Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 21, 2011

England vs Sri Lanka Series Report Card – England

England's men of the series - Tremlett and Bell.

Andrew Strauss (27 runs @ 6.75) – When he wasn’t getting out to left-armers, he was getting out to right-armers. Seems stuck between being aggressive and hitting his way back into form and being cautious and watchful. All that’s happening now is indecisive footwork until he’s striding back to the pavilion. Passive in captaincy and occasionally uncharacteristically tetchy. Has plenty of credit in the bank and might need it, because form is reluctant to return to a 34 year-old.

Alastair Cook (390 runs @ 97.50) – He’s enjoying it at the moment. Shown just a little fallibility in his preternatural concentration by getting out on 96 at Lord’s and 55 at the Rose Bowl, but that, like Michael Vaughan’s old problems in the 190s or KP’s in the 150s, is not a bad problem to have. Would it hurt to rest him from the ODIs, before the Number Ones turn up? Oh yes – of course it would. He’s the captain.

Jonathan Trott (267 runs @ 66.75, 1 wicket @ 58.00) – Set up the decisive win by doing the Trott thing of playing at his own pace (which is not as slow as his detractors would have you believe). At his best, he defends like Dravid and attacks like Tendulkar – and is likely to continue to do so from the notoriously tricky England Number Three slot for many years. Seventh bowler at most.

KP (162 runs @ 40.50, 0 wicket @ 40.00) – The old KP is being glimpsed again, albeit the flamingo is still under wraps. Much more decisive in his footwork this series, with less premeditation and a clearer understanding of his scoring options, has helped to bring back confidence. Will enjoy seeing the Number One side in the world riding into town. Eighth bowler at best.

Ian Bell (331 runs @ 331.00) – Scoring at a Bradmanesque average in the style of Mark Waugh, it’s hard to believe he (or anyone) can play much better. Those who kept the faith are being paid back with interest. It can’t last of course – never does – but a Bell at 50% of this form will still be hugely important later in the summer.

Eoin Morgan (168 runs @ 56.00) – Looked at home in Test cricket showing good shot selection and patience, especially early in his innings. The standard of bowling must have been familiar from Division Two county championship matches, but Test cricket has its own pressures, and they simply did not show at all.

Matt Prior (130 runs @ 43.33, 11 catches, one stumping) – Scored at nearly a run a ball and is now an intimidating sight for tiring bowlers. Like another hard-hitting keeper, he is unselfish in hitting out when the match situation demands, meaning that his average does not fully reflect his batting contribution. Still not much more than tidy with the gloves, but that’s plenty good enough just now.

Stuart Broad (8 wickets @48.75, 57 runs @ 19.00) – As he looks more and more natural with the bat, he looks less and less natural with the ball. Has a useful bouncer for the tail, but seems to run in and hope when bowling to the top seven. We might have to give up on him ever becoming McGrath, so he might benefit from watching old clips of Andy Caddick pitching them up or even a hour or so of a bloke who ran through the Aussies at The Oval in 2009.

Swanny (12 wickets @ 23.58, 4 runs @ 4.00) – A kind of anti-Broad as a bowler, finding a way to threaten to take a wicket almost every ball. He has the Indian master batsmen up next and they’ve seen it all before, so it’s a big test. Has turn, bounce, drift, control and as much guile as anyone since SK Warne to call upon and that’s before we mention his chutzpah. Snared 12 victims, but it could have been more.

Chris Tremlett (15 wickets @ 23.40, 24 runs) – Often good, sometimes unplayable, he pulled batsmen forward with a length that allowed the ball to swing and seam and pushed batsmen back with rearing short-of-a-length snorters. Some talk of Joel Garner, but he’s more Curtly Ambrose, especially when tightening his line to off and fourth stump. All of a sudden, very important to England’s bowling unit.

Jimmy Anderson (7 wickets @ 29.00, 28 runs @ 14) – Not quite the stellar performance of recent times despite helpful conditions, but still a superb technician and a handful for lefties especially. Needs to stay fit for four Tests in a short period come late July and probably won’t.

