Sri Lanka badly needs some sunshine, here in the island and also in England where its cricketers are playing against Alastair Cook’s team. The last thing which Sri Lanka, battling a natural catastrophe in the form of floods and landslides, wanted to see was its cricketers getting pummeled by host England in their favourite sport cricket. Sri Lanka got thrashed by an innings and 88 runs in the First Test at Headingley. The verdict by critics can be pretty harsh when it comes to why the islanders lost inside three days. But the loss also pops a vital question ‘why don’t its administrators prepare the players in conditions where the ball swings, lifts and travels at high speeds? The Sri Lankan batsmen facing the red cherry were akin to a child trying to control a kite caught in gusty winds.
There are already calls for Sri Lanka to emulate the brand of cricket they played in their tour of England in 1984. Spectators don’t want to witness a lopsided cricket series in England where Sri Lanka’s national team is doing duty right now. Mark Nicholas of ESPN Cricinfo has penned a piece recalling the feats of the ‘Lions’ in the summer of 1984 where the islanders won many admirers with the way they played against David Gower’s men. Critics have not written off Sri Lanka yet. The England team management has aired the view that Sri Lanka is a team which can improve with every game. Also don’t forget the fact that Sri Lanka did prove in the first Test that they have an attack that can bowl England out!
England crafted the win in the first Test with the efforts of just three men. Apart from Jonny Bairstow, Jimmy Anderson and Alex Hales, the others faired under par. Bairstow produced a defiant century to steady a crumbling innings after Sri Lankan bowlers tore into the host team batting in the first session on day one. Despite the win, England have aired the view that their batting is not cemented, as yet. Despite this memorable century, Bairstow is not certain of his place in the side as wicket-keeper batsman. There are views that he should play the role of specialist batsman and to bring in Joseph ‘Jos’ Buttler as the wicket keeper.
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews is a seasoned campaigner and carries enough knowledge of the game to put his team on track. The message must be sent to the batsmen that they should refrain from putting their bats out to every ball that moves away from the stumps. The Sri Lankan batsmen should also be decisive in picking the correct line.
The plucky Kusal Mendis justified selection to the side with a maiden half century in the Sri Lankan second innings where the visitors made 119. They were bowled out for 91 in the first innings after England made a commanding first innings score of 298. A fact that needs to be highlighted is that the Sri Lankan tail must start producing runs.
The Sri Lankans have to deal with the Anderson factor. Thirty-two-year old Jimmy Anderson ripped through Sri Lanka’s batting with a 10 wicket haul and is now rated as the third best bowler in the world. The only little blow to England is that fast bowler Ben Stokes is out for the second Test due to a knee injury. Sri Lanka flew back home its second cricketer, Dushmantha Chameera, after the paceman complained of back pain. The Sri Lanka tour party was joined by Kusal Janith Perera who replaces the injured Dhammika Prasad.
At the time of writing, it is unknown what type of pitch the host would prepare for the second Test at Durham. But one thing is sure. The Sri Lankans have to get accustomed to playing their cricket where the sun is absent.