So the first test of the summer is at an end. Well done England for a victory for what was really a match of men against boys.
Sri Lanka are, to use that oft touted sound-bite, a team in “transition” and boy did it show. It must be remembered, however, that they kept a strong England batting line up to a tad under the 300 mark – and half of those runs came from the excellent Jonny Bairstow. Alex Hales did well too with a decent knock and must be kicking himself he didn’t convert it into a ton. Had it not been for those two it might have been a closer run thing. We will never know.
For as soon as Anderson and Broad got the red leather bullet in their hands the writing was on the webpage. Sri Lanka didn’t stand a chance. And who’d have guessed that the two quicks swapping ends could bring about such instant results! (Note sarcasm – surely they must have thought about trying such ‘black magic’ previously!!)
But there’s a wider point here – a world XI would have struggled on that pitch, in those conditions, against those two bowlers. There’s a strong argument that says there’s never been a better pairing than Broad and Anderson when things are in there favour. The game was never going to last more than three days – and that’s what annoys me as a fan of cricket. I’ve missed out on two days of the best sport in the world. My TV recording box which is set to record the highlights on series link has instead been infested with day-time TV rubbish.
If I’m a little peeved then what about the bean counters at Headingley? Two days where, instead of thousands of pints of Black Sheep bitter being consumed by raucous fans hiding a beer snake from the ever struggling stewards, the seats are empty. (Did anyone see the first snake of the summer by the way? It was an absolute beauty). No pasties or over-priced burgers are getting eaten either. And Boycott Bingo is but a distant memory. It costs a lot to get a ground to test-match standard and to keep it there – money that needs to be recouped. Three days isn’t going to help the bank balance much!
And it’s not just the money-men and women who are left a few quid out of pocket. The fans suffer too. Ok those who had tickets for day four and five do get a refund but most people will have taken the day off work, some will have booked hotels or made other financial commitments. All well and good if you got a day’s cricket to watch – but no one wants to stay in Leeds unless they have good reason to.
Might it not be a better idea to prepare a pitch that offers a bit for everyone? A decent batting track where if you put your head down and show a good technique you will score runs but something to interest the bowler too? What are the headlines from this match? Broad and Anderson can bowl bloody well – no sh*t Sherlock. No one wants England to become like India of old – brilliant home, shocking away – but if the boys continue to have a surface like Headingley then that’s the risk we run.
I was gutted to hear about the passing of the great TMS commentator, Winston Anthony Lloyd “Tony” Cozier. His Barbadian lilt kept me entertained many a time and he will be sorely missed – a true gent on and off the pitch. Cheerio Tony, thanks for the ride.
Well done Chris Woakes on taking a 9-fer to mark getting called up to the England side. I’m still to be convinced that he can quite hack it at the highest level and as suggested above even a bag full of scalps against Sri Lanka will sway me very little. It also highlights a weakness in the balance of the England side if Ben Stokes is unavailable. But best of British to Mr Woakes – a good performance can only strengthen his case.
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