true faith : BALL GAMES ALLOWED

by • June 26, 2014 • News, tf blogsComments (1)704

Test Series Review 

England 0 Sri Lanka 1 

First Test, day five, Lords 

England (575-9 dec & 267-8 dec) drew with Sri Lanka (453 & 201-9) 

Second Test, Headingley (day five) 

Sri Lanka 257 & 457 beat England 365 & 249 by 100 runs

England lost the two match mini Test series to Sri Lanka with a dramatic 100 run defeat inMooenAli Leeds on Tuesday.  Normally 100 run defeats aren’t dramatic but this wasn’t a normal test match in an engrossing series which ultimately underlined the fine lines between success and failure at this level but also that it could be argued that England are at their lowest ebb since 1997.

England could have won the first Test and they thought they had with the penultimate delivery of the match, only for the Sri Lankan batsmen to successfully overturn the decision and hang on for a draw.  Incredible drama that simply cannot be replicated in any other sport and even in cricket doesn’t happen very often….until this time it happened the very next Test and England lost the game with the second last ball of the match, after 5 days of cricket.  Heart-breaking.

It could be argued there were plenty of positives to come out of the series.   If England had held on it would have been the first time in the history of the game that a team entered the final day five wickets down and secured a draw with all 90 overs being bowled in the day.  England lasted 89.4.  It was also good to see England score over 400 again (the first time since 2012?!?!) and the contributions of Moeen Ali, Plunket, Jordan, Robson & Balance throughout the series were positive in spells and England’s new look team essentially had one bad day in 10 and lost the series.  In addition Sri Lanka are by no means a walkover at this level and it was never going to be easy to rebuild so quickly after so many retirements and the introduction of a new coach.  With ben Stokes to come back into the side England will be stronger and all of the batsmen achieved notable scores after the horrors of the winter.

So that’s the alleged positives out of the way.  I’m far more cynical and struggling to find ‘positives’ from a 1 0 series defeat to Sri Lanka.  By the way this is the first time in their history Sri Lanka have won a Test series in England.  Well done to them they are good team with one or two exceptional players. They are well coached and captained, well-disciplined and have a spinner in the side who supports their able spin attack.  They are currently everything England are not.

England were shit in this Test series and this last Test match as a result.  Again catches went down.  Again they lost their heads and ended up bowling short and wide when they lost their cool.  Broad and Jimmy looked knackered, again. Our top order batting lacks heart when times are tough. Most of England’s reviews were terrible and worst of all they allowed Anglo Matthews to win the game for Sri Lanka by just bowling shite to him on the 4th day.

Sri Lanka are a reasonably likeable side with Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene adding the star quality to their side.  Their quick bowlers work hard and maximise their ability. They are an able side – but it’s Sri Lanka for fucks sake.  It was hard enough watching the humiliation down under of the winter when Mitchell Johnson blew us away but to lose a home series in ideal English conditions is simply unacceptable.  You draw all the positives you like out of defeat but I’ve become accustomed to England not losing at home to Test match minnows for over a decade.

Our captain cannot buy a run – he is a walking wicket.  He is also one of the most gifted opening batsmen in the world.  I do not believe there is a current better candidate for the captaincy but if we could get our best batsman back then why not try out Ian Bell or even Stuart Broad?  He should at the very least drop the ODI captaincy to get his head right for Test cricket but the ECB backed him so much after the winter they won’t doing anything drastic.

If you read positives into defeat against Sri Lanka at home then frankly you’re accepting mediocrity.

Andy Flower noted that there would be hard days ahead when he stepped aside for his new role for Peter Moores.  Perhaps he knew more than we did and that we had to hit rock bottom before getting back to the top.  However his replacement has now lost both series he’s undertaken in his new job.  His deeply average record during his last stint as England coach (51 all out anyone?) did not bring him much good will coming into to a job many perceive him to have already failed at once.

Most worryingly England has gotten used to defeat.  If Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughn and even Nasser Hussain had been in charge it would have been a huge blow to lose a home Test series to anyone other than Australia and South Africa.  Alistair Cook and Peter Moores were pleased with the overall performance over both Tests. What message does that send?

England have become accustomed to losing.   In fact they have won only 9 matches in their last 33 played in all formats.  Some of the teams England have been defeated by include New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the Neterhlands.

I predicted a 1 1 draw in my series preview so I didn’t think it would be easy but Alistair Cook will have to at least draw the upcoming Test match series with India to have any chance of continuing in a job he seems uncomfortable doing at best, incompetent at the worst.

ALEX HURST

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One Response to true faith : BALL GAMES ALLOWED

  1. Guy HW says:

    I’m still stunned Moores was given the job after making a pigs ear the last time. We deserved to lose after throwing away a position of 270 odd-2 to 360 all out. You tend to lose matches when you do that!

    Strange we speak of a poor series when all 3 new batsman (Ballance after 2 caps) got 100s and Root got a 200 but when you lose the key battles and periods in a Test match you get punished.