England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Lord's, 3rd day June 5, 2011

Saker left frustrated as England fluff their lines

The inconsistency of England's quick bowlers didn't please the bowling coach as they allowed Tillakaratne Dilshan to hit 193
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As the drizzle closed in during the afternoon session, there was plenty opportunity for Sky to trawl their archives, and one match in particular seemed pertinent to this situation. At The Oval in August 1998, England looked to have their destiny under control when they posted a hefty 445 in their first innings. A hard-hitting opener had other ideas, however, and once Sanath Jayasuriya had finished battering a stunned attack all across South East London, Sri Lanka had secured a first-innings lead of 146, and a day and a half to turn the screw.

At that point, however, the analogy starts to peter out. No matter how much of a lead Sri Lanka may yet secure in this Test, and despite their astute selection of five bowlers, they lack the mesmeric genius of an individual such as Muttiah Muralitharan, while England - regardless of the setbacks they've suffered in the past few days - are batting with a confidence that surely would not permit such a meltdown. Nevertheless, weather permitting, there's still enough time for England to face an awkward Cardiff-style final day, especially if they continue to ship their runs at close to four an over.

It's been a long old while since England bowled this badly in a Test match. Even at Brisbane in the opening Test of the Ashes, the 307-run stand between Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin was mitigated by an intense discipline that stretched their partnership across the best part of 100 overs. And this time last year, when Bangladesh's Tamim Iqbal appeared at times to have England's number, their unwavering faith in "the right areas" eventually sealed four Test wins out of four. At no stage in either series did England's line of attack waver to the extent they did today, a fact that David Saker, their bowling coach, conceded at the close of play.

"Over the last 12 to 18 months we've set extremely high standards, and over the last two days we've been nothing like those standards," said Saker. "For the first time, I'd probably say there are some technical issues there. I've never seen this team bowl so many balls down the leg-side, and Matty Prior had a hell of a hard job over the last two days wicketkeeping to that. That's usually a sign bowlers are falling over and not jumping straight enough through the crease. We might have to address those [issues]."

The performance of Steven Finn has made for particularly painful viewing, not least for the England management who had trusted his temperament and potential, and backed him in this match to recover from his axing in the Ashes. Instead of slotting straight back into the zone, he served up arguably the most wayward performance by an England youngster since Liam Plunkett bowled himself out of Test cricket at Old Trafford in 2007, before his best spell of the match was curtailed by the rain.

"Finny did a lot of good work with Kevin Shine and Richard Johnson after the Ashes, and came back and was looking really good - so we had no hesitation putting him in the team," said Saker. "We thought he would do a really good job, and I think he was pretty anxious to do that after the Ashes Tests. But he showed some really good rhythm in that last hour - so we walked off the ground feeling a little bit more buoyant."

As in Plunkett's case, however, Finn was not alone in his struggles, because his senior partners also forgot their side of the bargain. Steve Harmison had a shocker in that contest against West Indies four years ago, and today it was Stuart Broad who fluffed his lines - and lengths - as Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene clobbered him at close to five an over. Certainly there was none of the painstaking support that Broad had provided to James Anderson in that Gabba contest, when his 33 wicketless overs leaked just 72 runs all told.

Anderson's absence has been felt for so many reasons, but not for the ones that would have grabbed all the attention. His skiddier line of attack and movement both ways through the air and off the pitch might well have provided something else for Sri Lanka to think about, other than intermittent splice-rattlers from Chris Tremlett and his beanpole cohorts. But more importantly, his stump-to-stump discipline and control with the new ball are the factors that have really gone astray in this game.

"What we usually have done is bowl well together, but we didn't seem to do that, and that's probably the most disappointing part," said Saker. "We think we've got a really good crop of fast bowlers, not just here but back-up ready to slot in, but losing your leader with the ball is always going to be hard. Jimmy in particular has been outstanding. We expect him to bowl his first 16 overs for 30 runs, and that sets the scene for us to really attack with the other bowlers.

"We're hoping to get him back, but I don't think we should be hiding behind Jimmy's absence here," he added. "We should be better than that. We set higher standards, and just to lose one player and bowl the way we did ... I don't think that's excusable. The wicket was quite flat - we've scored 480 on it, so we knew it was going to be hard work. But we knew Dilshan was going to bat that way; we've seen enough of him to know that he can be a difficult man to get out and can take the game away from you really quickly."

