Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Second Test

The second test between England and Sri Lanka ended the other day, petering out into a draw. I thought I'd quickly review some points that occurred to me as I was watching.

First, congratulations to Alistair Cook, whose run of good form continues. 96 in the first innings and then a century in the second means that he's a run machine at the moment. Also well done to Dilshan, who got rather more runs rather more quickly in Sri Lanka's first go.

The thing is though, quite a few of the top order for both teams seem to be getting runs in this series, while the bowling attacks have, with the exception of that last day crash for Sri Lanka at Cardiff, struggled. Are English pitches getting that flat, or is there another reason?

There do seem to be cracks in the England bowling attack. Well, not cracks exactly. More a general lack of something extra. We have probably the world's best orthodox off spinner in Graham Swann, but our obsession with tall fast bowlers mean that we had three bowlers in the last test who all bowl the same thing. Namely mid eighties straight up and down bouncy stuff that isn't that accurate or relentless. I wouldn't want to play it, but I suspect people who know what they're doing would.

James Anderson, when fit, brings far more movement to the attack, which is essential for getting out good batsmen, but I'm increasingly worried by the lack of searing pace amongst English bowlers. Stuart Broad looked like he might make a ninety mile an hour plus bowler when he started, but since seems to have scaled his ambitions back, and there seems to be no one in county cricket likely to fill that pace void.

I suspect the workload might be the problem. After all, Australia's quickest bowling attack (Lee, Nannes and Tait) only plays in T20 stuff, while Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga has also retired from tests, specifically citing the amount of bowling required. The only bowlers who seem to survive are those who bowl within themselves.

What does this mean for the Rose Bowl? I'm not sure. In theory, it spins, so Swanny might do some damage. The trouble is, spinning grounds also tend to be a bit slow, so maybe there are more monster scores to come.

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