England v Sri Lanka: Four talking points from day two
England v Sri Lanka: Four talking points
Sri Lankan bodyline
After Joe Root and Matt Prior’s partnership rescued what flirted to be a disappointing opening first 90 overs for England at Lord’s, Sri Lanka needed quick wickets during the first hour on day two. It may not have quite been Harold Larwood, but Shaminda Eranga and Nuwan Pradeep bowled hard, fast and at the body evoking memories of bodyline. Their efforts to unsettle the England pair perhaps inspired by Mitchell Johnson’s success with the short ball against the same opposition last winter. The tourists conceded just 15 runs from the opening seven overs of the morning session and the tactic soon brought them their opening when Prior fended at a sharp delivery from Eranga, popping the catch up to short leg. To see a clear plan in action, executed well and with discipline while getting the desired result remains a favoured site in all sport.
At the same ground last summer Root struck what was billed as the catalyst of his Test match career. Unfortunately the reality that followed was a far cry from the promise of his stylish and inventive innings. In his next 14 innings, he managed to pass 50 just twice, batting in the top three apart from the test in Brisbane and predominantly facing the new ball. Root has looked at home and been a key cog in the one-day side, batting busily in the middle order facing the older ball and dealing with the spinners. The young Yorkshire man scored his first test match hundred batting at five and following his unbeaten 200 now averages 104 batting in this slot, his lowest score 26. Perhaps now instead of a run at the top of the order, he will be given the chance to build the foundations of his Test match future in England’s middle order.
The wagging tail
England’s Graeme Swann hangover could be as painful as it will be long with no obvious candidate to the high calibre spinner. Swann however offered a little something also with the bat down the order, a more than capable batsman with a good eye for finding the boundary and frustrating bowling attacks with one eye on returning to the pavilion. Chris Jordan showed his ability with the blade in the recent one day series. Although his 19 runs in England’s first innings look underwhelming on paper, with three powerful boundaries in his innings, he showed strong glimpses that he will be more than capable of not only matching but improving Swann’s contributions with the bat down the order.
What followed from Stuart Broad and later Liam Plunkett showed the batting prowess that this England side has, and after it failed to wag down under, it will be hoped it can return to providing more contributions with the bat in the future.
Following England’s mammoth first innings score, it was imperative that the visitors began strongly and the opening partnership of Frank Karunaratne and Jayan Silva did exactly that. Their opening stand of 54 could prove crucial to Sri Lanka building a fight against England’s push to win this Test match, protecting their middle order from the new ball and lowering the pressure on their powerhouses Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. In showing some fight against England’s attack, some of the onus on Sri Lanka’s famous pairing has been lifted. Both will no doubt be crucial to Sri Lanka batting their way to first avoid the follow on and with Sangakkara’s poor record at Lord’s, it looked as if he enjoyed a less pressured visit to the crease on day two. Jayawardene averages 75 at Lords’ with two hundreds to his name and as ever the key for England will be to remove both cheaply.