Anderson has announced his readiness to return to action at the Rose Bowl, but between now and then England have two days in which to guard against further hiccups. There was a definite sign of improvement shortly before the weather closed in, as Tremlett squashed Dilshan's thumb for the third time in the series before Finn followed up with a good-length ball to bowl him. But with their pride back intact after the horrors of Cardiff, Sri Lanka are unlikely to settle for anything less than a first-innings lead, especially with Jayawardene hunting his third century in as many trips to Lord's.

"We are a bit disappointed the rain has come here, otherwise there would definitely be a result in this match," said Dilshan. "We need a result because we are already 1-0 down, and we came here to win, because there's no point in coming for a draw. If it doesn't rain, we [should] pass England's score, bat one or two sessions tomorrow, get a lead of 100 to 150 runs, and put pressure on England's batting."

It's all a remarkable turnaround from the events of the start of the week in Cardiff, though Dilshan was proud to reiterate his faith in the players at his disposal. "You can't say after 25 overs we are a bad batting line-up," he said. "We have a lot of experience in Sanga, Mahela, Thilan [Samaraweera] and myself. Forget about everything that happened in Cardiff. We came here strong-minded and played our brand of cricket, and proved here we're still strong enough to play good cricket. We're really happy with the last two days."

Saker, understandably, was less chuffed, and admitted that the ease of the Cardiff win might have had some underlying effect on the attitude of his attack. "The danger for a cricketer is disrespecting the game," he said. "When you have good days, you sometimes become lackadaisical. If you do that in this game, it has a habit of biting you on the bottom pretty quickly.

"It's more a sub-conscious thing," he added. "When you're bowling a side out for 80, you think it's just going to happen again. Cricketers, and people in general sometimes, take things for granted. I don't think we did that; I just thought our execution wasn't as good as it has been, and the opposition played very well."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on June 6, 2011, 20:08 GMT

    As a rebuttal to bigwonder's assertion that Test cricket is a fading sport, I'd have to say that really depends one where you are. Tests in England and Australia remain as popular as ever. Viewing figures are low in England as Tests are televised only on subscriber satellite, Sky TV.

    Everywhere else, it's losing ground - no doubt driven by the increasing emphasis and money poured into the T20 contests in particular.

    Blanket statements that Test cricket is dying are one-eyed and unhelpful. My own thought is that 50-over cricket is the main sufferer at the hands of T20 - the English counties no longer have a 50 over format competition. I've heard that the 40 over contest that replaced it is very entertaining, as it reduces that dull patch in the middle where neither bowlers not batsmen attack. I can't say, having seen little of it.

    To get back OT, the main sufferers under this heavy workload are the fast bowlers - they simply have to be rotated and spared from some formats entirely

  • Evilpengwinz on June 6, 2011, 17:09 GMT

    This test is the perfect example of why I think England need to select Ajmal Shahzad. Sri Lanka wouldn't have found it so easy to get to 280-1 if he was bowling reverse swinging yorkers at 93mph. In his 1 test so far, he got match figures of 4/63 then got dropped!

    To be honest, as soon as I saw Broad, Tremlett and Finn selected, I knew that the bowling attack didn't have enough variety in it. Broad has to be dropped for the rest of the summer and work on his bowling in county cricket, as 32-5-125-1 and a test match bowling average of 35+ isn't anywhere near good enough with some of the guys who are waiting to take his place.

    Even when Finn bowls badly, he gets wickets, Broad doesn't. Therefore, I think we should either replace Broad with Shahzad, or Pietersen for Shahzad, and go for 5 bowlers with Broad batting at 7. Broad/Swann/Shahzad/Tremlett/Anderson looks like a pretty good bowling attack to me.

  • voma on June 6, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    yorkslanka , finn allready is a big man , hes 6 foot 7 inches tall mate . Have you ever watched glen mgrath bowl or curtly ambrose . Both of them were really kind to tail enders , NOT !!

  • on June 6, 2011, 17:00 GMT

    Englands bowling has been shocking. I feel really sorry for Prior in all this. Loads of comments bout the number of byes - but Finn and to a lesser extent Tremlett have been wanging the ball down legside that much I began to think they had swapped Saker for Sreesanth as bowling coach. 8 overs in today and Gower asked Bumble "How many would have hit the stumps?" Bumble correctly guessed "None" and he was right, worse still 30%+ were wide outside leg stump. If my under 15's were that wayward in village cricket I'd drop them. Shocking bowling - the worst I've seen since Caddick got the yips in the mid 90's.

