Sri Lanka close on 133-2 (Paranavitana 58*, Dilshan 50)
I’ll also be posting stuff here, so here’s the blog I did for Spin on Stuart Broad.
England in May – that famously successful month for the bang-it-in bowler. In hindsight, that England have picked two of them for this Test match, and indeed a third in their 12, looks an oversight.
They’ve got previous. As impressive as England were in Australia, there were times when sentiment clouded their selection. Adelaide stands out – Ajmal Shahzad abandoned after Steven Finn’s wickets in Brisbane. Finn’s figures had been flattering in Brissy, they were again in Adelaide, and while England won, it may have been more comfortable with skiddy Shahzad.
On early evidence in this game the beneficiary has been Stuart Broad, with Shahzad and Graham Onions right to feel aggrieved. Broad hasn’t played much cricket, and it has showed – the pace is there, but not quite the line or the length, too wide and too short. Flip his pitch map vertically and it would probably look about right for the situation – a slowish pitch with moisture and batsmen not totally used to the conditions (whatever double-century stands in both warm up games might suggest). His was a selection that makes sense in the scheme of the summer, but maybe not for England’s attempts to win this match.
However much cricket he’s played, Broad hasn’t helped himself. Yes it’s windy, yes it’s damp, and yes Dilshan pounced on anything drivable. But if you don’t ask you don’t get, and Broad’s short-pitched stuff has been like the teenager who turns up to the school-disco in Black Tie and then gets aggressively smashed in the corner by himself. He seems stuck in a short-pitched groove, but this is the SWALEC, not the SSC.
It’s had an effect on the others too – a wayward first spell necessitating a change of ends, which meant Strauss also had to switch Jimmy Anderson. Anderson, whose excellent first spell of 7-2-7-0 hadn’t yielded a single boundary, splurged three from his three overs from the Cathedral Road end.
If Broad is to convince as a Test bowler of genuine wicket-taking, match-winning consistency, he must adapt quicker – for a ‘thinking’ bowler has shown a lack of nous today. He could do worse than look at Chris Tremlett for how a tall bowler should operate in these conditions. Every short ball Tremlett has bowled has served a purpose – a softener to make the footwork more uncertain against the fuller stuff.
Still, it’s day one of 35 – plenty of cricket left to oil those rusty joints.
Sam Collins is 50% of The Chuck Fleetwood-Smiths