England comfortably enjoyed their best days in the field away from home in more than 2 years in their comprehensive victory in the First Test in Galle, something that a number of us didn’t see coming. They won the toss, recovered from their standard top order wobble in the first innings thanks to a supremely cool maiden ton from Ben Foakes, managed a decent first innings lead and then turned the screw in the second innings thanks to a rather surprising century than none other than Keaton Jennings. With a 450+ lead in the bag, it was no surprise to see England’s spin trio mop up the Sri Lankan innings and with it a fairly crushing defeat for the hosts.
Despite England’s comprehensive victory, it has been a little baffling why very little has been made of this performance or of Sri Lanka’s woeful performance, in fact one would need to look pretty hard to find any mention of this at all. It may be that England are rightly looking to play this victory down owing to the fact that there are 2 games left of the series and that we don’t yet know what type of pitches they will face in the next 2 games (unlikely), that they are mortally embarrassed at having it pointed out that this was the first victory away from home by England in more than 2 years, something that should be unacceptable to the team and board (they should be, but unlikely) or that no-one gives one jot about this series and it is more of an annoyance than anything else (most probably). Indeed, I completely forgot there was a Test Match on tomorrow, hence why I am doing this preview slightly later than I normally would. I know that cricket doesn’t grasp the imagination of many English residents these days, nor does the start time or the fact that it is stuck behind the pay wall help either, but I’ve seen more coverage of the Women’s T20 tournament than any of the Test the past week. It’s almost like everyone hoped it might get rained off and then everyone could get home and put their feet up.
So despite this lack of enthusiasm from the English press or fans, we now move onto Kandy (well I say Kandy, Pallekele is a fair way out, good luck to those trying to get to the ground without access to a car or a favourable Tuk-Tuk driver)! England have named an unchanged team for the Test, which I find mildly strange given that Kandy is up in the hills and generally a much cooler climate and hence this may have been the opportunity to go with 4 seamers. Now I haven’t seen the pitch report yet, but one would hope that this decision is based on these pitch conditions rather than those in Galle, as we have seen England pick unbalanced teams on sub-continental tours in the past based on what they think the pitch will be like rather than what it will actually play like. Talking of mildly perplexing decisions, England in all their wisdom have decided to have Ben Stokes take the number 3 position, when in all reality Root, who might not greatly enjoy batting at 3, should be the man to bat there on this tour. It again smacks of England trying to fit square pegs into round holes and although Moeen hasn’t really made any scores at number 3, I’m not sure how promoting someone who has the same technical flaws and is a cast iron number 6 at Test level, is going to help matters really. They may as well put St. Jimmy of Burnley at number 3 and be done with it! In all seriousness though, England somehow need to find a number 3 for the Summer ahead as none of the surfeit of number 6’s and number 7’s that we have seem to have acquired is going to stand a chance at batting at 3 in English conditions; indeed if the ball does indeed move about early in Pallekele, then one may guess that Root will be in early anyway. In my opinion, it just feels like another wasted opportunity to give a more promising player at that position some game time at 3 rather than having a number of bits and pieces players trying to cover up the glaring hole, not that our friends at The Spin agree, as naturally Ed Smith is the new Sir Alex Ferguson and a master of tactics and selection:
This particular piece of delightful bollocks was by Rob Smyth, but could have been Andy Bull or any other of the strays that the Guardian picks up to write these columns. One could almost hark back to the Mike Selvey era when reading this tripe, although I did say ALMOST.
As for Sri Lanka, it was a sad sight seeing Rangana Herath retiring after such a comprehensive loss, as he has been an integral part of Sri Lanka’s success on the sub-continent and will be a massive loss to them. They will no doubt find another spinner to try and bamboozle England on this tour, but those are big shoes to fill especially with the batting looking weak even before the withdrawal of Dinesh Chandimal through injury.
Of course, this could just be another one of the Test’s where you win the toss, bat first and win the game. If so, then England must hope that Joe Root’s luck in calling the coin toss correctly continues away from home.
We are slightly light in number for this particular game with 2 of our writers unavailable for very different reasons, so please bear with us if the daily reports are shorter than normal, later than normal or in extreme cases might not happen. Due to work commitments, neither Danny or myself will be able to see any of the live cricket and might struggle to catch the highlights, but we will write as much as we can.
As ever comments on the game or anything else (not Brexit) are welcome below:
At the least, I find it very interesting. After all these years, picking our best keeper, picking spinners for spinning wickets, picking the opener who gets more runs than any other – quite exciting. Very interested by Stokes at 3, who knows it might work.
Could be that Sri Lanka won’t be much of a challenge but if the chaps settle into their roles, how good
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England win the series. Could tell from the toss.
That was a really good day of test cricket and this is turning into a much better series than I expected.
Are we that bored with England cricket that no-one feels like commenting on it? Or are you bored with us? 🙂
From my standpoint, an interesting, if quintessentially this England team’s kind of day. Starts aplenty, some nice cameos, some disappointing failures, and a score that appears neither here nor there. If we skittle them, then Sri Lanka are bad. If we don’t, then we are bad. Or so the simple lines to take will go.
Thank god for Sam Curran. A cricketer I can really cheer on. Oh, and Adil too. Of course.
Come on peeps, bring the noise!
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I don’t care anymore. I am not their target demographic.They have made that very clear. So they can go f*** themselves.
I’ll never get bored with BOC.
This series leaves me a bit cold though. Also, I’ve just started a proper job for the first time in quite a few years (apparently, being a full time parent doesn’t count as a job!) and had a few night shift/day shift combos that have left me unexpectedly weary in the last few weeks.
Now, if anyone seemed to be starting a campaign for Andy Flower to become the next Director Comma, that might perk my posting abilities up a bit…..
Someone at the Guardian is, there was a piece on how the Lions tour prepared some of them (4 I think, Foakes. Leach, Jennings and not sure (maybe Curran)
And who is in charge of the Lions?
The sign off was in football parlance ‘a come and get me plea’ on behalf of Andy Flower.
Not seen any of this series apart from brief highlights on Sky Sports news whilst at the gym.
Will try and watch tomorrow
Hey, we’re all adapting to the ECB missive where the only thing massive will be the passage into all our hearts so massaged by the message when the 100 starts so as not be be old farts….
In other news – yes this series is truly interesting, having only heard first sessions on Talksport2 (whose commentary and before/after insight and comment have been, in the main, excellent)
The development of the Test team is really interesting at the mo’ (not the Mo) and may be evolving part by luck/bad luck and forethought too.
Of course, SL will be 400-3 by end of play tomorrow…
Keep an angey smile LCL, we need you to lead here, so to love!
Curran for the #3 slot.
That has already been mooted by some members of the Sky mob. You wouldn’t think he was originally picked for his bowling