  • 5wombats on June 6, 2011, 16:11 GMT

    Sorry - let let me rephrase that; for T20 insert "IPL".

  • 5wombats on June 6, 2011, 16:03 GMT

    When the Three Billy Goats Gruff went out walking they encountered a Troll under the bridge.... Wembley Stadium is empty more frequently than Lords - does that make football a fading sport? I think not. @bigwonder - the difference between T20 and Test cricket is bigger than the difference between Champagne and the Cork. You can keep the cork if you like. Enjoy.

  • WPDDESILVA on June 6, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    So Sri Lanka got 450 odd runs because England bowled poorly? or the pitch was rubbish? Can't you for once give the batting team the credit?

  • yorkslanka on June 6, 2011, 14:29 GMT

    interesting how finn suddenly becomes the big man trying to intimidate the no.11..didnt see much of that when he was bowling garbage down the leg side for the last two days....

  • bigwonder on June 6, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    @5wombats, Thanks for proving my point. 4 to 5 total days of full stadium during entire test season/series/year does not constitute to be a popular sport. As I see, the test fans are hanging by straws and instead of making it more interesting by forcing tests to have results, they are just trying lame justifications. England bowlers have been bowling badly in 2nd test, 120+ overs in two days is exhausting and stressing for any bowler. If you look at the attendance at the stadium for the two tests, as well as dwindling TV viewers, you will might change your rubbish comment to accepting.

  • on June 6, 2011, 14:11 GMT

    I'm with Henrik Lovén - Broad is not currently good enough to be first change for England, let alone given the new ball. As a member of a 5 man attack, sure, no problem, but with only 4 bowlers, you cannot afford a bowler taking wickets at 35+ runs apiece AND going for 3.5+ rpo. His batting is also far too hit-and-miss. The success of England's attack over the last year or so has come from sustained pressure rather than individual brilliance, and he's letting that pressure off. The mentality about 'but he's a good bowler, look at the 5-fer he got in the Ashes in England' is much the same attitude they had with Harmison in his last years.

    One note about Finn - even when he bowls poorly, he gets wickets - he had 14 in the last Ashes from a handful of games. I note he's recovered to take 3 (as I type). Econ still too high, but he's still a newb at Test level.

  • on June 6, 2011, 20:08 GMT

    As a rebuttal to bigwonder's assertion that Test cricket is a fading sport, I'd have to say that really depends one where you are. Tests in England and Australia remain as popular as ever. Viewing figures are low in England as Tests are televised only on subscriber satellite, Sky TV.

    Everywhere else, it's losing ground - no doubt driven by the increasing emphasis and money poured into the T20 contests in particular.

    Blanket statements that Test cricket is dying are one-eyed and unhelpful. My own thought is that 50-over cricket is the main sufferer at the hands of T20 - the English counties no longer have a 50 over format competition. I've heard that the 40 over contest that replaced it is very entertaining, as it reduces that dull patch in the middle where neither bowlers not batsmen attack. I can't say, having seen little of it.

    To get back OT, the main sufferers under this heavy workload are the fast bowlers - they simply have to be rotated and spared from some formats entirely

  • Evilpengwinz on June 6, 2011, 17:09 GMT

    This test is the perfect example of why I think England need to select Ajmal Shahzad. Sri Lanka wouldn't have found it so easy to get to 280-1 if he was bowling reverse swinging yorkers at 93mph. In his 1 test so far, he got match figures of 4/63 then got dropped!

    To be honest, as soon as I saw Broad, Tremlett and Finn selected, I knew that the bowling attack didn't have enough variety in it. Broad has to be dropped for the rest of the summer and work on his bowling in county cricket, as 32-5-125-1 and a test match bowling average of 35+ isn't anywhere near good enough with some of the guys who are waiting to take his place.

    Even when Finn bowls badly, he gets wickets, Broad doesn't. Therefore, I think we should either replace Broad with Shahzad, or Pietersen for Shahzad, and go for 5 bowlers with Broad batting at 7. Broad/Swann/Shahzad/Tremlett/Anderson looks like a pretty good bowling attack to me.

  • voma on June 6, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    yorkslanka , finn allready is a big man , hes 6 foot 7 inches tall mate . Have you ever watched glen mgrath bowl or curtly ambrose . Both of them were really kind to tail enders , NOT !!

