England vs. Sri Lanka – 3rd Test, Day 1

One of the slightly annoying vagaries of the Test Match season is that work rather gets in the way of my ability to watch any of the game and I’m afraid that is the case today and will also be the case tomorrow too, with my only chance to catch up on proceedings being through the Channel 5 highlights.

From first glance, England very much have Jonny Bairstow to thank for digging them out of a very large hole of their own making on a flat and benign pitch at Lords. Fair play to Sri Lanka who bowled well and tightly on this pitch, but it was an often repeated story as England constantly threw away their wickets at regular intervals, with only James Vince being able to convincing argue that he got a good’un. Hales’ mow at Herath showed that he is not an international class batsman as of yet and Compton’s fidgety, sometimes painful innings was bought to an end when he nicked off chasing a wide one. It is hard not to sympathise with Compton as a fan of the game, he has worked hard to get his chance but it just hasn’t happened for him at Test level. This will now have been his 16th Test in an England shirt (and fair play to Bayliss who has resisted the MSM pressure to give him a decent run in the side) but he just hasn’t scored the necessary runs, nor convinced that he can operate at this level and so the search for a new number 3 will now start in earnest. The vultures over at the MSM of course didn’t have any sympathy mind declaring that it had been a waste of everyone’s time to pick Compton in the first pace:


A note to the likes of Newman and Berry, no it wasn’t a waste of time in picking Compton, he was picked because England felt that he was the best number 3 that we had. It hasn’t unfortunately worked out for Compton or England, but the real waste of a summer would be read the nefarious drivel that you consistently insult your readers with. Rant over.

As for captain courageous, he got a start, looked good and then got out in the 80’s. I’ve kept my powder fairly dry in the ‘is Alastair Cook a great of the modern game?’ This clearly gave us our answer for all to see, a great player would have gone on and made a big hundred against a weakish attack on a placid pitch, Alastair Cook did not, again. Cook’s average may look pretty healthy over the last 12 months but that is mainly down to a monumental score on a featherbed in Abu Dhabi and a couple of not outs and when you dig a little further, it’s not quite as healthy as his followers would tell you. Put it this way, when was the last time Cook scored a match winning hundred to ultimately turn a game in England’s favour? Answers on a postcard? The ability to do that on a consistent basis in my opinion, should be the mark of a great batsman, sure Alastair Cook is a very good international batsmen, but a great? I can give you 10,000 reasons why he falls short.

The Decision Review System came under scrutiny again today, when umpire Ravi, England’s favourite umpire gave a decision not out, when it looked for all the world to see that the ball was cannoning into leg stump. Now I’m not blaming S Ravi for the system not being up to scratch (though he is an extremely poor umpire in my eyes), it is more the fact that we don’t seem to be getting the right result from the technology. My own view is that either you trust the system implicitly and a batsman is given out if any of the ball is forecast to hit the stump or you ditch DRS completely, not stick with this halfway house which is making us all look a little bit stupid. The fact that the bowling (or batting team) loses a review for an umpires call is even more galling and something really does need to be done to address this issue ASAP.

Apologies for the slightly sparse report tonight, watching the highlights doesn’t exactly give me too much to go off.

Day 2 thoughts and comments below:


46 thoughts on “England vs. Sri Lanka – 3rd Test, Day 1

  1. metatone Jun 9, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    Couldn’t really muster much enthusiasm for this game.
    I’m assuming that the pitch will make it last longer and SL will do better while it stays dry.
    Not sure if the weekend rain will mean we get a draw or if it will give England bowlers another chance to spruce their averages…

    To borrow a meme from The Full Toss, I’ll be watching the football…


  2. SimonH Jun 9, 2016 / 8:08 pm

    Can Paul Newman combine another go at Compton with another bigging up of Cook? Is the Pope Catholic?

    “Hales has done enough in this series to face Pakistan next month but unless Compton emulates Cook, Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood in scoring a second innings century with the axe hovering then his Test race has been run”.

    They’ve repeated this myth so many times they probably believe it now. Pity for him that Strauss is on record as saying that Cook was going to Australia whatever he scored at the Oval in 2010.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark Jun 9, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    ENGLAND aren’t very good on flat pitches. They got hammered here against Australia, and again at the Oval last year. They tend to just give their wickets away for no reason. Cook, as you rightly say should have cruised to a hundred, and then scored a big one. If, and it is a big if he was the great player his fans claim he would have scored 150 plus today. I guess he was weighed down with his new silver bat from the ECB.

