Joe Root Vs Lasith Embuldeniya. That’s it, that’s the end of the series review….
Just Kidding, but boy it felt like Root vs Embuldeniya, didn’t it? At one point in the 2nd Test, Embuldeniya was hitting sixes and the golden arm of Joe Root was called upon to take his wicket and clean up the tail.
Yet, this short two-Test series had several other actors and memorable moments. The 2-0 score line may not have been close, but the contest was enthralling, nevertheless.
Broad’s initial burst, Bess’s uncanny wicket taking ability, Dan Lawrence’s dazzling debut, Niroshan Dickwella’s high-five face slap, Leach and Embuldeniya’s brilliance, Sibley and Thirimanne’s revival, Dickwella’s sledging, Bairstow and Buttler’s solidity, Mathews and Root’s centuries, Dickwella’s 92, and of course, Jimmy Anderson being well…Jimmy Anderson (in Asia).
Read till the end for my picks for the best moments, emerging players, lookout for the India Vs England series, and much more! COMMENT BELOW ON YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS.
*Note: Underlined & Bolded links are videos. Underlined without bold are links to other articles.
Results – England Vs Sri Lanka
Test Series: England Win 2 – 0
* Player of Match
|Player of Series||England|
2-100s, best of 228
|Most Runs||Joe Root – 426 runs (4 innings)||Angelo Mathews – 213 runs (4 innings)|
|Most Wickets||Dom Bess – 12 wickets (4 innings)||Lasith Embuldeniya – 15 wickets (4 innings)|
1. Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler: Critics Go Out The Window
Joe Root just does not like scoring 100s. Either 50s or daddy hundreds.
Do you all remember a few weeks ago in the India Vs Australia series, the commentators were discussing about the Big 3? That seems ages ago. In the preview article, I argued that
“Root is still a stellar player with an amazing record. The fact that England do not seem to need him as much as the other countries is a reflection of the strength of this English team, not the fall of a rising career. I hope he answers his critics with the bat.“
186, 228, 2/0, and 7 catches later, Joe Root has answered his critics in some style. He has gone from being criticized for his poor conversion-rate to becoming England’s #4 all time tally, surpassing Boycott, Pietersen, and Gower on the way (Suddenly, predictions of catching Tendulkar’s Test runs have opened since he is only 30).
2. The Rest of the Batting
- Crawley had a horrid tour with the bat (4 innings, 35 runs at 8.75), Sibley with 62 runs in his 4 (including a 56* in his last innings), and Sam Curran at 7 a spot too high (2 innings, 13 runs at 6.5).
- Bairstow (4 innings, 139 at 46.33) and Buttler (3 innings, 131 at 65.5) fared much better, while Dan Lawrence had little to show after his sparkling 73 on debut.
Bairstow at 3 again? Yes he is a good player of spin, but does he warrant a position in the squad? Several questions were asked pre-series.
With the struggles of Crawley and Sibley, Bairstow did a good repair job with 47 (93), 35* (65), 28 (73), 29 (28). A makeshift English #3 batsmen on foreign soil, successfully denting the new ball without converting it…Where I have I heard this before? Bairstow’s tour was so…Denly-esque.
3. Youth & Senior Pros Combine to Bamboozle Sri Lanka
- Stuart Broad (3/34 at 11.33) & James Anderson (6/46 at 7.66): No Sign of Aging
- Dom Bess (12/255 at 21.25) & Jack Leach (10/355 at 35.5): Here To Stay?
Stuart Broad’s resurgence in the past year or so has been heartening, and Anderson’s fitness just becomes better with age. Anderson’s home swing advantage has always clouded his greatness and longevity, but his 6/40 at Galle in the 2nd Test was as good as any.
Dom Bess himself admitted his bowling may not have deserved a 5-fer in the 1st Test. Maybe once or twice, you can call it a fluke but 5/30, 3/100, 4/49 along with a handy 32 with the bat shows he is willing to learn & improve his skills. Jack Leach’s numbers probably do not reflect his 110.5 overs worth of effort, but both of them are here to stay.
It is pretty clear that England are going to rotate Broad/Anderson, pick Mark Wood (tad unlucky this time around) for pace, and play both spinners for the upcoming India series (given Moeen Ali does not come back for Sam Curran).