  • on June 6, 2011, 17:00 GMT

    Englands bowling has been shocking. I feel really sorry for Prior in all this. Loads of comments bout the number of byes - but Finn and to a lesser extent Tremlett have been wanging the ball down legside that much I began to think they had swapped Saker for Sreesanth as bowling coach. 8 overs in today and Gower asked Bumble "How many would have hit the stumps?" Bumble correctly guessed "None" and he was right, worse still 30%+ were wide outside leg stump. If my under 15's were that wayward in village cricket I'd drop them. Shocking bowling - the worst I've seen since Caddick got the yips in the mid 90's.

  • 5wombats on June 6, 2011, 16:11 GMT

    Sorry - let let me rephrase that; for T20 insert "IPL".

  • 5wombats on June 6, 2011, 16:03 GMT

    When the Three Billy Goats Gruff went out walking they encountered a Troll under the bridge.... Wembley Stadium is empty more frequently than Lords - does that make football a fading sport? I think not. @bigwonder - the difference between T20 and Test cricket is bigger than the difference between Champagne and the Cork. You can keep the cork if you like. Enjoy.

  • WPDDESILVA on June 6, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    So Sri Lanka got 450 odd runs because England bowled poorly? or the pitch was rubbish? Can't you for once give the batting team the credit?

  • yorkslanka on June 6, 2011, 14:29 GMT

    interesting how finn suddenly becomes the big man trying to intimidate the no.11..didnt see much of that when he was bowling garbage down the leg side for the last two days....

  • bigwonder on June 6, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    @5wombats, Thanks for proving my point. 4 to 5 total days of full stadium during entire test season/series/year does not constitute to be a popular sport. As I see, the test fans are hanging by straws and instead of making it more interesting by forcing tests to have results, they are just trying lame justifications. England bowlers have been bowling badly in 2nd test, 120+ overs in two days is exhausting and stressing for any bowler. If you look at the attendance at the stadium for the two tests, as well as dwindling TV viewers, you will might change your rubbish comment to accepting.

  • on June 6, 2011, 14:11 GMT

    I'm with Henrik Lovén - Broad is not currently good enough to be first change for England, let alone given the new ball. As a member of a 5 man attack, sure, no problem, but with only 4 bowlers, you cannot afford a bowler taking wickets at 35+ runs apiece AND going for 3.5+ rpo. His batting is also far too hit-and-miss. The success of England's attack over the last year or so has come from sustained pressure rather than individual brilliance, and he's letting that pressure off. The mentality about 'but he's a good bowler, look at the 5-fer he got in the Ashes in England' is much the same attitude they had with Harmison in his last years.

    One note about Finn - even when he bowls poorly, he gets wickets - he had 14 in the last Ashes from a handful of games. I note he's recovered to take 3 (as I type). Econ still too high, but he's still a newb at Test level.

  • 5wombats on June 6, 2011, 13:55 GMT

    @bigwonder; Rubbish. Lord's full for 3 days, MCG full on Boxing Day - test cricket doesn't look like a fading sport to me....

  • bigwonder on June 6, 2011, 12:49 GMT

    @5wombats, I read your post about bashing IPL on one of the IPL articles, so you should be prepared to read about bashing tests on test related articles. As it stands, I completely agree with @Arulmurugan Ramkuma, test cricket is a fading sport and it only makes it harder for its hard-core supporters to accept that fact. Users have commented about how bowlers don't have a say in T20, but its the same in Test, batsmen are just leaving the ball outside off. Bowlers have to bowl and average of 30 to 40 overs an innings unless its a lawn pitch. Tests can get players injured more frequently, just see recent injuries - Dilshan, England bowlers, etc. There are more chances for bowlers to get wickets in T20 as batsmen are taking risks vs. test where they have plenty of time for net practice. It time for test cricket lovers to accept the facts and move on. Not many people have free time to waste for a 5-day game that usually ends in no result.

  • on June 6, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    As I have said previously, there are two bowlers, both currently injured, who I would select before both Broad and Finn. Check out the stats for Woakes and Harris. This is not change for the sake of change; it is simply a matter of selecting players on the basis of consistent performances.

  • 5wombats on June 6, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    @Arulmurugan Ramkumar; If you are so interested in T20 - why don't you just go away and watch it instead of trying to have conversations about test cricket - which you very evidently find boring? @Paul Rone-Clarke; as usual I completely agree with you - no good whiging about what you don't have.@Ramesh-IT; bring it on. @popcorn; your Degree in talking to yourself seems to have in useful again.

