0Sachithra Senanayake Mankades (try saying that after a few beers!)

Crick­et is a sport in which most fol­low­ers expect their her­oes to adhere to a high­er stand­ard of fair play and sportsmanship.
The recent incid­ent of ‘Mankad­ing’ (who on earth coined that phrase?) – when Sri Lanka’s Sachi­thra Sen­anayake ran out England’s Jos But­tler who had strayed out of his crease at the non-striker’s end at a key point in the final and decid­ing ODI in the series was dis­ap­point­ing to see and thank­fully remains very rare.
The last incid­ent I can remem­ber is when Kapil Dev ran out South Africa’s Peter Kirsten, appar­ently without warn­ing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzbFy_elb8k
Dif­fer­ing accounts of Tuesday’s shambles say Sen­anayake warned But­tler twice or just the once. Either way, it wasn’t crick­et. The bowl­er shouldn’t have done it and the cap­tain should have over-ruled the appeal. He didn’t, it happened so we are left to count the cost of a strain on the game.
What I don’t like, how­ever, is Eng­land using this unsa­voury con­tro­versy to shield yet anoth­er highly mixed per­form­ance dur­ing a ODI series.
Sri Lanka are a decent side – but without the wick­et tak­ing machine that was Mut­ti­ah Mur­a­lithar­an in the line-up and home advant­age you would have expec­ted Eng­land to win the series.

They didn’t and a lot of the blame for that must be laid on the bat­ting line up. The top order is too ped­es­tri­an and in-con­sist­ent. Cook, Bell, Bal­lance and Root are fine expo­nents of the longer game but don’t work well enough when the num­ber of overs are lim­ited. Mor­gan can be a fant­ast­ic play­er – on his day. Over­all a dynam­ism is some­what lack­ing. These days a score of 300 is merely par for the course rather than an excep­tion­al total. Eng­land rarely look able to get close enough to that total, let alone beat it. All of the top order are per­fectly cap­able of hit­ting a pretty 50 or so – but usu­ally at a rate of less than a run a ball. At least one of the order needs to be reg­u­larly reach­ing three fig­ures – and at a decent rate. They shouldn’t be rely­ing on But­ler and Chris Jordan to be the cata­lyst late on for a push to a half decent total. By the time they are usu­ally at the crease it is often too late.
But­tler needs mov­ing up the order with per­haps Alex Hales open­ing the bat­ting. Bopa­ra has to go – neither good enough with bat or con­sist­ent enough with the ball – Chris Jordan and, when he returns, Chris Broad can fill the all-round­er slots.
When York­shire signed fast bowl­er Liam Plun­kett I pre­sumed he was of an age where he had moved to the county for a final swan­song before retire­ment and media work. He seems to have been around for ages. He is only 29, how­ever, and still has many good years left in him. The move to the White Rose has clearly re-invig­or­ated his career and today’s Eng­land re-call is ample reward.
Any­one who thinks Andrew ‘Freddy’ Flintoff will struggle on his return to first-class crick­et for Lan­cashire should watch this incred­ible catch. It might take a few games for him to get back to full pelt but it’s clear he’s still got it. Good luck Fred (even if is first game back is against Yorkshire!)


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