    Compton is toast now. I feel sorry for him, but he has to score runs, and he looks completely at sea. He has had an impossible task becasue making runs is not good enough for the media midgets . He has to make his runs in a particular style and speed. No other player is forced to bat against his natural way. He was out again today trying to play an attacking shot. However, we all know that the real reason he is not wanted by the media is because of links to a certain player that can not be named.

    I have nothing but contempt for the way the authorities have screwed up the technology. I thought if it was clipping the stumps it went with the umpires call. Since when hitting flush with half the ball crashing into leg stump is regarded as clipping the stump and still umpires call?

    I’m still in shock at Mark Nicholas piece celebrating Cools 10.000 runs when he let slip that Cook is convinced that today’s cricket standard is as good as it has ever been in history. ENGLAND seem to be a side that’s main strength is they bat all the way down. Time and again the top order collapse and they rely on the lower order to bail them out. Would this batting line up be beating the 1990s vintage of Australia, South Aftica and Pakistan? I wouldn’t give them a prayer.


    • RufusSG Jun 9, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      The standards question is an interesting one: there’s of course no doubt that the quality of international bowling in the 1990s was exceptionally strong, and batting averages from that time (generally) seem to be lower. A kinder interpretation I’ll put forward for ponderance is that elite cricketers haven’t necessarily got worse, but rather better at a different skill set than they’ve been accustomed to in the past. You wouldn’t have seen the various ramp/scoop shots attempted in the past during the 90s, and the proliferation of slower balls we’ve seen bowlers develop to counter the more aggressive mindset of the modern batsman.

      Would England’s lineup of today, in particular Cook I suppose for the purposes of this discussion, have coped in the 1990s? Yeah, it would have been a bit of a challenge for sure and their records would almost have certainly been slightly worse. But cricket is constantly changing and evolving, which is why I’m always reluctant to judge cricketers too harshly against what those in other eras did: you can only be judged good by excelling at the specific challenges your era poses to you. I think it’s fun to ponder how the bowlers of the 90s would have responded to a player like AB de Villiers and the generally far more attacking batsmen of the modern era,and vice versa, but I’m reluctant to shit on modern players too heavily on this basis, because ultimately – although I’m not trying to claim that Adam Voges is better than Viv Richards or anything like that – we don’t bloody know.

      I basically see the modern England team as a side with a strong core of players whilst also with several areas where obvious fine-tuning is required (number three, spinner, etc.). Whilst I don’t think it’s an absolutely legendary team and the media do clearly at times talk them up too much, I do get the impression that too much time is spent beating up a strawman where the bilateral series achievement and other things are evidence that this is the greatest team of all time and that Cook is a better captain than Brearley (I hope this doesn’t get viewed as a strawman itself lol), neither of which I have actually seen any of the usual suspects directly claim or in my opinion obviously imply (inbetween some genuine cheerleading, I accept), and the difference in standards isn’t so damaging that we have to keep ransacking up the genuine achievements of both Cook and this side as a whole over and over and over and over again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jun 9, 2016 / 9:21 pm

        I think the changes and innovation you talk about is more relevant to the 20/20 game. (Scoop shots, and slower balls and stuff. ) but not Test cricket.

        England have become quite successful at Test cricket just as everyone else is moving away to the shorter game. I wouldn’t give those 1990s players much chance against modem 20/20 players at 20/20 cricket. But I would back them against this test team any day.


      • Sean B Jun 9, 2016 / 9:39 pm

        Comparing era’s is always difficult and we’ll never know how Cook, Root etc would’ve performed against Waqar, McGrath, Walsh and Donald and the like in their prime, more just a gut feeling.

        I don’t feel I’ve ever ransacked Cooks achievements in getting to 10,000 runs (correct me if I’m wrong) but the media circus that has followed this has left me decidedly uncomfortable.


        • LordCanisLupus Jun 10, 2016 / 4:11 am

          I am so glad I was out of the country when it finally went down. Cook is a fine player, but he’s nowhere near my favourite. Those two positions are not mutually exclusive. When numbskulls get that into their heads, we’ll all be better off.