  • Badgerofdoom on June 6, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    @Henrik, I've been thinking the same for a while, in tests Broad has a place as a forth seamer and useful lower order batsman but in a four man attack he does not take enough wickets and should not be given the new ball. This is not just a reaction to this game, he's averaging 35+ from his whole career and I don't see that coming down any time soon. Once all are fit, I think we should consider a 5 man attack with Anderson, Bresnan, Broad, Swann and Tremlett. This would provide variety and batting cover as Bresnan, Broad and Swann average 32, 27 and 24 with the bat respectively.

  • popcorn on June 6, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    Quite simple,David Saker. The gloss is wearing off, if you understand what I mean.

  • on June 6, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    With due respect to both teams and tireless performance to players especially Dilshan, I feel this test is meandering to nowhere. After enduring five days of play a draw or no result is simply unacceptable. Thats exactly the reason why Test cricket should be left where it belongs, the museum. Lets reinvent cricket and do more T20s and Limited over test cricket, which will give us results Five days of watching batsmen leave out side off is real pain I find IPL more interesting, so much fuss made by Urga and all former players of another era over T20, if game is not interesting to watch whats is the use of playing it any way? Bring limited over test cricket and give equal footing to both batsmen and bowlers and complete it in a day for Gods sake

  • Ramesh-IT on June 6, 2011, 9:06 GMT

    @5Wombats: Ya. We'll see how the plan of getting Jimmy Anderson to bowl 16 overs for 30 runs fare against Virender Sehwag..

  • on June 6, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    @Vikramaditya100, I totally agree with you. This is a classic case of over analysis. We just had couple of bad days. I hope they can sort out their issues and come back strongly. Finn is making a comeback and so he should be given bit of time to get back his line and length and his spell before rains did show some signs of improvement. I feel not Finn but Broad is the weak link. Faster he sorts out his issues, better for us.

  • on June 6, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    No point moaning about missing bowlers on either team. Players retire. We had all this "IF only Warne" and "If only McGrath" nonsense all winter. Now with England it's "If only Anderson" and Sri Lanka "If only Murali" and "If only Malinga". If players retire then that's it. End of story.Celebrate the history but don't bemoan the present. England spent 3 years moaning about Flintoff and Jones being either unfit or retiring. It gets you no-where. You play with the players you have NOW - not last year. Your team is as good as it is NOW. No Aravinda, no 1998 Jayasuriya, No Ian Botham, no Derek Underwood, No Flintoff. Between 1990 and 2004/5 the Aussies lost tests, they lost sessions and days. It happens. The 1980's West INdies did the same. You don't win every match or every session or every day - no team ever has done...ever. But as it stands England have 6 test series wins in a row, and I still see no reason why this won't be the seventh.

  • on June 6, 2011, 6:56 GMT

    The greatest problem with the England attack over the past few years has been and is Stuard Broad. In reality, he's not good enough to be more than 3rd or 4th seamer but he's always been given preferential treatment. When he has been taking wickets, it's because class bowlers at the other end such as Anderson, Sidebottom and Swann have created pressure. With them, he can fulfil the role of 3rd seamer. Without them, he's barely good enough to hold one end up. It's about time England reassessed his role within the team. Stuart Broad is a late middle-order batsman and 4th seamer, not an opening bowler or attack leader.

  • 5wombats on June 6, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    @vswami;"English bowling attack on paper has always been very good. There is something mentally fragile in their personalities". Rubbish. Don't worry @vswami - later in the summer we'll see which side has the mentally fragile bowlers. As for Dilshan; he could have been out a dozen times in that score, but any 150+ score is a good effort - even on a flat pitch like this one.

  • Vikramaditya100 on June 6, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    Guys just relax, I think we are over analyzing here. You cannot have all good days in cricket. If that is the case then there is no fun. SL had a bad 5th day in Cardiff, England are having a similar one here (though not so bad). Just leave the players alone and don't put more pressure than there is already and jump to hasty conclusions..................

  • v_singh on June 6, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    Agree with "stationmaster" !! Stuart Broad is (like my country's current hero of WC) Yuvraj Singh - arrogant... I was a bit surprised when ECB handed the T20 captaincy to Broad !! Probably, there were/are not many contenders for captaincy in that format of the game for England...

  • landl47 on June 6, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    If England's bowling attack is mediocre, what does that say about Sri Lanka's batting at Cardiff? The fact is that this pitch, apart from the first hour of the game, has been a road. Saker is right to say that England's bowlers haven't bowled well, but even if they'd kept tighter lines Sri Lanka would still have scored runs, just not as fast. Now SL have to get a lead of at least 100 to put any kind of pressure on England, and do it quickly. They're still 114 behind; a couple of quick wickets tomorrow and they'll be struggling to match England's total. Sri Lankans who are rejoicing over their side's performance were equally happy after the first innings in Cardiff, and look what happened there.

