Posted by: tootingtrumpet | November 27, 2018

England Player Ratings for Sri Lanka Test series

Yeah. 48 wickets between them in three Tests.

Keaton Jennings (233 runs at 47, 8 catches)

His outstanding 146* set up the crucial series opening win in Galle, though he struggled thereafter. Won the dubious award of fielding at short leg for his career after a run of sensational catches off the spinners. Grade B

Rory Burns (155 runs at 26, 1 catch)

A start. The debutant did not really fail, but he did not really succeed either. The Surrey captain showed plenty of nous in adapting his game to an alien environment, but has an important series coming up in the West Indies. Grade C+

Jonny Bairstow (125 runs at 63)

Handed the poison chalice of number three rather than his preferred gloves, but threw down the gauntlet to the pretenders with a brilliant century. With Ben Foakes’s form irresistible, he might not always get what he wants, but he just might find, he gets what the team needs. Grade A

Joe Root (229 runs at 38, 1 wicket at 46, 2 catches)

The first England captain to whitewash opponents overseas since 1962/63, his gospel of aggression with the bat was called into question at Galle when England were 103-5 on the first morning, but wholly vindicated by his series shaping 124 at Pallekele. In contrast, he was often defensive in his field setting, particularly to new batsmen, but played the tricky hand of three spinners perfectly and got a tune out of Ben Stokes when required. Winning three out of three tosses was handy too. Grade B+

Ben Stokes (187 runs at 31, 5 wickets at 20, 9 catches)

The promotion to number three in Pallekele made sense, but probably won’t happen again, as he looked more comfortable contributing from five, where he rode his luck a little, but fortune so often attaches itself to the big personalities of the game. Ran in very hard to bang an old ball into unresponsive surfaces and rough up Sri Lanka’s batsmen who won’t often have seen that style of bowling in home conditions. Caught very well off the spinners at slip where his mere presence lifts his own team and intimidates opponents. Grade B+   

Jos Buttler (250 runs at 42, 3 catches)

Though his highest score was 64 in Colombo (also his longest innings at 79 balls), in a low scoring series his capacity to wrest the initiative and carry his team into significantly improved positions as much by his aura as by his boundaries (his strike rate was the same as his skipper’s), proved invaluable. Probably gets more praise than his performances warrant (that aura again) but he delivered exactly what Ed Smith wanted when the National Selector reintroduced him to Test cricket last summer. Grade B+   

Moeen Ali (78 runs at 13, 18 wickets at 25, 3 catches)

As ever, do you berate Moeen for his bad balls, or praise him for his good ones? Do you pull your hair out over the runs he doesn’t score or rejoice in those he does? Perhaps pundits and fans need to show the same sang froid that the man himself brings to his cricket. Whether he was first, second or third spinner was moot, but his ability to spin the ball at a pace that zips it passed a defensive bat, particularly round the wicket to left-handers, was a key element in England’s win. And just because you can ask for more (like batting at three in Galle), doesn’t mean that you should. Grade B+

Ben Foakes (277 runs at 69, 8 catches, 2 stumpings)

Introduced to Test cricket on that madcap first morning beneath the Fort at Galle with England 103-5 off 23.3 overs, he set about constructing a beachhead into the match as if to the manner born. He proceeded to spend the next two sessions consistently knocking the ball into gaps for one and hitting the bad ball to the boundary, only opening his shoulders the next morning in the company of the tail. He backed up that wonder debut with the consistency to finish as the leading run scorer in the the series. Of course, he was picked primarily for his wicketkeeping, and that was usually tidy, sometimes more than that, his errors really only coming as fatigue set in a little in Colombo. Having not even been selected for the original party, he can look forward to plenty more winters in the sunshine now. Grade A+

Sam Curran (112 runs at 37, 1 wicket at 50)

Found a little swing with the new ball and would have taken more than his solitary wicket with a bit more luck, but two seamers were plenty on these pitches and he might have been rotated out for Colombo even if fully fit. But Curran is a player who gets into any game anywhere and his batting at Galle (where his partnership with Foakes realised 88 runs) and Pallekele (where his extraordinary shift in gear brought him six sixes and 64 first innings runs in a match won by 57) proved his value down the order. Grade B

Adil Rashid (113 runs at 28, 12 wickets at 28)

He looks happy in his role coming late into the attack and ripping leg-breaks across the middle and lower order with the odd flummoxing googly tossed up to keep them honest. Always has a drag down or two in him, but he had just enough runs on the board to give him the confidence to attack from first to last and, perhaps more importantly, had a team behind him who both knew and accepted the leg spinner’s lot in life. Though he’s a better batsman than his whips and squirts suggests, his runs were very useful too. Grade B+

Jack Leach (25 runs at 5, 18 wickets at 21, 1 catch)

Shane Warne’s jibe about Monty Panesar having played one Test 33 times might well be made in the future about Leach – if so, let it be. The Somerset left-armer kept landing it there or thereabouts, seldom full enough to drive or short enough to cut, sufficient balls spinning and jumping  to ensure the batsmen did not get after the stock deliveries. Turned the Colombo Test with a brilliant pick up and throw to run out Kusal Mendis, who was on 86 and winning the Test for his country. Grade A

Stuart Broad (1 run at 1, 1 catch)

To his credit, he didn’t sulk when left out of the first two Tests and bowled quickly when rotated in for the third, although his batting and fielding are now so bad that if he isn’t taking wickets, he really isn’t doing anything. He might want to work on his cutters for the West Indies, but he might find it tough to get past Curran and even Chris Woakes away from the green, green grass of home. Grade C

Jimmy Anderson (19 runs at 19, 1 wicket at 105, 1 catch)

Bowled well without luck, but this was a spinners’ series. Grade B-

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Responses

  1. Nice one.

    Good perspective about Buttler often seeming to be more impressive than his actual numbers.

    But then why lose perspective on someone with three times as many runs, three times as many catches, and the same number of wickets, as Leach? Leach A, Moeen B+?

    Also, Bairstow A? Yes he didn’t sulk, and yes he scored a century. But it was only one Test, and his nigh-on churlish press conference after that wiped out any merit points he may have gained for “not sulking”.

    Still, I always appreciate your perspective on these things.

    • Cheers Ravi.

      Leach exceeded expectations and also bowled with the new ball quite a bit. And that run out! Mo disappointed with the bat.

      YJB did all one could ask of him!

      • I disagree, but won’t turn this into one of those interminable cricket arguments.

        Thanks for your considered perspective.

        (I don’t know why, but I suddenly had a flash vision of Sen waiting for the train…)


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