English cricket needed a pick-me-up but the job is not done yet so don’t get carried away
It was good to see England rattling along at almost 4.5 an over, especially after the traumas of the winter.
And it was great to see a batsman go on and turn a start into a double-hundred.
I also enjoyed the way the lower order got stuck into Sri Lanka’s bowlers after they were repeatedly blown away by Australia’s seamers Down Under.
But let’s not get carried away.
The job is only half done. Let’s not get carried away before Sri Lanka step up to bat on a flat pitch
I don’t mean to sound like a party-pooper, because English cricket needs a pick-me-up. But this Lord’s pitch is very flat, the outfield is fast, and Sri Lanka’s bowling attack lacks any real firepower. It’s a good start — and no more than that.
The challenge for Peter Moores and Alastair Cook is to strike the right balance between learning from the past, winning in the here and now, and preparing for the future.
It was important after what happened in Australia — allowing Shane Watson to bowl maidens while Mitchell Johnson was resting, or letting Nathan Lyon get away with two an over — for England’s batsmen to stop digging a hole for themselves.
On the first two days here, they did not make the same mistake. But the task now is for them to be able to repeat the trick when the bar is raised.
English cricket needed a pick-me-up from the likes of Chris Jordan but this is a good start – and no more
That said, I really liked the tempo of their innings, especially from Joe Root. People talk about an exciting new brand of cricket, but that doesn’t mean the batsmen have to blast it to all corners.
What Root did very well was keep the scoreboard ticking over. He managed 73 singles and 19 twos.
At one point, he only hit one four in an entire session. But the others batted round him superbly. It just shows that you don’t necessarily need to bat like David Warner to put the opposition under pressure.
As I’ve said before, the batsman England miss most is Jonathan Trott, someone to provide the glue and wear the bowlers down while the others make hay. Root fulfilled that role to perfection.
England’s tempo was pleasing, especially from Joe Root. He kept the scoreboard ticking over
I thought Sri Lanka’s bowling lacked a bit of imagination, which is not something you can often accuse them of. Their plans to bowl short worked for a while, and got rid of Matt Prior and Chris Jordan, but once Stuart Broad came in they looked spent.
I can see why they tried to unsettle him, because he’s had his problems with the short ball in the past.
But they needed to get it up around Broad’s neck, not just his midriff.
My hope is that England get tested by Sri Lanka over five days, and from what we’ve seen so far from their reply, it looks likely to be the case.
I want to see how the captain responds on a flat surface, and whether Jordan and Liam Plunkett have got what it takes to keep hassling top-class batsmen on a flat surface.
This has been a decent start to the new era. Now they need to keep it up.
This has been a decent start to the new era of England. Now they just need to keep it up.