  • Rosey86 on June 6, 2011, 4:46 GMT

    Honestly, during the Ashes, the English attack looked its best when Anderson, Bresnan and Tremlett were the three quicks for Melbourne and Sydney. Anyone who saw them operate in those tests at the grounds will tell you they hardly bowled a bad ball. Constant movement in hot and sunny conditions. Finn and Broad, in my honest opinion, are not good enough currently. Too wayward. I have to sit through hours of watching Mitchell Johnson bowl rubbish as an Aussie fan, you would think that once Bresnan and Anderson are fit, they should be back together with Tremlett. Its a great combination of pace, seam and swing.

  • vswami on June 6, 2011, 2:40 GMT

    Can someone please give credit to Dilshan for playing an excellent knock. England has conceded 400+ totals twice in conditions ( bounce and swing ) that are absolutely alien to a side that hasnt toured outside the subcontinent for three years. English bowling attack on paper has always been very good. There is something mentally fragile in their personalities.

  • RohanMarkJay on June 6, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    Also I support England except when they play Sri Lanka due to my mixed background. So in these three tests I am supporting SL. I agree with all the points of 5Wombats. The England bowling attack for Test level is quite formidable. However England being England. You know they take their foot off the accelerator, occasionally lose their bowling discipline and bowl a lot of dross. That is not to take anything away from the excellent batsmanship of Tilekaratne Dilshan. That was a brilliant hundred from him.

  • HatsforBats on June 6, 2011, 0:28 GMT

    @stationmaster: agreed, Broad needs to cut back on the hubris. Finn has promise without doubt, but he is so young I think it would benefit him to get more experience and consistency in 1st class. Even during the Ashes against an out of form batting line up Finn was going at 4 an over, and Broad was no better. Neither of them use their height as well as Tremlett does as they both bowl too short. I don't know what Eng options are (what's happened to Onions?) but having Trem, Broad, and Finn isn't a balanced attack.

  • dsig3 on June 6, 2011, 0:27 GMT

    Well hopefully this puts the McGrath comparisons to rest once and for all. To me, Broad and Finn are similar bowlers. They are attacking bowlers who will go for runs and get wickets. They bowl a variety of lengths and are not content to hit a length. Tremlett is much more steady in my opinion. When it is all working for them batsmen dont have a chance but when it aint both Broad and Finn will leak runs.

  • on June 5, 2011, 23:51 GMT

    So let me get this straight... Sri Lanka have a crap bowling attack that everyone howled about... 1 bowler gets injured from England and suddenly the Eng attack is bowling bad lines and leaking runs??? Well then perhaps people should remember that when it comes to the SL attack they are missing Murali, Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep, Nuwan Kula, Thilina Thushara and Dilhara was out for the last game... How many is that???? And wait oh yes thats right England were bowled out in the first innings...

    Now SL are 370/3 cause England bowled bad lines....Oh please!!! Maybe people have also forgotten (after the 82 run Cardiff match) that Sri Lanka has one of the best batting line ups out there... Did I hear people saying that Sanga was the only 1 who can play abroad??? Well not a 50 yet from him and 2 out of 3 innings SL have gotten the runs on the board

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 5, 2011, 23:01 GMT

    @ cranaweera- hardly fair,Saker made no excuses- he freedly admitted how poor they were. These guys took plenty of wickets in austalia when the weather was fine and Finn did well in Bangladesh-0 against poor battening but on flat tracks.They were, undeniably poor today, and Dilshan batted very well, but England have won a lot of test matches home and away recently- they didn't do that without some skill. Even good attacks have bad days- remember Adelaide 2006. This lot are not a vintage austalian attack, and I'm repeatedly disappointed with Broad, but to condemn this team as useless and over rated is braying and ingenuous.

  • Dhutugemunu on June 5, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    England Cricket Team is overrated after their famous retaining of Ashes on Aussie Soil. At that time Australia was not at their best. All cricket followers know about it. We saw what happened after that. 6-1 won to Australia in the ODI series. On the other hand Sri Lanka is not a weak Test team. Sri Lankan team was in top 4 for years. In these days SL is #4 and Eng is #3. Is it a big difference? Chances for England is higher to win this series, since SL bowling line up is depleted without Murali, Vass and Malinga and the matches are playing in England. Without any argument current England team is the best we have seen within past two decades. But can they climb the ladder up to #1? I doubt that.

