England vs. Sri-Lanka, 3rd Test – Preview

So we’re off to Lords tomorrow with England taking an 8-0 advantage in the Super Series there, so still absolutely everything to play for…said no cricket fan ever! In a grudging kind of way, you have to admire Strauss for managing to keep a completely straight face when he commented:

We believe this will enhance the international game over all formats, at a time when we all recognise the need to keep all forms of international cricket exciting, relevant and engaging for the public.”

“We have to recognise that the world of cricket is changing very quickly. We’ve seen some fantastic innovations recently such as the first ever day-night Test Match in Australia last year, and I see this as something similar for all formats – a way of keeping them all relevant. It’s part of our ongoing efforts to modernise the game of cricket.”

Unfortunately for the Director, English Cricket, most cricket fans or those with even half a brain know a turd when they see one and despite the ECB desperately trying to add a hefty whack of polish to it, I’m afraid that no-one has been taken in by this colossal heap of bullcrap. Perhaps it’s best for the Director, England Cricket to go back to what he knows best i.e. instructing your friends in the mainstream media to continue to write souped up hagiographies

Anyway onto the cricket itself and I’m not sure the majority of the country is amazingly enthused about the prospect of watching this final Test Match in what has been a low quality and underwhelming series. As I suspected, England have gone in again with the same eleven, which hopefully provides Steven Finn with a chance to find some form and rhythm in time for the rest of the summer’s cricket. It also nicely provides the MSM the chance to have one more potshot at Nick Compton before he is cast adrift from the National team and I’m sure the likes of Pringle, Selvey, Newman and Stocks have their pencils sharpened in the hope of writing his international obituary with the same glee that they have writing about what an inspirational leader Alastair Cook is! I’m still not quite sure what Compton has done to upset the MSM apart from not scoring that many runs and not being Joe Root, but it seems he has rubbed up the wrong people and that is basically that for him. I will eat my proverbial hat if he is picked for the first Test of the Pakistan series.

With Compton seemingly on the way out, social media and Sky has been awash with views around who is going to replace him at number 3. It has been mentioned that there is the possibility of Vince moving up to 3, Bairstow to 5 and Buttler to come in at 7, though I think that is highly unlikely considering that Vince hasn’t exactly been prolific in his first couple of Tests (despite Andy Flower’s assertions that he is the new Don Bradman) coupled with the fact Buttler hasn’t played any type of red ball cricket this summer and is unlikely to get much practice before Pakistan start their tour. As a result, many are casting around County Cricket for a potential replacement with Robson, Westley and Borthwick being the names that keep cropping up. Scott Borthwick for me is the most interesting name on the list and one cannot praise him highly enough for having the aptitude, work ethic and skill-set to turn himself from a bowling all rounder to a fixture at number 3 for Durham. Indeed he has had a fantastic season so far scoring three hundreds for Durham, including two in one match, in what is one of the hardest grounds to consistently score on in the County Championship. The fact that Borthwick had been so consistent in recent times, got me thinking why he hadn’t been mentioned before now and why the sudden clamour for his inclusion? One could rightly point out that it’s the number of runs he has churned out for his county this year or it could also be pointed out, if one was a little more cynical, that he has fairly recently been signed up by those lovable rogues, ISM! Perhaps I am being a little churlish and I actually do think Borthwick deserves a chance to showcase his skills on the international stage, especially with the bonus of his leg spin bowling and upcoming trips to Bangladesh and India, but it also does worry me the about seemingly large amount of power that this agency holds over our selectors. Perhaps I’m being paranoid about this, but then again perhaps I’m not (and Katy Scott’s – @ithilienorthend – excellent piece on the growth of ISM is worth a read – https://ashestourist.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/the-impact-of-ism/). Whatever the exact truth is, it seems clear that they have the ears of those in power and if I was an aspiring England cricketer, then being represented by Vaughan and the like would certainly be an interesting prospect. I’m awaiting the Ajmal Shahzad for England bandwagon to pick up over the summer with baited breath.