Steve Finn (4 wickets @ 34.75, 19 runs @ 19.00) – Keeps taking wickets, 50 of them now, the youngest Englishman to do achieve that mini-milestone. Leaks runs, so not a pressure builder on that account, but taking a wicket every seven overs makes a dressing room jumpy (Broad needs 11.3 overs per wicket). Is current playing for Middlesex – which is a good thing, as the lad needs to bowl and bowl to groove a good action into an excellent one.

Gary Naylor, whom you can tweet at @garynaylor999 and find at Cricket On Five, and



  1. Broad could also watch the 2nd innings of the Boxing Day Durban Test of 2009 when he snared Kallis, Duminy and de Villiers, the first two bowled and the third lbw. He also had Boucher caught at the wicket. He thus ran through both the Aussies and the Proteas in the space of four months with thoughtful, swinging, fuller pitched bowling. Tremlett’s back of a length snorters seem far more discomforting than Broad’s chest-beating short stuff, so surely the Andrews can stand Broad down from roughing up duties. I know it’s incredibly simplistic just to trot out the ‘Broad must bowl fuller’ line as if that will do the trick in all conditions, but I really do miss that bowler of 2009.

    • Yes Mr Demon, I felt it was a bit simplistic too, that I must be missing something – but I do think it’s a matter of length. He should bowl more balls that would go on to hit the stumps.

  2. How come Bell is never used as a bowler? Does anyone know why? He’d have to be at least as much use as Trott, more I’d think.

    • There were times when Bell was being talked up as a bowling option, but he doesn’t seem to bowl at all now – a shame, really.

  3. I don’t think you should give up on Broad ever becoming McGrath, at least not until he gets to the point in his career where he will use his head and start bowling McGrath length instead of this Tremlett lite that he seems intent on bowling. He jsut seems to forever want to copy what they guy at the other end did to get that last wicket rather that be his own man and exploit his own strengths.
    Rather than watching Andy Caddick clips, time might be better spent showing him footage of how the great teams bowled in packs, each bowler with his own distict attributes.
    As much as I rate him probably more highly than most on here, I do think he needs a good kick up that arse (dropped for a marque series) to get his development back on track. It has been too easy for him to get to where is his at relative to guys like Tremlett and Onions et al.

    • He’s got all the equipment to be a very good bowler. I’d agree with him being dropped to wake him up. Getting a shock is very good for some people and he’s obviously very competitive so hopefully we’d start seeing evidence of the ‘brains’ that he is spoken of having..

  4. Just one other point. More should be made of the fact that by going for it in Cardiff when in the past England may not have done so, the series was won.

  5. That does seem a frightening bowling attack, Toots, even for the famed Indian batting line-up. I dont believe Sehwag will have any success in England. He is less than 50% threatening as he is otherwise.
    Gambhir’s first real test – alien conditions, and a real good bowling attack unlike the Kiwis whom he stonewalled for a famous draw for India, and thus earned his all-weather performer tag.

    And the backup openers are unspeakably bad(Vijay and Mukund)

    Dravid – npot really threatening any more. Laxman is a lax man and he is not going to give sleepless nights to this England attack.

    I have a sneaking feeling the cricketing Gods are going to punish Tendulkar for preferring IPL over a test series. You cant pick and choose like that. It is clear he wants IPL money over test matches. I reckon the Crickeging Gods will probably say “You can keep the money, Mr Tendulkar. We’ll give the runs to the more desparate and deserving Trotts and Cooks”.

    Except Kohli, none of the other #6 aspirants are worth fearing about.
    That leaves a lot to do for Dhoni and Harbhajan, the former of whom did save a test match last time in England.

    All in all, England bowlers are stronger than they are given credit for viz a viz Indian batting lineup, who are weaker than they are given credit for.