          It’s factual to say that in the last three years, Alastair has made three centuries. Gary Ballance made three in his first six tests, and four in a year. Bairstow has made three this calendar year. We need him to be prolific to get to number one. I saw Newman say today that he was “back to his best form” which is a refrain we heard throughout 2014 and we weren’t buying it then. In fact, it was/is a red flag. He’s gone 16 innings without a hundred. He’s gone past 150 twice since 1 January 2013. Truly great players are more prolific. Cook is a top player, a really top player, but you know where I’m going here. He should be at his peak (in his 32nd year). I saw someone compare him to Lara’s record. In his 32nd year, Lara had THAT tour of Sri Lanka (178, 40, 74, 45, 221 and 130). That’s just one. Ricky Ponting in the two years up to his 32nd birthday averaged 78.05 and 82.28 with TEN hundreds. We need Cook to figure out how to make those massive contributions, not read paeans to him from a compliant media.

          Liked by 3 people

      • Mark Jun 9, 2016 / 9:48 pm

        Sean, I agree. The media circus surrounding Cooks England resembles Noth Korea.


        • LordCanisLupus Jun 10, 2016 / 3:56 am

          Paddy Briggs, who I follow on Twitter, said the following:

          “Gone fishing….”


      • LordCanisLupus Jun 10, 2016 / 4:16 am

        Brearley was such a great captain he avoided skippering against the West Indies in test matches!

        I do wonder if we look through the prism of Brearley being the man to get the best out of Botham rather than anything substantial! I was young, so someone tell me! After all, when Aussie were at full strength in 1979-80 we were whitewashed 3-0 by them with him in charge (remember the 5-1).

        This might be a Surrey fan talking here 🙂


      • Mark Jun 10, 2016 / 7:05 am

        Interesting your comemts on Brearley. The thing to always keep in mind was he was a people person rather than a great tactician. He would go on to practice psychology professionaly. He did get the best out of Botham, and he also seemed to solve Bob Willis problem with his run up and endless no balls. Some will say a simple solution to tell Willis not to worry about the no balls and just bowl fast. But it worked.

        His problem was his batting. He just didn’t warrant a place in the team on ability alone. And he knew it. There were always murmurings in the dressing room about it. And in the media. (Can you imagine a cricket media who actually criticised the Englamd captain? Hard to believe today. )


    • Anthony Bennett Jun 9, 2016 / 9:33 pm

      I fully expect Woakes to score a ton tomorrow. The fact is that batsmen down the order can play a bit more freely than those above, and at the moment the lower order has some naturally free-playing and talented batsmen in it. If you put Ali and Bairstow at 3 and 4, for the sake of argument, would they do well? Yes, probably. The reality is that the current top order, Root aside, is short of players capable of dominating. Vince may have it in him but we have had no chance to see it yet. Cook is Cook, and to see him leaving Angelo Mathews’ military medium dobbers for over after over was an unenjoyable spectacle. Hales seems to be just lacking in the judgment needed in shot selection. I don’t feel he’s on the cusp of a classic innings of 150 next up though.


      • LordCanisLupus Jun 10, 2016 / 4:12 am

        Seriously. Anyone seen anything in Vince to persuade you he’s the chosen one?

        Genuine question.


      • nonoxcol Jun 10, 2016 / 5:23 am

        I’ve Seen Much.
        It’s Some Mystery why he is being puffed up.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sean B Jun 9, 2016 / 8:39 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. The England team of the mid to late 90’s would trounce this team. Atherton, Stewart, Thorpe, Gough and probably Hussain would easily walk into this side, but hey they don’t have silver commemorative bats and that’s what matters these days.

    This really isn’t a golden era for Test cricket

    Liked by 1 person

  5. nonoxcol Jun 9, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    Guardian BTL has possibly the single most meta comment ever this evening.

    Mike Selvey is attacked for repeatedly criticising Vince, and the poster concludes from this that he must be a “drooling KP fanboy”.


    • Sean B Jun 9, 2016 / 9:45 pm

      Always said that Selvey was a versatile operator lol. Guess the commenter has never been on the Grauniad cricket pages before. Still it might be fun to accuse Sir Mike of being a KP fanboy….I guess a lot of confusion reigns in the Selvey household right now..


