Sri Lanka in England 2014 June 25, 2014

The rise of Mathews and Eranga

Sri Lanka's marks out of ten, for the Test series against England


Angelo Mathews (306 runs at 76.50, 4 wickets at 24.75)

A fighting hundred and a stony rearguard at Lord's, then the innings of his career at Headingley His 160 is the stuff of legend - the kind of knock that transformed Sri Lanka's position in the game and lurched them towards their first series win against a top-eight team outside Asia, since 1995. Two other Sri Lanka batsmen have made great hundreds in England - Sidath Wettimuny in 1984 and Mahela Jayawardene in 2006 - but if this series win can kickstart a Sri Lanka resurgence in Tests, Mathews' innings may be seen as the best of the lot. His bowling was useful as well, and though his captaincy is still a work in progress, there were signs of improvement, particularly at Headingley.


Kumar Sangakkara (342 runs at 85.50)

If ever a Sri Lanka batsman deserves to be called a run machine, it is Sangakkara. In the last few years, his cricket has achieved a clinical excellence that few have managed. He was desperate to have his name on the Lord's honours board, and was uncompromising with his focus in that innings. He did his part to draw that Test, in the second innings, then hit two fifties to help out at Headingley. Having redressed his poor record in England, he is now undoubtedly on the level of Ponting, Tendulkar, Lara and Kallis. Anyone who argues otherwise is not paying attention.


Shaminda Eranga (11 wickets at 32.45)

Had a poor outing at Lord's, perhaps thanks to three-month gap between competitive matches, but recovered beautifully to bowl Sri Lanka's spell of the match in the second innings, one that delayed the England declaration and effectively helped save the game. His unerring second-day toil may be overlooked in years to come, but make no mistake - that is where the match turned for Sri Lanka. They need a long-term pace spearhead. Eranga seems to be the man for the job.

Mahela Jayawardene (174 runs at 43.50)

His returns here are too modest to improve his overall away record, but his two fifties came in trying times for Sri Lanka, and as ever, his runs are worth more than most. He was tried with the short ball throughout the series, and often, he took the field and the bowling on. Mathews may be captain on paper, but Jayawardene remains the most obvious on-field marshal. He has also completed more Test catches now than all but two other players.


Kaushal Silva (146 runs at 36.5)

Twin fifties at Lord's helped further embed Silva in the side, though more would definitely have been expected at Headingley. He left on length as well as line, and played the tightest of all Sri Lanka batsmen in the series. Importantly, as a short opening batsman, he also proved he can handle the bouncer barrages he will no doubt face at this level, all through his career. Sri Lanka will give him a long stint atop the order.

Dimuth Karunaratne (127 runs at 31.75)

It is easy to remark that Karunaratne rarely makes high scores or that he has a strange technique for an opening batsman, but 31.75 is hardly an awful average for a rookie Sri Lanka opening batsman, in early-season England. His technique has some way to go, as does his temperament as he approaches a personal landmark, but given he and Silva have combined to give Sri Lanka better starts than they have had in years, Karunaratne deserves a few more series.

Rangana Herath (8 wickets at 43.87)

Was less impactful on this tour than expected, despite the moderately helpful conditions at Headingley. He was perhaps unlucky not to take a few more wickets, given he beat the edge regularly. Had his best haul in the second innings at Lord's and smothered the batsmen under pressure while quicker men attacked at the other end. His 47 at Headingley was one of the best knocks by a Sri Lanka tailender in years.


Nuwan Pradeep (6 wickets at 50.83)

His career bowling average of 72.78 continues to provide comic relief, but it is clear he is a much better bowler than that number suggests. Had his best outing on the first day at Lord's, when he took three wickets, but was guilty of leaking runs at other occasions. Took the crucial wicket of Joe Root on the final day at Headingley, which swung Sri Lanka's door open just as England's sixth-wicket pair looked like closing it. His five-ball defiance to seal the draw at Lord's is already part of cricketing lore.


Lahiru Thirimanne (4 runs at 1)

At times on tour, it seemed like Thirimanne would spontaneously combust if James Anderson shot him a sideways glance. He was out twice to Anderson at Lord's and made a pair at Headingley. Three of the four balls that dismissed him were terrific deliveries, but Thirimanne will know he cannot use that as an excuse for long. Good Test batsmen see out good balls. He will hope to bounce back strongly against South Africa.

One Test


Dhammika Prasad (6 wickets at 20.83)

Few would ever have imagined a five-wicket haul from Prasad would seal a famous victory in England, but his fourth-evening spell was pure mayhem. Prasad bowled with the pace and intensity he had been picked for and offered a hit-the-deck option for the attack. He will also have earned a place in the squads for Sri Lanka's home Tests.


