quality of sorts. Some very good players (including Justin Langer – it’s him again!) didn’t have much of an ODI career. But don’t turn it into some heroic virtue, some badge of purity or nobility. Players who had a solid Test match technique (Sangakkara would be the supreme example) and found a way to graft on to it a way to succeed in ODIs and T20 are better players. They just are.

        We’re supposed to be taking white-ball cricket equally seriously these days. Some of the commentary shows how shallow that is (and how, as Mark says, they make it up as they go along to suit themselves).


    • Rooto May 30, 2016 / 7:21 pm

      Nothing in that post deserved deletion, Clive. Scandalous decision to remove it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jomesy May 30, 2016 / 7:21 pm

      yes – I saw it didn’t last long Clive. I’m not sure what community “standard” you breached but, hey-ho, there will be no dissent!


      • nonoxcol May 30, 2016 / 7:35 pm

        Like your work on Vic’s thread there, Jomesy. 😉


      • jomesy May 30, 2016 / 7:39 pm

        I hope there’s some support for his return to the one day team.


      • Zephirine May 30, 2016 / 8:10 pm

        Poetseye is having a good try at restoring some balance.

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol May 30, 2016 / 8:20 pm

        11 recs, a moan from the resident troll and approbation from hblove is pretty good going for a day like this.


      • nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 6:34 am

        Couple of horrible long replies to Thepoetseye, from Addicks and wakeupbomb. As well as cliche bingo, there’s an interesting new one: the Downton 10k conversation is an internet myth spread by fanboys.

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol May 30, 2016 / 7:21 pm

      Glad we got to read it. I can’t see how that contravenes the “community standards”. Spoilt, selfish manchild maybe; I happen to think that’s free speech and a rather accurate description, which is why I started using dauphin and Pitt the Younger as shorthand back in 2014.

      You may not have heard his interview, in which he says it “might be selfish”, but the milestone did mean a lot to him and it did drive him.

      Lest we forget:

      “I would have preferred you to say you wanted to win more matches for England.”

      PR Downton to KP Pietersen, 2014, after the latter stated his ambition to reach, er, 10,000 Test runs.


    • nonoxcol May 30, 2016 / 7:30 pm

      Your point 3) really has gone under the radar since the Revolution, but it is possibly the biggest scandal of all.


  3. Sherwick May 30, 2016 / 6:53 pm

    Vivid Richards is less than 30 years ago.



    • Sherwick May 30, 2016 / 6:53 pm



      • quebecer May 31, 2016 / 3:25 am

        He’s still vivid for me.


  4. sgtcookieblog May 30, 2016 / 8:03 pm

    Well done AC of England, Captain ACE for short. And well done JImmy.
    I hope Finn finds his form. It was lovely to see his pleasure in Jonny Bairstow’s delight in reaching three figures and I dare say it was similar with Mo (haven’t caught the highlights yet) Oh the days of a ropey tail with the likes of Bob Willis leaving Boycs on 99 and Gower 98 in consequtive Tests…


  5. Mark May 30, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    Jenny said this yesterday …….;

    “He has never been happy in the spotlight. I have little doubt that he would love to make his 10.000 in front of nobody and get the interviews done and dusted ASAP.”

    I thought that was bollocks yesterday (sorry Jenny) and having seen Cooks over the top, spoiled brat reaction today I’m glad I was proved right.

    I have now come to the conclusion that Cook is the second coming of Jesus. I say this because I can not find any other logical reason for the way he has been protected, worshiped, indulged, fawned upon, excused, eulogised, covered up for, and generally sucked up to. The extraudinary genuflecting in front of him by great sways of the cricket media can only be becuase he is not from this planet. He must be some higher level of being. A diety of some kind? A celestial being sent here from God for us to worship?

    Alternatively, the cricket writers, commentators, ECB officials, TV pundits are just a bunch of c***s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine May 30, 2016 / 8:23 pm

      See Grenville’s comment on the previous thread. They need a story. The Cook story is now growing of its own accord, like a coral reef (or a Gospel) with every renewed statement of his wonderfulness. I guess it’s how legends are born.