As for Sri Lanka and their chances of performing at Lords, I would suggest that their batting has a better chance of clicking as it did in the second innings at Durham, than their bowling does to cause England too many worries (especially as all of their first choice bowling attack are either injured or have been reported for dodgy actions). The main reason why I think the Sri Lankan batting attack is likely to fare better is that the Lords pitch is likely to be flatter than an England performance having won a series and judging by the state of the Lord’s pitch this year in county games, a high scoring draw is far more likely than any other result, a 3 day Test Match this won’t be. As I mentioned in my customer experience piece, Lords is the ECB’s cash cow, this is where they make their money, so why take the chance of a Sri Lankan collapse to put at risk guaranteed income from the ECB’s preferred type of fan? This isn’t those ghastly Tests up North (in the ECB’s eyes not mine) where fans refuse to spend £75 a ticket and to nicely line the ECB’s coffers by purchasing £85 lunch hampers, this is the real deal now and something that needs to be protected….

On a final note, I wonder if anyone else has tried to put themselves through the abject pain of watching the WI, Aus & SA tri-series in the West Indies? This surely has to be a lesson to all cricket administrators worldwide that playing meaningless series on substandard pitches and then trying to sell this to the paying public is an act of extreme folly. In fact, I would suggest that this has done more harm than good, with the pitches displaying variable bounce and extreme spin from the first over, this was not a spectacle that will live long in the memory. Sure, no-one wants to see 400 plays 400 in every game, but paying fans do want to see batsmen being able to get the ball off the square and a pitch that doesn’t resemble a Day 5 pitch in Chittagong – no wonder cricket uptake in the West Indies is massively on the wane…

Day 1 thoughts and comments below…


39 thoughts on “England vs. Sri-Lanka, 3rd Test – Preview

    • nonoxcol Jun 8, 2016 / 7:53 pm

      Wow. Stocks is a mere pretender next to that. Even Selvey on Rashid is left in the shadows. The work of a real journalist, for sure.


      • Sean B Jun 8, 2016 / 8:07 pm

        I hadn’t even seen this article when I wrote the piece. Newman impersonating his role as chief henchman of the establishment with such levels of aplomb.

        Haven’t we seen this sort of assassination somewhere before from said ‘journalist’? Oh yes it’s all coming flooding back…


      • oreston Jun 8, 2016 / 9:48 pm

        What about the opening batsman who hasn’t posted a fifty since his 76 in the first innings at Centurion (his only test fifty on that tour) ? If Compton’s form is causing concern, shouldn’t that be a tiny bit worrying too?

        Oh, but I’m forgetting. If the glorious winning match situation at Durham (brought about entirely by his brilliant captaincy) hadn’t dictated that he was left at 47* then surely he would’ve gone on to have played one of the all time great innings and put the mighty Sri Lankan bowling attack to the sword…

        Liked by 2 people

    • Escort Jun 8, 2016 / 8:01 pm

      Totally agree. A horribly biased piece.


    • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) Jun 9, 2016 / 6:52 am

      Does anyone know if Compton has a famous Grandfather? Not sure if it mentioned very often in that article.

      I love the line…

      ‘if he scores runs they will have no choice but to carry on picking him.’

      Damned players, scoring runs and messing up selection.


  1. northernlight71 Jun 8, 2016 / 9:58 pm

    It may just be an unrelated thing, but I remember something from a couple of years back…. I can’t for the life of me track it down now, but there was a piece by Andy Bull, I think, where he interviewed Compton and basically told us that Compo had requested/demanded an interview because he felt he was being overlooked by the media and, as a result, by the England selectors, despite his then stunning county form.
    I wonder if several journo’s were the victims of such a “request” and if they took against him afterwards. I mean, imagine a mere cricketer trying to manipulate the upstanding, balanced, fair and incorruptible men and ladies of the Press?

