Sri Lanka in England, 2011 June 21, 2011

England's dominance masked by rain

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
In a rain-marred series in which England's all-round strength was on show, the lack of potency in Sri Lanka's bowling attack was also exposed

England ahead by a distance
In a heavily rain-affected series, England's eventual victory margin of 1-0 does not quite do justice to their domination. After the first innings of the first Test in Cardiff where Sri Lanka made 400, England bossed the contest, scoring at a quick pace, and held the initiative throughout the three-Test series. Sri Lanka, aided by the inclement weather, fought hard and managed to draw two Tests at Lord's and the Rose Bowl, but were undone by an extraordinary collapse in the second innings in Cardiff. Faced with a deficit of just 96 runs, Sri Lanka lost five wickets for just ten runs in the middle of the innings and went down by an innings. Perhaps the most telling stat from the series is that Sri Lanka managed to bowl England out only once in the three Tests, but were themselves bowled out four times including twice for less than 200.

Although both teams scored approximately the same number of runs, England lost 18 fewer wickets, and averaged nearly 23 runs per wicket more than Sri Lanka. England's scoring rate was also very impressive, as they maintained a rate of nearly four runs per over across all their innings. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, could not quite wrest control, and scored at 3.30 runs per over. England batsmen scored six centuries with three coming in the Cardiff win. Kumar Sangakkara's 119 in the final Test, which helped secure a draw, was one of three centuries scored by Sri Lanka players in the series.

England and Sri Lanka in the three-Test series
Team Won Total runs Wickets lost Runs per wicket RR 100/50
England 1 1694 30 56.46 3.86 6/10
Sri Lanka 0 1606 48 33.45 3.30 3/5

Sri Lanka's toothless attack
It was anticipated that the Sri Lankan attack, without record wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan, would struggle in England. The result was exactly as expected: the bowlers were inconsistent and made life easy for England's batsmen with some wayward bowling. Apart from Chanaka Welegedara, who bowled with some purpose, the rest of the bowling lacked the ability to trouble a powerful England batting line-up. Suranga Lakmal and Rangana Herath picked up seven and six wickets respectively, but the wickets came at strike rates of 75.7 and 95.8. Lakmal and Welegedara both had high economy-rates (4.10 and 4.22 respectively), which further compounded Sri Lanka's problems.

England's bowlers were far more incisive and probing than their Sri Lankan counterparts. Chris Tremlett was the pick of the bowlers, with 15 wickets at an average of just over 23 and a strike rate of 46.4. He started the slide in Sri Lanka's second innings in Cardiff and followed it up with his best Test figures: 6 for 48 in the first innings of the third Test. Graeme Swann, the most successful spinner in Tests since 2009, continued to impress, taking 12 wickets at 23.58. Stuart Broad was disappointing with his eight wickets coming at a very high average (48.75) and strike rate (89.2). A clear indication of England's bowling strength is the fact that they have been able to bowl opposition teams out for less than 200 on 13 occasions since the start of 2009, including five scores below 100. In contrast, England themselves have only six scores below 200 in the same period.

Stats of England and Sri Lankan bowlers
Bowler Wickets Average Economy Strike rate
Chris Tremlett 15 23.40 3.02 46.4
Graeme Swann 12 23.58 2.73 51.6
Stuart Broad 8 48.75 3.27 89.2
James Anderson 7 29.00 2.50 69.4
Suranga Lakmal 7 51.85 4.10 75.7
Chanaka Welegedara 7 37.42 4.22 53.1
Rangana Herath 6 49.83 3.12 95.8

Middle-order woes for visitors
In a series dominated by England, the partnership stats are a clear reflection of the difference in performance of the two teams. Apart from the first two wickets, England were clearly the better side when it came to partnerships. Surprisingly, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, England's most-prolific opening pair in Tests, had a poor run. They aggregated only 55 runs with a highest partnership of 46. While Cook was the highest run-getter in the series, it was Strauss who never got going. He scored just 27 runs in four innings with a highest score of 20. Jonathan Trott and Cook were involved in two century stands, including 251 for the third wicket in the first Test. However, the middle-order partnerships were dominated by Ian Bell, who scored 331 runs in four innings while being dismissed just once. Bell has scored six of his 14 Test centuries since the start of 2009, and averages over 64 in the same period.

Sri Lanka's opening partnership did much better than England's across the three Tests. They aggregated 362 runs with one century stand and a fifty partnership. However, the lack of substantial partnerships in the middle order was the biggest problem for Sri Lanka. They had only one century stand in the middle order (wickets 2-6), and generally averaged much lower than England. Mahela Jayawardene, who was one of Sri Lanka's most successful batsmen in England coming into this tour, had an ordinary series, scoring just 103 runs at an average of 17.16. Sangakkara, who scored just 65 runs in his first five innings of the series, made amends with a timely century in the second innings of the third Test. This was also his first century in Tests in England. Thilan Samaraweera, who averaged under five in Tests in England before the start of the series, improved that record, scoring two half-centuries in six innings.

Partnership stats for teams (wickets 1-6)- (Runs, Avg, 100/50)
Wicket England Sri Lanka
1 55, 13.75, 0/0 362, 60.33, 1/1
2 141, 35.25, 1/0 225, 37.50, 0/3
3 488, 122.00, 3/0 184, 30.66, 0/1
4 247, 61.75, 1/2 169, 33.80, 0/1
5 283, 70.75, 1/1 282, 56.40, 1/2
6 276, 92.00, 2/0 60, 15.00, 0/0

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mradul on June 21, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    @rana2000: This argument holds water if this was the first series SL has lost against Eng or any big country. By the way how many test Wins in Aus, SA or Ind? Haven't their all time best players played tests in these countries? Since Jan 2006 (Last 5.5 years) SL ranks 6th in the list of Win-Loss ratio when playing away (BD not included). They have only done better than WI, BD and NZ. Start winning away tests first and then comment.

  • Chatty on June 21, 2011, 13:23 GMT

    Sri Lanka 'aided by the weather' managed to draw two tests, says the author: This is the typical shallow comment of journalists these days. What do you think would have happened if the weather was very different - if it was bright and sunny? Do you think England's seam bowlers would have ever taken 20 wickets in a test on those same wickets? No way.England did well BECAUSE of the lousy weather, not DEPITE the weather. That is the difference between the early season and when India tours later.

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