      • LordCanisLupus Jun 10, 2016 / 3:57 am

        He’s now claiming it is “tongue in cheek”.

        I may be getting old. I may be getting immune to this shite. But I am not buying it.


    • LordCanisLupus Jun 10, 2016 / 4:11 am

      “Tongue in cheek”.

      No use making a quip if no-one gets it.


      • nonoxcol Jun 10, 2016 / 5:19 am

        It doesn’t work, because three quarters of the comment (re Vince) does not come across as ironic at all, so any point he was trying to make is completely undercut.

        I hesitated to mention it, because Mr Apex was one of the most prominent pearl clutchers in 2014, so his default position is always at the Court of Lord Selvey.


  6. Anthony Bennett Jun 9, 2016 / 9:47 pm

    I don’t see why we should expect Borthwick to do much better than Compton. It’s a tough task for an inexperienced player to succeed batting at 3. For years we had the problem of unsuccessful number threes, only resolved by Trott, who was a natural. My preference would be for Root to bite the bullet but we know that isn’t going to happen. Vince may have what it takes. Whichever way we look at it, the England hierarchy’s approach to finding a successor to Trott shows no sign of getting anywhere yet.


    • Sean B Jun 9, 2016 / 9:54 pm

      Agree totally Anthony, another opener and a classic number 3 is something we’ve missed for a long while. Trott was a great number 3 and someone we’ve never managed to replace.


      • SimonH Jun 10, 2016 / 7:18 am

        Just to point out that Trott wasn’t a “natural” No. 3 – he’d batted at Nos. 4 or 5 most of his career before England and I’ve seen him say in interviews they’re the positions he prefers.


    • SimonH Jun 10, 2016 / 7:43 am

      On Borthwick, it’s pretty lacking in class from whoever floated his name to Ali Martin while the current Test is only in its second day.

      Nothing against Borthwick who clearly deserves to be in the frame given the weight of CC runs he’s scored. I’ve been thinking it was weird how little his name seemed to be discussed – and I don’t think he’s played for the Lions for a while (others could maybe confirm that?).

      I just hoped they’re thinking of him for his batting – and not as the second spinner for India.


  7. LordCanisLupus Jun 10, 2016 / 12:46 am

    OK. I’ve seen next to nothing of today’s play, I have not tried to listen to it, as I’m trying to make the most out of the last few days of my holiday. Oh, and starting a new sideline on US sport ( http://www.dmitriamericana.wordpress.com ). Don’t worry. This blog will always come first.

    Yet again England’s middle order failed. Yet again we don’t get into the 100 without losing at least three wickets. And can someone tell me why Vince is the answer at number three when he’s hardly solidified his place in the relative armchair at number 5?

    As for Cook, well it’s another decent score but not a hundred. The standards have to be set for all. 80s are not good enough for middle order players establishing a place, so there are no excuses for missing out when you’ve done the hard yards as opener. Cook will know that. He’s probably more annoyed than all of us put together at not going on.

    In answer to you Sean, Cook did play a magnificent hundred in the second innings against New Zealand at Lord’s last year. I thought it was one of his best, if not best, hundred for England.

    I’m now off to see what Stocks is saying about Compton.


      • nonoxcol Jun 10, 2016 / 5:13 am

        I really hope they haven’t mis-spelled his surname. That would be terrible.


      • d'Arthez Jun 10, 2016 / 9:29 am

        Well, good thing the ECB did not get their hands on Quinton de Kock …


    • Mark Jun 10, 2016 / 7:10 am

      Is it a shot of the moon Landings?


      • SimonH Jun 10, 2016 / 7:51 am

        Has Special Agent Etheridge got his magnifying glass out for this photo?


