Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 November

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Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 November

Postby bigfluffylemon » Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:01 am

And so with alarming celerity, the second test of the series rolls around, with England in the in-recent-times unprecedented position of being 1-0 up after the first test of an overseas series.

For the away side, there was much to celebrate about their win in the first test. Their first-ever win in Galle. Their first away win in 16 tests and over 2 years, and their first in Asia for 6 years (not counting Bangladesh). Their first away win under Joe Root's captaincy. Back-to-back test victories. A win without Alastair Cook in the side, showing that there is hope beyond the loss of such an important player.

Of course, all this will mean little if they can't back this up with further success in at least one of the two remaining matches. While this Sri Lankan side is not nearly as strong as some of the teams of the past, they have a formidable record at home - only India and Pakistan have been able to get the better of them on their home soil in the past seven years. Non-subcontinental teams visiting have generally been subjected to trial-by-spin, and been thrashed as a result.

For England, the selection questions are many, despite victory. Should Johnny Bairstow come back into the side, and if so, where does he fit? Ditto for Stuart Broad. Can you possibly drop Ben Foakes after such an assured debut? Should Moeen Ali continue to bat at three? (no). If he doesn't, who does? (beats me). In all likelihood, England will go in with the same side, especially if the pitch looks to take turn - there won't be room to drop a spinner to fit anyone else in.

The pitch in Galle was nothing like the raging turners we've seen in the past, so will Sri Lanka prepare one in Kandy in an attempt to level the series? This is complicated not only by the retirement of the admirable Herath, but by the fact that Akila Dananjaya has been reported for a suspect bowling action, and is likely to be dropped. Add in England's variety in spin attack, which will be operating with a newfound confidence after the last game, and a poorly performing Sri Lanka batting line-up weakened even further by the loss of Dinesh Chandimal, and preparing a pitch that turns too much could result in a match decided literally by the toss of a coin.

England have the chance for an away win in Asia, a rare thing indeed. Can they sustain the performance against a weakened and demoralised Sri Lanka, or will the hosts return to home form and spin their way through England's own none-to-reliable batting line-up? Let's find out.
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby bigfluffylemon » Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:49 am

That should be 13 tests, not 16.

Still a lot though.
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby bigfluffylemon » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:19 am

I looked it up, and only three times in the last decade have England been 1-0 up after the first test of an away series, and two of those were the two tours to Bangladesh (the only other one was the tour to South Africa in 15/16).

Not a common occurrence.
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:54 am

Maybe Stokes will move up to three. It might not be a long term solution as he will bowl a lot more in series outside Asia.

He's not really excelling at six currently though...
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:15 pm

Just read (Tin de Lisle in the Guardian) that over the last three years, England's number seven is their best batting position, averaging 47, with seven tons. More hundreds than Cook's partner, numbers three and five have between them!
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby andy » Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:34 pm

Word now is that Buttler will bat 3....put a batsman at 3! Use Denly that's what he is there for!
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby sussexpob » Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:39 pm

Arthur Crabtree wrote:Just read (Tin de Lisle in the Guardian) that over the last three years, England's number seven is their best batting position, averaging 47, with seven tons. More hundreds than Cook's partner, numbers three and five have between them!


The trend continues with a number of batsman, and also shows high SR's for a lot of batsman. With the aggression apparent in the stats, may it just be that specialist bats at 7 being exposed to older ball and more wore down bowlers, tend to fair better than their aggressive top order counter parts playing the same way ?? (which England have tended to favour, Cook aside, who's failures seemed more to do with a prolonged decline than tactical). Certainly seems a trend over different people/sample and a good indicator of time. Could also be the wearing down of bowlers confronted with a large tail..... bowling at batters with FC hundreds down to 10 can be tiring for a long innings, and as they drop off the lower order cash in?

I always thought as a bit of a barmy idea on the game, that if I were a coach who had a 11 and 10 who could be trained to block, duck or sway their way through 10 overs, Id play tailenders as my 1-3. Youd end up 10-3 every test, but maybe the value saved in your best batters facing better conditions would make up for it. Wonder if anyone tried it.

Id certainly be thinking about moving Root to 7 now
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby Durhamfootman » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:08 pm

andy wrote:Word now is that Buttler will bat 3....put a batsman at 3! Use Denly that's what he is there for!

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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby bigfluffylemon » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:06 pm

England haven't had a hundred from number 3 for two years, and until last week hadn't had a hundred from an opener not named Cook for two years as well.
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:42 pm

andy wrote:Word now is that Buttler will bat 3....put a batsman at 3! Use Denly that's what he is there for!