  • 5wombats on June 5, 2011, 22:30 GMT

    @cranaweera; "The England bowling attack... is mediocre" & "The only way they can take wickets is with the help of poor weather". Twaddle. England won at Adelaide & Sydney and the weather was perfect. Don't worry @cranaweera - India will get their chance later in the summer. Then we'll see who has the "mediocre bowling attack"....

  • Fifthman on June 5, 2011, 21:25 GMT

    This shows the folly of going in with 3 like for like fast bowlers. OK, so they're all tall buggers, but you need some variety in an attack. What wouldn't we have given for a skiddy fast bowler who can reverse it, like Ajmal Shahzad or (invoking the ghosts of 2005) Simon Jones.

    Steven Finn still needs a couple more years on the County circuit and Broad really needs to show some discipline. Please don't rush Jimmy back too soon (keep his powder dry for India), but definitely give Graham Onions the nod for the Rose Bowl.

    That's my England quicks line up for the next Test; Tremlett, Shahzad and Onions.

  • stationmaster on June 5, 2011, 21:06 GMT

    I'm confused as to why all the attention is on Finn ? Stuart Broad bowled more boundary balls than anyone - he failed to apply pressure and looked like he was happy just rocking up to the crease and spraying it. I worry that Stuart Broads arrogance, that is sometimes a weapon, is now becoming a poison. He celebrated his batting half century like he'd scored 200, it was embarrassing to watch. He needs to knuckle down to some hard work and less frills.

  • 5wombats on June 5, 2011, 20:48 GMT

    Pertinent from Saker - yes, England did bowl some dross - but they have nearly 500 runs in the bank, so it shouldn't be life threatening. I've been at Lord's all 3 days. Atmospherics might aid swing but the pitch is FLAT. Eng attack is too samey, there's nothing there for Swann. Eng should have played Derbach. Finn will get dropped again - which is a shame, but these days the set up will not tolerate ordinary performances. He's young and he will stay in the frame. Englands bowling in The Ashes wasn't brilliant - just steady test quality. What I've been watching is well below that or the standard of Cardiff. Sri Lanka has more variety in its bowling - but that doesn't make it more dangerous. I just can't see SL putting any pressure on England in the latter stages of this game. I did expect a tough fight from Sri Lanka's batsmen, but England can bowl a lot better than this. It's a sign of the times that no-one is trying to hide from the truth - a good sign. Work tomorrow, boo-hoo!

  • KingOwl on June 5, 2011, 20:43 GMT

    Enough excuses. Let's face it. The England bowling attack without Anderson is definitely mediocre. The only way they can take wickets is with the help of poor weather. The other fact that is ignored is that if you have got attacking batsmen like Dilshan at the crease, most bowling attacks will look even worse than they really are.

  • voma on June 5, 2011, 20:16 GMT

    We cant put all our bowling woes on steve finns shoulders , hopefully he will learn from this test . But i thought stuart broad has been very poor in this test , he looks like hes come back into the England team to soon . He needs to find his bowling rythm again and he bowls far to many non threatening bouncers . Its a shame that tim bresnan is out injured , i think he could of been very usefull with the ball and bat .Well played Sri Lanka .

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  • voma on June 5, 2011, 20:16 GMT

    We cant put all our bowling woes on steve finns shoulders , hopefully he will learn from this test . But i thought stuart broad has been very poor in this test , he looks like hes come back into the England team to soon . He needs to find his bowling rythm again and he bowls far to many non threatening bouncers . Its a shame that tim bresnan is out injured , i think he could of been very usefull with the ball and bat .Well played Sri Lanka .

  • KingOwl on June 5, 2011, 20:43 GMT

    Enough excuses. Let's face it. The England bowling attack without Anderson is definitely mediocre. The only way they can take wickets is with the help of poor weather. The other fact that is ignored is that if you have got attacking batsmen like Dilshan at the crease, most bowling attacks will look even worse than they really are.

