England vs Sri Lanka: Ranking England's Test Performances
Now that the dust has settled on the horribly weather affected Test series between England and Sri Lanka, it's time to look at the individuals and how they performed.
England won the series 1-0, and were no doubt prevented from extending their lead after the Lankan's unceremonious collapse at Cardiff due to the English summer rain, and with that in mind, we'll start with the winning team...
Good performances were vital for England as they prepare to welcome the No. 1 ranked Test side, India, later in the summer, an especially vital series as England look to take that ranking for themselves.
Later in the week, I will be looking at the Sri Lankans and how they performed.
Andrew Strauss (c)
Not a series to remember for the England skipper.
Averaging just 6.75 across his four innings, a figure beaten only by tail-ender Graeme Swann's 4.00, a figure that looks even smaller considering everyone else in the top 8 managed to knock a half century at some stage, does not an opening batsmen make.
Added onto this, a left arm seam weakness seems (ho-ho!) to of been exposed, with weak dismissals to Lankan leftie Chanaka Welegedara in two of his innings when overhead and pitch conditions were conducive to batting will have Indian strike bowler Zaheer Khan licking his lips in anticipation for later in the summer.
Furthermore, his skills as captain have been under the microscope as England twice failed to capitalize on promising positions in the 2nd and 3rd matches.
England's hero from the recent Ashes campaign cemented his transformation from nervy opener to near-unstoppable run machine by once again topping the run charts with 390 scored at 97.50.
'Cookie' has now managed seven consecutive Test half-centuries, a record equalling feat, and now demonstrating much sounder technique outside off stump, he will be a major factor in the series against India.
However, he was rightly criticized for the pacing of his innings at Lord's when quick runs were the order of the day, and the new ODI captain's strike rate will be under close scrutiny for the upcoming one dayers.
Like Cook before, Trott's reputation as a run scorer suffered no damage at the hands of the Sri Lankan attack.
Whilst he scored the bulk of his 267 runs in his gargantuan knock of 203 at Cardiff, and he will be disappointed at the manner of his cheap dismissals in the matches that followed, he still a formidable opponent.
We were even privy to a collector's item as Trott picked up the wicket of Lankan opener Paranavitana at Lord's with medium pace.
KP came into the series under intense pressure as his well documented problems with left arm spin made headlines and in Cardiff he did little to dispel them after getting out playing a ridiculous shot to apparent nemesis Rangana Herath.
He came back, however, with knocks of 72 and 85 at Lord's and the Rose Bowl, and looked close to his imperious best, reeling out the glorious leg side flicks and cover drives that once made him one of the world's most feared batsmen. India best watch out.
Ian Bell's transformation from Shane Warne's 'Sherminator' to 'Terminator' has no doubt been a pleasure for the English cricket fan.
Bell came second to Cook in the run scoring charts with 331, with an average of....331. Bell's only dismissal in the series came at Lord's where he was critical in the rebuilding of an innings that was close to disaster at 22-3, where a gritty 52 was perfectly complimented by a swashbuckling 57 off 43 balls as England looked for a quick declaration.
Morgan's importance in the series appears to of been lost in the shuffle as his team mate's feasted on runs but the Irishmen twice forged key partnerships with Ian Bell and Matt Prior to play the supporting role as they went on to secure centuries.
His unorthodox batting technique thrilled when he got in, and a series average of 56 is not to be sniffed at, but he still looks vulnerable early in his innings to the delivery in the 'corridor of uncertainty.' (TM Boycott)
Unfortunately for the England stumper, Prior's series will be largely remembered for 'Glovegate' where he smashed a window (officially by accident) which sent shards of broken glass on to the members at Lord's.
This will no doubt overshadow his wonderful, innings-saving 126 off just 131 deliveries in the same match, though his other performances with the willow he would rather leave forgotten.
Behind the stumps, Prior was largely flawless as everything stuck and the few byes conceded were largely down to some of the leg side filth Stuart Broad and Swann coughed up.
Broad's series was one of frustration, as the Notts man seemingly couldn't buy a wicket. The problem is, Broad is not one to keep a cool head and his temperament let him down as all too often he lost his line and length.
After being asked to open the attack at Lord's due to the injury to James Anderson, he was only able to return figures of 1-125, and an average of nearly 90 saw him lose new ball duties to Chris Tremlett in the final innings at the Rose Bowl.
His place in the side will be the most under pressure when India arrive, such is the seemingly unending wealth of English seam options at the moment.
Despite the unfriendly conditions, Swann was able to return as second highest wicket taker in the series.
Instrumental in Sri Lanka's dramatic collapse at Cardiff where he took 4-16 in just seven overs, Swann's usefulness waned over the rest of the series but his economy rate remained as low as ever.
Concerns will be raised as the seasoned Sri Lankan batsmen seamed at ease with his bowling, something the spin veterans of India will of noticed.
If the Ashes had reignited Tremlett's England career, this series has cemented him on the team sheet.
'Tremors' returned as the series' leading wicket taker with 15 at 23.40 and was also the only bowler to get a 5-fer, the scintillating performance during the Lankan's first innings at the Rose Bowl where he returned 6-48, his best Test figures and only four runs off his previous First Class best.
Tremlett was a constant menace with his sharp, steeping bounce troubling batsmen all the way down the order, his hostility was not becoming of a man know as the 'Gentle Giant' as many a Sri Lankan wore once of his vicious short deliveries.
On top of this, he demonstrated an ability to move the ball when pitching it up. Will be a huge player against India. No pun intended.
Rating: 9/10 - PLAYER OF THE SERIES
Anderson was perhaps most noticeable for his absence, where injury kept him out of the match at Lord's, and England struggled to take wickets, especially with the new ball in helpful conditions.
Anderson's ability with the new ball, and the skill he has developed in making the ball move both ways prodigiously can be seen when, taking the three innings he bowled, he took 5 of the 9 wickets Sri Lanka's top three offered.
England will hope he manages to maintain his fitness for India, and this could see him rested for County matches, perhaps even the ODI series against the Lankans.
Recruited in the absence of Anderson, Finn once again proved himself as a natural wicket-taker, but once that's going to go for runs.
Finn returned figures of 4/139 for the one match he was involved in at Lord's, and will need to tighten up if he is to be in the frame for selection when the likes of Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan return to full fitness.
Still, at 21 he is a huge prospect for the future.
In conclusion, a good series overall for England.
Apart from Strauss, the batsmen all enjoyed a good run of scores, and the return of KP will come as a huge bonus to Andy Flower's side, while the continued good form of Cook, Trott and Bell will be key given the nature of their illustrious opponents later in the summer.
The bowling attack suffered most at the hands of the English weather, and the form of Stuart Broad will be a concern for many as will his constant on-field petulance.
All in all, England would of preferred a more thorough work-out before the arrival of India in July. However, a series victory cements them as firm favourites for that series on home soil, especially with India having a bad start to their series in the West Indies, albeit an understrength side.
Stay tuned for the Sri Lankan's ratings later in the week....