Sudden change in role for JB2 from when he was recalled!
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby bigfluffylemon » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:35 pm

Arthur Crabtree wrote:
andy wrote:Word now is that Buttler will bat 3....put a batsman at 3! Use Denly that's what he is there for!


Sudden change in role for JB2 from when he was recalled!


Well, we've tried every other round peg for the square hole that is number 3, why not Jos?

I guess he might come off in the subcontinent. It seems to me that England are in a holding pattern with the batting line-up and praying that someone comes forward next summer...
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby Gingerfinch » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:26 am

andy wrote:Word now is that Buttler will bat 3....put a batsman at 3! Use Denly that's what he is there for!


Buttler, rightly or wrongly is in the team as a batsman.
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby sussexpob » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:28 am

bigfluffylemon wrote:
Arthur Crabtree wrote:
andy wrote:Word now is that Buttler will bat 3....put a batsman at 3! Use Denly that's what he is there for!


Sudden change in role for JB2 from when he was recalled!


Well, we've tried every other round peg for the square hole that is number 3, why not Jos?


While England are in a position where they cant really break the top order anymore than it has been broken for a while, the common thread with all these batsman in the team is that, the lower down they have generally gone, the better they have all performed. There is also a pretty established link with many of them to their peak performance coming in more aggressive play.

Take Joe Root, at 1-3 he strikes at 49. He averages considerably lower in these slots. At 4-5, he strikes above 60, and averages 50 and 71 in 4-5 respectively. Moeen Ali has batted everywhere, but its a similar story. When confronted with batting in the top order, the SRs are lower, the average plummets. Lower down the middle order, his average peaks at 40, and the SR becomes more aggressive. Stokes has only really worked at 6. Bairstow only works at 6-7. I think again (without looking in a while) both would show heavier firepower on average in these slots.

The higher in the order you go, the more likely you have to apply patience to your batting. The ball is going to move more, the bowlers have a bit more freshness and zip. When confronted with these situations, our aggressive players have not displayed great techniques to stay in long enough to play the types of innings you want at the top.

A brilliant example would be in the tests in the summer, when England moved everyone up at the Rose Bowl. Jennings went for a duck. Root came in with the ball moving a bit probably in the first 1-2 overs, he was out to a no ball straight away which India had reviewed, he was out about 2 balls later but India didnt review it after losing one, and then scored a couple of runs before he was finally given lbw. Bairstow came in and couldnt lay a bat on anything, and went for hardly anything. Ben Stokes at 5 and edged about 10 balls just short of fielders before heading back.

None of these batters seems capable of defending their wickets for long against a good new ball attack making the ball move. They all, to a man, have to seize the initiative by playing strokes hard, and setting the tempo. Even Root never really looks that good in defending, he only ever looks in fine touch when he's stroke making around the ground.

So yeah, you can try any of them at 3, but not sure why any shout one drop at you. They will either scrappy defend and probably run into trouble, or will try to hit themselves out of it, none of which scream long term tactical sense.

One drop is a specialist position. Its where you want, imo, the guy in your team who can bat the longest. The best technique and the best proven ability to turn starts into match winning scores. Annoyingly, Root just doesnt fit the mould, as he wants to play too many shots, but neither really does anyone else.
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby bigfluffylemon » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:48 am

I couldn't agree more.

Hopefully the cc will throw up a specialist for fill that position some time in the next few years.

Number 3 has been tricky for England for a while now. Apart from when Trott was in possession (and it's no coincidence we won a lot of games when we had a solid 3 coming in behind two reliable openers) we haven't had a natural 3 for ages. We've either been playing openers there (Vaughan, for example), or players who had the same sort of issues as the current lot (great at 5/6, shite at first drop). Ian Bell, for example. Or just rubbish players (anyone remember when it was Ravi Bopara at 3 at the start of the summer that Trott concluded at 3?)
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Re: Second test: Sri Lanka v England in Kandy, 14-18 Novembe

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:57 am

I wonder if the transformation of Bairstow is a sign of the times. He showed evidence of becoming a Test middle order bat tightening up a multitude of weaknesses, but then ripped it all up to become a limited overs player who will attract the attention of league franchises. I know there are different ways of looking at that, but if this is what every U19 bat sees as his future, then maybe England won't find top order batters, just one dimensional lower middle order stroke players.
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