England in a spin again

March 29, 2012

Since Muttiah Muralitheran retired two years ago, Sri Lanka doubled their win tally in Test cricket today. England have just been outplayed by what now is a very average Sri Lankan Test side in all conditions.

England’s bowlers yet again toiled hard in conditions that were damn right tough for bowling. The honest truth is that again England’s batsmen failed to deliver first innings runs on a pitch where they would have expected to have these Sri Lankan bowlers for breakfast.

Rangana Herath took 12 wickets in the match and was awarded the man of the match, and fair play to him. The left-arm spinner put the ball in the right areas and kept coming at England. However, as we have seen in county cricket, Herath is a steady first-class bowler who will do a decent job for a team. England, through some brainless batting have made a man from Mars who was looking at the scorecard think Herath was a world beater.

England approached their first innings batting with pre-determined thoughts on how they were going to play, with plans on sweeping, using their feet, and hitting over the top. I agree that game plans are a big part of playing high quality spin bowling, but if you let these thoughts take over the primary job of watching the ball, and playing it on its merits then danger is around the corner.

Despite a poor performance in the UAE, Pakistan strangled England, and dismissals came about because of this choking mechanism. It is at these times when game plans can really pay off for a batsman, with calculated risks in order to put pressure back on your opponent.

In Galle there was no issue for all England batsmen picking up runs freely. So in this case, surely the number one plan is to occupy the crease for a period of time, and the scoreboard takes care of the rest. Jonathan Trott in the second innings showed exactly how it must be done. England’s batsmen might want to to watch a DVD on how Graham Thorpe went about his business in the sub-continent. It may even be a nice break from playing FIFA every evening.

By no means is batting an easy skill in conditions that are foreign, but the real frustration for all England fans is that we know that these players are good enough. A team can survive with one or two players out of form, but when it’s the whole batting line up Test after Test, it just doesn’t work. Patience is started to wear thin in the England camp, if Jimmy Anderson’s facials are anything to go by.

Chris Murtagh 29/03/2012

One Comment to “England in a spin again”

  1. Donald
    March 29th, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

    Great blog Chris. Couldn’t agree more with your points on the way England went about playing the spinners.

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