    Oh, as an aside, could Cook get any more dislikeable? I ask while already knowing the unfortunate answer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol Jun 8, 2016 / 10:17 pm

      The only time his ten-year bubble was even remotely penetrated, it nearly broke him, and saw him hit out at so-called friends, commentators and Sri Lankans, while being at best complicit in the sacking of a teammate. At the same time friendly voices launched a PR campaign so transparent, cloying and repetitive that it turned some of us even further against him. And I’m pretty sure his deeply basic, bubble-wrapped mind would completely fail to understand why this might happen.

      His pontificating on “deeper issues” is about as relevant, interesting and welcome as Tony Blair’s.

      Liked by 1 person

    • sgtcookieblog Jun 9, 2016 / 9:18 am

      On occasion, in weaker moments, I find myself thinking I should make more of an effort to warm to our 10,000 run man… and then he opens his mouth.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Sherwick Jun 8, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    “upstanding, balanced, fair and incorruptible men and ladies of the Press?”

    Nope, sorry, you’ve lost me there.

    Even V Marks.


    • pktroll (@pktroll) Jun 9, 2016 / 12:01 pm

      I can only assume the pre-series interview with Flower was in essence a chance for more tapping up about poor old Comp dog. I have to say that I thought that England might have moved on from Compton after the SA series, but he didn’t deserve the on-going hatchet job he had received.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B Jun 9, 2016 / 12:06 pm

      They’ve been itching to get that last tweet out all series. Fair and impartial press my arse!


      • Zephirine Jun 9, 2016 / 1:02 pm

        So, imagine you’re completely new to cricket and know nothing at all about these two guys, which one would you think is the team captain and most successful player?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. nonoxcol Jun 9, 2016 / 12:10 pm

    Rob Smyth currently having the “90s were uniquely terrible for English cricket” brigade for breakfast, lunch and dinner on the OBO.


    • SimonH Jun 9, 2016 / 12:21 pm

      “England didn’t win a 5-Test series until 1998” must the finest bit of stat-mining since “in his last 27 innings, Kevin Pietersen…. ” was last sighted.


      • nonoxcol Jun 9, 2016 / 12:33 pm

        It’s just such a facile argument, and so easy for someone who knows as much as Rob to blow to bits. Four 90s sides would, imo, be several Communist-era boulevards ahead of any Test side currently playing, and I honestly don’t think the current Ashes-winning, bilateral-trophy-hoovering England side would *automatically* beat (say) Gooch, Atherton, Stewart, Smith, Thorpe, AN Other, Russell, Gough, Fraser, Caddick and Tufnell.


    • Burly Jun 9, 2016 / 3:38 pm

      He did let this tweet go through without comment:

      Cook was 60* at the time.

      Well, Dick, it’s because he’s had 4 innings and 2 of them were not out, and one score above 50 in 4 innings at home against a dreadful Sri Lankan attack does not make a player great. But maybe that’s just my bizarre way of looking at the world and how stats work.


      Liked by 2 people

      • Burly Jun 9, 2016 / 3:38 pm

        Or, erm, Dan Lucas let it through. Cough.


  4. SteveT Jun 9, 2016 / 1:00 pm

    Oh dear, 84-4 on what sounds like a benign wicket. Only Vince out to a decent delivery. Mr Skipper holding innings together at the moment. At least we are spared any pearls of wisdom from FICJAM and Lovejoy,


    • d'Arthez Jun 9, 2016 / 1:12 pm

      Against a seam attack that averages about 45 per wicket (in all conditions). But somehow the media will pretend that these are Wasim, Imran, and Waqar bowling, aided and assisted by Murali.


  5. nonoxcol Jun 9, 2016 / 2:22 pm

    When he scores his hundred, it will of course become ok to mention in retrospect his poor form leading into this match. But not until.


    • nonoxcol Jun 9, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      What a f**king NONSENSE this system is.


      • Burly Jun 9, 2016 / 3:35 pm

        It pisses me off royally. It shouldn’t be 50% of the ball, it should be 50% of the stump.