    • fred May 30, 2016 / 9:01 pm

      After following day one, and my unfortunate intervention on the guardian blog that evening, I have not been able to follow this test at all, until today.

      I saw a Hussein interview of Cook during the lunch break today. I must say, Hussein was pretty obsequious, but Cook was largely reasonable as Hussein encouraged him to relive and glory in his career so far. He’s not my cup of tea, but he wasn’t overly hubristic or arrogant either, he was pretty balanced. It just confirmed my suspicion that he’s a pretty straightforward (although perhaps a little dim) guy who’s gotten caught up in a situation beyond his control.

      Sure there’s been some unpleasantness, such as his treatment of Mathews last time, his comments on Morgan’s captaincy, his complicity in the KP sacking debacle etc, but overall, he’s not really the devil incarnate is he? He’s just a bit of a buffoon who has good concentration, a few well drilled cricketing skills, and a limited interview technique. The angst around him wouldn’t be so bad if the ECB had managed him differently.

      As a batsman, that’s a different story. I’ve no time for him at all, he’s boring and limited. But he is effective on this day. To see him sharing a list with the likes of Ponting and Lara is just not right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • quebecer May 31, 2016 / 3:24 am

        I disagree with you on this, Fred. I think the point your glossing over is he’s an opening bat, and he joins only Gavaskar on that list. Of course he isn’t Lara or Sach or Ponting, but let’s compare him to other players of his position, shall we? And if you take the players you point to on that list, who do you think they’d have wanted opening for them more than Cook? Boring and limited but effective on his day is an inadequate description of his play and his effect on his team. The importance of those 10,000 runs form that position are a far better way to judge.


      • quebecer May 31, 2016 / 3:41 am

        I’m just saying, but if you add up John Dyson, Rick McCosker and Graeme Wood’s test runs it comes out to 6,355*.

        *It bloody does, too.


      • Rpoultz May 31, 2016 / 4:27 am

        Yeah, there is no way Ponting would choose Hayden and langer over cook 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH May 31, 2016 / 9:24 am

        Sorry, Quebecer, but there are quite a number of openers who would have scored 10k runs if they’d played as much as Cook. Cook has had 12-13 Tests and 22-23 innings a year while playing very little f/c or white-ball cricket. Take Gary Kirsten – playing that many Tests with his existing record (10 year career averaging about 45) and he’d have scored almost exactly 10k runs.

        Langer and Hayden both didn’t get 10k because they played for a team that had strong alternatives and when their form declined for a while, they were dropped and it took quite some time for them to get back into the team. Cook has benefited from playing for a team with few alternatives (especially in the second half of his career) and his dips in form being tolerated more than would be the case by many other teams (or in England’s past).

        Gooch and Boycott didn’t get to 10k because of their periods in exile. I’ve less sympathy with them as those were self-imposed. However Cook has lived in an era when he is extremely well renumerated (he earns more in a month than Angelo Mathews does in a year) and there are no such temptations. Touring is also less arduous today than it was in their time.

        I’d add Barry Richards and Jimmy Cook as two highly probable members as openers to the 10k club but for SA’s exile.

        I just don’t buy this argument that their is something uniquely difficult about opening the batting. Middle order batsmen have to face reverse swing, adjust to different circumstances (it could be 30-3 or 300-3), face the second new ball and bat with the tail. Batting is batting. The lack of other openers bar Gavaskar in the 10k club is more a mixture of lack of opportunity and coincidence than anything else.


      • fred May 31, 2016 / 12:24 pm

        So you don’t really disagree with me then it seems. It didn’t deny in any way the importance of the runs he makes. All I said was I have no time for him, but which I meant I don’t like watching him. and you can’t make me like watching him, because it’s not a factual issue, just my preference.
        And regarding Dyson, McCosker and Wood, I’ll give you full marks for coming up with unexpected comparisons!