    • Very interesting points.
      What about the other end – England’s batting lineup v India’s bowling?
      Other than Perth, England’s batsmen have looked very solid in the last 12 months, with their ability to pick the right balls to leave being key. Will be interesting to see how this goes aginst a better class of bowler.

      • Not sure if the Indian bowling attack can be called a better class than the Aussie bowling attack.
        England batsmen will have a real good bowling attack to face – and that will reveal their overall level of greatness – when they face South Africa. There is no other bowling attack – barring Pakistan who a) cannot always field their best attack owing to bans, selectors not liking the best players etc b) even if they do, we cannot be sure the bowlers will perform as it depends on whether or not they are clean – that can test this English batting line up.

        • I recall similar underestimation of the Indian ODI side before, and after the initial matches, at the recent WC. But we saw how that tale ended.

          For those who missed it, Gambhir’s already shown his mettle against Steyn & Morkel on seaming & bouncing SA pitches (at Centurion & Newlands). The man has fighting spirit galore in addition to class.

          Sehwag is unpredictable, and made hardly any impact in SA. But he’s made Day 1 hundreds in both Australia and SA before. Believing he’ll have no success whatsoever in England is a bit of a stretch.

          Dravid hasn’t been ageing well. But on a tricky Kingston wicket, he’s shown he retains class and determination. And Laxman recently won India a Test match on as green a Durban pitch as ever. And averaged over 75 in 2010.

          I don’t know what the cricketing Gods have in store for Tendulkar. I too was disappointed that he asked to be rested from the WI tour. But realistically, it is tough for a man who’s the No. 1 drawcard for his board’s baby (IPL) and the captain of his team to say to his board & his franchise (who have built the team around him) that he wants to skip the event. Only Tendulkar could… and probably would if the England tour were right after the IPL… but he didn’t. What it means is his mind is now focused on the England tour, and he will fight with everything he’s got.

          Kohli or Pujara or Raina will be an interesting choice for No. 6. All 3 have a good temperament, but the first 2 have better techniques.

          As for the bowling, the Indian seamers are more skilful than Australia’s in the Ashes (who hardly moved the ball). Zaheer, Munaf, Sreesanth, Praveen and Ishant all either swing or seam the ball; Ishant also brings pace & bounce. Not as menacing as SA, but skilful and canny.

          And the English batting has already been tested, severely at that, by SA just over a year ago. You would have to say the Proteas bowling won that contest. For without 2 gutsy tailender efforts, SA would have won 3-1. Of course, credit to the English tail for securing a 1-1. But the top order was conquered.

          Aside from that, I agree with everything posted. :)

  6. lovely article.
    do visit us. Thank you.

  7. Great article as usual, Gary. As an Indian, I have been keenly following England’s fortunes against the Lankans, and think that the upcoming series against India is going to be a real humdinger between 2 well-matched teams. Lanka is going through a team-building phase, suddenly going from fielding a formidable attack featuring Murali and Malinga to a slightly more pedestrian one, so I wouldnt necessarily read too much into England’s performance against them.
    Even so, I suspect England does have the upper hand against India, because of its superior bowling attack. However, Indian bowlers typically punch well above their weight in England – gentle dobblers take a liking to the swing they get there and end up with a few cheap wickets. Zaheer and Ishant are reasonably competent, and England would be wise to watch this guy Praveen Kumar carefully – assuming he can sort out his action (he is currently having schoolboyish issues with keeping off the pitch during his follow through) . He bowls at about Anil Kumble’s pace, but bends it late in both directions, and I wouldnt be surprised if he suddenly becomes Roger Binny Mark 2 (in the department of being cannon fodder elsewhere but a cannon in England).
    What the cricketing gods have in store for Tendulkar and Sehwag I do not know, but Dravid is looking in ominous nick against the Windies, and Laxman never looks more than one match away from hitting glorious form (even when he fails consecutively in five). I’d be surprised if Gambhir does much against genuine pace and seam, but as kaminey points out above, he is better than the other options by a mile.

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