  • 5wombats on June 5, 2011, 20:48 GMT

    Pertinent from Saker - yes, England did bowl some dross - but they have nearly 500 runs in the bank, so it shouldn't be life threatening. I've been at Lord's all 3 days. Atmospherics might aid swing but the pitch is FLAT. Eng attack is too samey, there's nothing there for Swann. Eng should have played Derbach. Finn will get dropped again - which is a shame, but these days the set up will not tolerate ordinary performances. He's young and he will stay in the frame. Englands bowling in The Ashes wasn't brilliant - just steady test quality. What I've been watching is well below that or the standard of Cardiff. Sri Lanka has more variety in its bowling - but that doesn't make it more dangerous. I just can't see SL putting any pressure on England in the latter stages of this game. I did expect a tough fight from Sri Lanka's batsmen, but England can bowl a lot better than this. It's a sign of the times that no-one is trying to hide from the truth - a good sign. Work tomorrow, boo-hoo!

  • stationmaster on June 5, 2011, 21:06 GMT

    I'm confused as to why all the attention is on Finn ? Stuart Broad bowled more boundary balls than anyone - he failed to apply pressure and looked like he was happy just rocking up to the crease and spraying it. I worry that Stuart Broads arrogance, that is sometimes a weapon, is now becoming a poison. He celebrated his batting half century like he'd scored 200, it was embarrassing to watch. He needs to knuckle down to some hard work and less frills.

  • Fifthman on June 5, 2011, 21:25 GMT

    This shows the folly of going in with 3 like for like fast bowlers. OK, so they're all tall buggers, but you need some variety in an attack. What wouldn't we have given for a skiddy fast bowler who can reverse it, like Ajmal Shahzad or (invoking the ghosts of 2005) Simon Jones.

    Steven Finn still needs a couple more years on the County circuit and Broad really needs to show some discipline. Please don't rush Jimmy back too soon (keep his powder dry for India), but definitely give Graham Onions the nod for the Rose Bowl.

    That's my England quicks line up for the next Test; Tremlett, Shahzad and Onions.

  • 5wombats on June 5, 2011, 22:30 GMT

    @cranaweera; "The England bowling attack... is mediocre" & "The only way they can take wickets is with the help of poor weather". Twaddle. England won at Adelaide & Sydney and the weather was perfect. Don't worry @cranaweera - India will get their chance later in the summer. Then we'll see who has the "mediocre bowling attack"....

  • Dhutugemunu on June 5, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    England Cricket Team is overrated after their famous retaining of Ashes on Aussie Soil. At that time Australia was not at their best. All cricket followers know about it. We saw what happened after that. 6-1 won to Australia in the ODI series. On the other hand Sri Lanka is not a weak Test team. Sri Lankan team was in top 4 for years. In these days SL is #4 and Eng is #3. Is it a big difference? Chances for England is higher to win this series, since SL bowling line up is depleted without Murali, Vass and Malinga and the matches are playing in England. Without any argument current England team is the best we have seen within past two decades. But can they climb the ladder up to #1? I doubt that.

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 5, 2011, 23:01 GMT

    @ cranaweera- hardly fair,Saker made no excuses- he freedly admitted how poor they were. These guys took plenty of wickets in austalia when the weather was fine and Finn did well in Bangladesh-0 against poor battening but on flat tracks.They were, undeniably poor today, and Dilshan batted very well, but England have won a lot of test matches home and away recently- they didn't do that without some skill. Even good attacks have bad days- remember Adelaide 2006. This lot are not a vintage austalian attack, and I'm repeatedly disappointed with Broad, but to condemn this team as useless and over rated is braying and ingenuous.

  • on June 5, 2011, 23:51 GMT

    So let me get this straight... Sri Lanka have a crap bowling attack that everyone howled about... 1 bowler gets injured from England and suddenly the Eng attack is bowling bad lines and leaking runs??? Well then perhaps people should remember that when it comes to the SL attack they are missing Murali, Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep, Nuwan Kula, Thilina Thushara and Dilhara was out for the last game... How many is that???? And wait oh yes thats right England were bowled out in the first innings...

    Now SL are 370/3 cause England bowled bad lines....Oh please!!! Maybe people have also forgotten (after the 82 run Cardiff match) that Sri Lanka has one of the best batting line ups out there... Did I hear people saying that Sanga was the only 1 who can play abroad??? Well not a 50 yet from him and 2 out of 3 innings SL have gotten the runs on the board

  • dsig3 on June 6, 2011, 0:27 GMT

    Well hopefully this puts the McGrath comparisons to rest once and for all. To me, Broad and Finn are similar bowlers. They are attacking bowlers who will go for runs and get wickets. They bowl a variety of lengths and are not content to hit a length. Tremlett is much more steady in my opinion. When it is all working for them batsmen dont have a chance but when it aint both Broad and Finn will leak runs.