  8. Quebecer Jun 10, 2016 / 3:17 am

    Not bothering to post this on the guardian, but I don’t think Cook was making his way serenely to his century at all. I reckon the Lankans hit on something by coming round the wicket to him, as although cook hit some boundaries to leg, the angle had got his head falling way over to the offside as he did it. Then sure enough, one straightened a tad, he played all around it – with his head at a sideways angle way outside off stump. Not sure how deliberate it was from Sri Lanka, but coming round the wicket induced a technical regression for Cook (he’d worked very hard in the past to get rid of that falling over to off tendency) and I think he’d better be wary of it creeping back in if the Lankan and Pakistani attack persist with that approach.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus Jun 10, 2016 / 3:54 am

      If Amir is anywhere near where he was last time they were here (and even when he was over-stepping, he was still running through our line-up) then it is going to be a real challenge for Cook. I don’t see the respite in that series for him.

      Of course, Q (and I should formally welcome such an esteemed contributor – welcome!), I’ve not seen a lot at all of today (indeed, at time of writing, just the Cook dismissal), so can’t tell if there’s been assistance or not. But it looked a lovely day in London, so I’m assuming the atmosphere wasn’t a problem.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Jun 10, 2016 / 8:33 am

        I thought Cook would be nailed on to make a ton on the Lord’s freeway against an increasingly threadbare Sri Lankan attack, but 85 it was. It’s a good thing I only gamble once in a blue moon. Like you I see problems for the England batting line-up (let alone Cook) when the Amir, Riaz, Shah et al role into town. What will probably let England off is that the Pakistan batsmen will probably struggle even more against Broad and Anderson than what our lot will do to those.

        Cook will probably have a good winter in Asia, though it remains to be seen if we even tour Bangladesh given the political situation there.


      • Quebecer Jun 10, 2016 / 2:13 pm

        Golly, far too kind! But thanks for the welcome 🙂


  9. BoredInAustria Jun 10, 2016 / 11:06 am

    Woakes busy batting Compton out of a chance to bat again?


  10. Benny Jun 10, 2016 / 1:23 pm

    I feel sorry for Compton. The commentators greeted him to the crease as a batsman who was horribly out of form while Bairstow was mentioned as being in the form of his life. Reckon there’s a clue here that picking players in form is helpful and making judgements on players out of form may be silly.

    Past players? I remember watching Sir Viv from behind John Snow’s run up at Hove and compared with what I’ve seen of Voges on TV, yes, Viv was far superior. I think it is certainly possible to make a call on current v past players, if you’ve seen them. I reckon Lillee and Thompson would have run through England today but, as for Lindwall and Miller, I couldn’t tell you.


    • Mark Jun 10, 2016 / 2:39 pm

      25% having to be hitting instead of 50% is much more what I would call clipping the stumps. Which is what I thought it was supposed to be. So I agree with that, and yes it will mean more batsman being given out. I’m happy with that. Let’s see how it goes. So batting will be come more difficult. Cook really has played in an easy age. (One for the North Korea cricket journos.)

      Having said all that, it was still a shocking umpires call yesterday. The batsman was stuck on his crease, and it hit the back pad. You might give benefit of the doubt if hitting the front pad, but not back pad. I’m still to be convinced that umpires are not erring on the side of big 3 caution. Let’s see how many LBWs they give out for Sri Lanka.


  11. Benny Jun 10, 2016 / 2:26 pm

    Today the weather round here is dull, I’m not busy and I’m enjoying watching the cricket. Best of all, the commentators are experimenting with periods of silence rather than the usual wall of sound. Bairstow’s just dropped another. Ather’s is blaming Lords. Yes really.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ian Jun 10, 2016 / 2:30 pm

      Terrible drop. No excuses at all for that.


      • Mark Jun 10, 2016 / 2:42 pm

        True, but he did make a big hundred, so I guess he may be a little weary. The days of specialist wicketkeepers at test matches is over for most teams. They have to be batsman first now.

        Another reason why its stacked in the batsmans favour.


  12. SimonH Jun 10, 2016 / 7:17 pm

    It would be interesting to know what the viewing figures have been for this Test. It could be the first Test for several decades where the ground attendance exceeds the TV audience.

    Meanwhile, the first comment on the Selvey thread kicks things off with a nice bit of hating. Comments to follow of the “when are they ever going to shut up about him, these fanboys won’t move on” ilk, no doubt.


    • SimonH Jun 10, 2016 / 8:14 pm

      That comment has been thoroughly eviscerated by a promising new poster.


      • nonoxcol Jun 10, 2016 / 8:27 pm

        Beautiful work, wasn’t it?


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