Dinesh Chandimal (52 runs at 26, 4 catches)

Kept well until the late stages of the Headingley Test, and had good energy throughout the toilsome second day in the field. His 47 hinted at his ability against fast bowling, on bouncy pitches, but falling to the leg trap on day four was a low point.


Prasanna Jayawardene (14 runs at 7, 4 catches)

Had a poor Test behind the stumps at Lord's, but many keepers do. Was out to a good catch in the first innings and dug in admirably alongside Mathews in the second, broken finger and all.


Nuwan Kulasekara (2 wickets at 74)

Threatened at Lord's with the new ball, but was largely toothless when conditions were flat. Could have supported the wicket-takers at the other end with tighter spells, as well.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prashan on June 28, 2014, 12:15 GMT

    Angelo must bowl more in test cricket where he will perhaps bowl 2 over spells between every 15 overs as I am sure he can act as a partnership breaker for us. He is actually a far better bowler than the stats suggests as he bowls less to avoid injury.

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    The fault with Pradeep lies purely in his body position at the beginning of run up to the wicket. He leans forward at least by 15 to 20 degrees to the vertical and only jerks up his body at the point of delivery. If one had cared to look at the run up to wicket of people Mcgrath, Walsh, Ambrose then you will know that they run with erect posture of body. When you lean down to ground then your center of gravity shift from the vertical causing you to lose torso balance at the point of delivery specially when you jerk at the crease upwards. That is why most of deliveries are way outside the stumps and he cannot control the torso get the correct line. Bowling coach should know this and try to work with him to train him running with torso not leaning forwards by 15 to 20 degrees. If they can do that he will be a terror for batsmen.

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2014, 10:48 GMT

    Casual SL bowling made test artificially interesting, they should've won by tea & situation simply suited defensive Moeen slow game

    The difference b/w an overrated accumulator: Dravid & a match winner:Marhews is evident here. His aggressive 100s saved SL the 1st test & won them the 2nd. Dravid scored 3 100s in 2011 Eng tour & Ind lost all 3 tests

    Sachin's 100s at least helped Ind draw a large proportion of matches, most of which Ind could have won, but for toothless Ind bowling Ind didn't

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    Sanga deserved a 9, and Mathews a 9.5!

  • Roshan on June 26, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    Just to think had Dilshan (as a part time bowler) been there his right off-spin would have flourished on that 5th day. SL badly missed a right arm offie - the match would have ended by tea-time. England had many left-handed batsmen but SL did not have anybody who could spin the ball away from them.

  • Dummy4 on June 26, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    So what are the parameters to get a perfect 10? Don't be harsh for the sake of it Andrew. Sangakarra and Mathews deserve probably more that 10!!

  • Reza on June 26, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    If coaches were given marks out of ten Chaminda Vass will be given 10. He has played a pivitol role in the resurgence of our bowling attack. Since he took on the job I have never seen a SL pace attack as such who is disciplined as well as penetrative. Anyone noticed how Prasad raised his left arm with his hand holding a imaginative ball towards the dressing room when he got 5 wickets? thats a students respect to his teacher. And the big bear hugs later proved the appreciation further.

  • Nahim on June 26, 2014, 3:56 GMT

    Great article. I quite agree about Sangakkara being in the elite group of modern batsmen such as Kallis, Tendulkar, Ponting, though I would argue that he has long been in that group and people have been slow to come around to that.

    The ratings are a tad strict though for a team that just won an overseas series!

  • Shamalka on June 26, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    "Mathews may be captain on paper, but Jayawardene remains the most obvious on-field marshal" that's harsh on Mathews. Yes, even Angelo agreed that Sanga and Mahela contributed hell of a lot towards his captaincy however you cannot say It was Mahela who did the major part of marshaling. Mathews is his still young. You might be seeing him as a senior or mature guy purely because of his mammoth contributions. Otherwise he's still young. Give him sometime without putting negative comments about his leadership such as "though his captaincy is still a work in progress"..There's no other suitable replacement for captaincy. Mathews is the only & best choice. Cricinfo pls publish!

  • Dummy4 on June 26, 2014, 2:09 GMT

    The markings are very strict and unfair at times. I wonder what else Mathews should have done to earn a perfect 10 out of 10. He could have easily scored more runs if he did not have to bat with the tail. He along with Eranga created the England batting slide in first innings at Headingly which brought Sri Lanka back into the game from a seemingly hopeless position. Angelo at least deserves 9.5. By the way George Dobell has given 7 out of 10 to Stuart Broad and I wonder whether he deserves that for what he contributed. Rangana Herath deserves more than 5 given the fact that he had to toil hard on not very responsive surfaces. If England had a spinner at least somewhere near his quality they would have wrapped up this series. Thirimanne as vice captain let his team down very badly. A top order batsman even if he is out of form should be able to hang in there for sometime. Lets confine our comments to performance of Sri Lankans in this series only.

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