      • fred May 31, 2016 / 1:10 pm

        Just to let you know, I checked you numbers and you got that right, 6355 is correct, so well done for that.


  6. man in a barrel May 30, 2016 / 10:22 pm

    If Waler Hammond or Herbert Sutcliffe had been allowed to start out in Test cricket as young as Cook – (WW1 disadvantaged Sutcliffe and illness plus the intransigence of Lord Harris militated against Hammond) – if they had played as many matches a year as Cook, how old would they have been before they passed the 10k milestone. Then ask about Bradman and Hobbs. I think Cook has taken about 5 years too long to reach that mark.


    • SimonH May 31, 2016 / 9:26 am

      I worked out recently that Hutton would have scored over 20k runs if he’d played Tests as regularly as Cook (18 year career times by an average of 56).


  7. man in a barrel May 30, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    Sky focus totaally on the age factor and ignore the average or matches played….And they have got objective observers to toe the line…it is repulsive. How could Rusell Arnold go along with the Sky line? Cook as good as MJ?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Quebecer May 31, 2016 / 4:40 am

    RPOULTZ: yes, but if he had to say it out loud, he’d probably feel he had to pick McCosker and Dyson over Cook too. But his inner voice? That little inner voice? There’s no #3 around who wouldn’t be secretly smiling over having Cook opening. No captain would turn it down either.


    • Quebecer May 31, 2016 / 4:52 am

      Then again, I accept the fact you’re right.


  9. Quebecer May 31, 2016 / 12:56 pm

    SIMONH: you could add Greenidge and Haynes to your list of openers who haven’t scored 10k. Actually, there are a lot more. In fact, as we’ve established, all of them except Gavaskar. There’s two points: for any record that requires longevity, there is always an element of good fortune involved; we’re comparing players who have finished playing with one who most definitely has not.

    We disagree about opening being tougher than, say, #4, but I honestly think care should be taken in any sporting context in saying, “Well, they’d have achieved/won it IF,,,” A pretty major aspect of all sport is not whether someone can do something, it’s whether they do.


    • SimonH May 31, 2016 / 4:05 pm

      We’ll have to agree to disagree on “what ifs”!

      I think they are reasonable if there are no rational grounds to think otherwise. I don’t see any grounds for thinking Hayden and Kirsten couldn’t have kept motivated and fit. Langer might have been ruled out by injuries.

      My point about raising these issues is to get at the importance of scheduling in these records that measure volumes. We’re essentially talking about records available now to only England and Australian cricketers. No-one else is going to get enough matches.


      • d'Arthez Jun 1, 2016 / 9:28 am

        Just to illustrate the point:

        If Tendulkar had played all India’s Test matches since his debut, he would have played 217 Tests up to his retirement date in November 2013. So he missed 17 Tests in a 24-year Test career. Tendulkar, at best, could have averaged 9 Tests / year if he had not missed a single Test for India since his debut. By the time Tendulkar played his 128th Test (like Cook has now), it was already 2006. So that is into his 17th career year.

        Cook averages more than 12 Tests per year, and he is in his 11th year of his career.

        By the time Tendulkar had played international Test cricket for the same period (time) as Cook has to reach 10 000 runs, Tendulkar had played all of 75 Tests. Cook has played 128 Tests. Huge difference in volume, so not surprising that Cook gets to be ahead of a batsman who up to that point had not even scored 6000 Test runs (at an average above 56).

        Just announced: India and Pakistan again in the same group for the Champion’s Trophy. Matchfixing is illegal, but schedule-fixing is okay.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. CRICKETJON Jun 1, 2016 / 5:20 pm

    I think all the waiting around airports and hanging around in hotels on their PlayStation would have taken quite a lot out of Sutcliffe and Hammond tbf. So it all equals out in the end 🙂

    One thing that struck me about the scheduling of this Test Match just a week after being in Leeds was the scheduling of England v Australia in Sunderland for an association football fixture. It is clear the two sports don’t speak to each other but despite having no mutuality of interest they do have customers in common !


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