1. Thirimanne & Angelo Matthews
Lahiru Thirimanne was our contender for the Broken Dream in our preview. Just look at his stats:
- Average of 22.68 after 36 Tests, 1 century after a decade on the international scene
He came back with a solid 111 and 43 in this series, and has ‘extended’ his place in the side. Will take a few more consistent performances to cement his place. I was also looking forward to a Chandimal-Thirimanne-Mathews solid middle order foundation. Chandimal had a Bairstow-like with a 52 and a couple of 20s, while Mathews was Sri Lanka’s most run-getter including a hard-fought 71 and 110.
- 88 Tests, 6194 runs at 45.54, with 11 100s, best of 200* – Mathews is slowly approaching Sri Lanka’s Legend Status.
2. Inconsistency Kills The Cat
- Mathews – 213, Thirimanne 171, Dickwella 140, Chandimal 109, Kusal Perera 102
- (SL Vs SA): 396 & 180, 157 & 211, (SL vs Eng): 381 & 126, 135 & 359
Notice a pattern yet? For England, Root scored a mammoth 426 with Bairstow-Buttler scoring 139 & 131 runs respectively. Sri Lanka had 5 scorers over 100 & Mathews/Thirimanne did convert, but there were just not enough match winning partnerships. Partnerships are the key to success. As we can see from the beginning of the South Africa tour, Sri Lanka have scored 350+ 3/8 times, but they have also collapsed 4/8 times.
Sri Lanka were not bad, but inconsistency in the other innings killed any chance they had.
Here is Kumar Sangakkara’s reflection of Sri Lanka’s batting meltdowns.
- 4 innings, 119 overs, 15/415 at 27.66, best of 7/37, 1 5-fer, 1 10-fer
The reason why batting inconsistency hurt more this time around is because with Lasith Embuldeniya, Sri Lanka actually believed they could win.
In the first match, chasing a mere 74, England were down 14/3. Embuldeniya made it look like a landmine, but just there were just not enough runs on the board. He bowled tireless spells, opened the bowling, and even hit an aggressive 40 (37) in the 2nd Test to take the score from 78-8 to 126.
The name, the action, the wicket taking ability – have Sri Lanka finally found someone to carry the legacy of Muralitharan and Rangana Herath? Only time will tell.
Marks Out of 10: The Mendis Factor
(Not really. Let’s have some fun!)
- 4 – Ducks in a Row for Kusal Mendis (including SA series). His replacement, Ramesh Mendis, carried on the tradition and opened his account with a duck as well.
- 6 – Wins In a row for England in Sri Lanka. Huge accomplishment – Kudos! It is never easy to tour Sri Lanka at home and consistent results bode well. Oh yes. And England won without the likes of Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, and opener Rory Burns.
- 8 – Short of a maiden hundred for Niroshan Dickwella. So close, yet so far.
- 13 – Wickets Away from Anil Kumble’s 619 for the 3rd highest wicket-taker EVER for Jimmy Anderson. GOAT.
We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:
|Emerging Player||Lasith Embuldeniya||Joe Root’s Super Conversion Rate & Dan Lawrence|
|Surprise Package||Embuldeniya (Batting/Bowling/Everything) & Dickwella’s sledging||Dom Bess’s 5-for & wicket-taking ability|
|Broken Cricket Dream||Kusal Mendis||Zak Crawley|
Who would have been your Emerging Player? Surprise Player? Broken Cricket Dream? Let us know below WITH COMMENTS! Also please share and subscribe below!
Where Do They Go From Here?
Sri Lanka’s 2021 outlook looks filled. They will complete some of the WTC matches that were cancelled in 2020. They will host/tour Bangladesh, go to West Indies, & host Ireland for a Test match as well. Second part of the year will be focused on the T20I World Cup.
Busy Year for England this. 17 Test Matches on the cards (Maybe more if they qualify for World Test Championship Final). Next Up – India. 4 Tests, 5 ODIs, 3 T20Is from February 4th to March 27th (Add IPL, the Hundred, & World T20 World Cup in the mix as well). The series is key to the WTC finals. England currently at 4th but slowly inching up (Just 3% separates #4 England from #1 India).
Several questions on England vs India TV rights and squad selections as well. Bairstow, Curran, Wood rested for the first couple of Test matches, while Buttler flies home after the 1st one.
With India surprising expectations in Australia, will we see a similar triumph for England against favorites India?
Where do Sri Lankan cricket go from here? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
Copyright (2021: 1/13/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – firstname.lastname@example.org