    • SteveT Jun 9, 2016 / 3:53 pm

      I know there is some margin for error with Hawk-eye but that is ridiculous, They say it’s to cut out bloopers, but isn’t it a blooper giving that not out when it indicates full ball contact?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Distinct Jun 9, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    Its just lazy presentation. Hawkeye is NOT saying 49% of ball is hitting at all.
    Its actually gives a Probability curve and is saying that it has a probability of SOME part of the ball hitting the stumps at 49%.
    the line has to be drawn somewhere.


    • Burly Jun 9, 2016 / 4:19 pm

      I’m pretty sure that’s not true. That would represent Hawkeye’s own accuracy over a very short distance as being absolutely godawful. Hawkeye’s tracking is much, much better than that. They claim between 5 and 10mm as their standard for cricket.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark Jun 9, 2016 / 4:44 pm

    It seems to me that since the big 3 stitch up we have seen a big 3 “umpires call” stitch up as well. Umpires have, by osmosis created a system where for most decsions the big 3 team batsman has to be 100% out to be given out. In other words, edge on the side of caution when a big 3 player is batting by giving them not out. If Hawkeye shows it was hitting middle stump half way up you can overturn the call. Anything else is given as umpires call. When the ball is hitting the stump by 49% it is not just clipping the stump.

    This system is then completely reversed when the non big 3 team is batting. Now you give the doubt to the bowler and dare the batsman to be able to prove it was missing the stumps completely. The whole point of using technology is take away any umpire bias out of the system. Almost by default the umpires call has brought that bias right back again.

    When I say umpires are biased I don’t mean they want to get a side to win because they support that side. They just don’t want the hassle of all the shit that goes with making a 50-50 call going against the bigger teams. It’s no different to football referees who never award penalties against the big team for fear of being taken off the big games. If in doubt err on the side of the big boys.Technology is supposed to remove this. It’s not working.


    • RufusSG Jun 9, 2016 / 4:57 pm

      I definitely agree that the umpire’s call regulations need examining and the margins of error made smaller, but you’re seriously reaching here. The Big Three may have done many things but I seriously doubt it’s having an impact on umpiring in the way you’ve described.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jun 9, 2016 / 5:09 pm

        I don’t think I’m reaching at all. I think it is only human to side with the bigger boys. It’s far less controversial. You see it in football all the time. Refs make mistakes against the lesser sides and nothing happens. If they make mistakes against the big teams the refs tend to get sent to the championship. The big teams make much more fuss, and have many more fans and media going on about it.

        I can’t produce any stas to back up my claim, but I have noticed more umpires calls going for the bigger teams. Technology is supposed to replace umpires calls on a purely factual matter.


    • nonoxcol Jun 9, 2016 / 5:15 pm

      And why am I not remotely surprised to find out which umpire gave the not out verdict….? Watch him give marginal lbw decisions against the Sri Lankans later, especially in the second innings.

      Ten years ago that goes down as a poor decision and a discussion point, but we move on (as on many occasions in the 05 Ashes). Now we have a system that takes time, money and effort to justify a poor decision, marks it up as a plus point for the dreadful umpire, and punishes the appealing side. This is progress, allegedly.


      • Mark Jun 9, 2016 / 5:56 pm


        It’s absurd! They piss about trying to see if a ball has gone for four or not. No umpire call there.


      • d'Arthez Jun 9, 2016 / 6:41 pm

        Without having looked it up. Ravi?

        The guy who gave just about all the major decisions in England’s favour against New Zealand last year? His ‘excellent’ decision making cost New Zealand close to an entire innings worth of batting in a two-Test series …, and might well have saved England from being whitewashed in that series.

        BC Cooray (him of England – Sri Lanka 2001 fame) would have been “proud” of such an effort. At least he was sidelined after such an atrocious performance. Ravi got elevated to the elite panel for his efforts.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Escort Jun 9, 2016 / 6:25 pm

      Really??? Are you absolutely sure about that???


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