Sri Lanka in England 2014 June 25, 2014

Batting offers promise but captain concerns

A new-look England side came within one wicket of winning at Lord's and two balls of salvaging a drawn series at Headingley, but while there were promising signs there also remain significant worries
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8

Gary Ballance (201 runs at 67.00)

An excellent century at Lord's - solid when required and accelerating when appropriate - underlined the impression that Ballance should enjoy a long career at this level. He also registered a half-century at Headingley and, if he experienced second-innings failure, there is mitigation in the fact that he was asked to bat in the unfamiliar position of No. 3 to accommodate more senior players. Fitness permitting - and he appears to be growing fitter all the time - Ballance is a certainty for the first Test against India.

Liam Plunkett (43 runs at 14.33 and 11 wickets at 30.09)

An impressive return to Test cricket after a seven-year absence. Plunkett hurried the Sri Lankan batsmen with his pace and bounce even on the sluggish Lord's surface, before taking nine wickets at Headingley. While he did play one of the worst strokes imaginable by a nightwatchman at the end of the fourth day of that game, he was picked as a bowler and, by demonstrating unusual pace and hostility, he offered England an edge they have not had since Steven Finn was at his best.

7

Moeen Ali (162 runs at 54.00 and 3 wickets at 60.33)

Moeen proved his worth by batting throughout the final day of the series as England battled to save the game. His century was a masterpiece of elegance and restraint. He needed the innings: a pleasing 48 on debut had been followed by two low scores brought about by loose strokes and his place was beginning to look fragile. He had hardly been trusted to bowl. While he did enjoy one good spell on the third afternoon at Headingley, claiming two good wickets, it was hard to avoid the impression that he did not enjoy the full confidence of his captain and, on the fourth day, he struggled to contain the Sri Lankan batsmen. Still, during that third afternoon, as his confidence grew, he unveiled what is believed to be the first doosra delivered by an England player in Test cricket. He is clearly not the finished article, with the ball in particular, but he did enough to suggest that, if England persevere with his bowling, he may repay their faith. Whether he is ready to go into a Test series against India as the No. 1 spinner is debatable, though.

James Anderson (12 wickets at 21.50)

It may be that Anderson has become a victim of his own consistency. He was very good at Lord's and finished the series as the top wicket-taker on either side as well as being named England's man of the series. But, so reliant upon his excellence have England become - even when he has not taken wickets he has generally remained reliable - that his under-par second innings display at Headingley was shocking. It may be that his captain asks too much of him: Cook routinely asks for eight overs at a time, sometimes more, and it may be that, aged 31, Anderson is no longer able to shoulder such a burden in back-to-back Tests.

Stuart Broad (75 runs at 18.75 and 7 wickets at 34.57)

While never at his absolute best, Broad bowled well enough at Lord's and almost won the game for his side with his final spell. He also produced a valuable innings in the first Test. But, at Headingley, when his captain needed him most, he went missing, perhaps paying for a lack of cricket ahead of the Tests due to his knee injury. Fears remain that his workload in all formats is diminishing his effectiveness and his long-term future.

6

Sam Robson (171 runs at 42.75)

One good innings in the series. Robson appeared understandably nervous on debut at Lord's, drawn into poking at one he should have left in the first innings and being beaten between bat and pad in the second. But he looked much more solid at Headingley, registering a maiden Test century in only his second game and displaying the patience and discipline that could serve him well at this level. He squandered a good start in the second innings, though, pushing hard at one he could have left. Sure to start the series against India, but has not done enough to cement his place.

Joe Root (259 runs at 86.33)

Back in the No. 5 position in which he appears most comfortable, Root registered a maiden Test double-century at Lord's. For a man who had been dropped at the end of the Ashes tour, it was an important contribution and cemented his place in the plans of the 'new era.' He was less impressive at Headingley, though, falling to a loose stroke in the first innings and appeared to be worked over by the short ball in the second before nicking off. He is only 23, so some setbacks are probably inevitable.

5

Ian Bell (137 runs at 34.25)

Two pleasing half-centuries might have been enough for the 22-year-old Bell, but England require more from the 32-year-old version. Bell continues to look in supreme form and timed the ball as well anyone but, as a senior figure, he will be required to provide far more substantial contributions.

Chris Jordan (92 runs at 23.00 and 5 wickets at 54.60)

A slightly disappointing debut series. Jordan bowled nicely at times, displaying good pace and consistency, and and nice timing with the bat. But he only claimed five wickets in the two Tests and was among the seamers to lose their way on the fourth day at Lord's. While he clearly has ability with the bat, he also displayed a propensity to chase the ball outside off stump and put down a chance in the slips. Ben Stokes will be pushing him hard for a place in the first Test against India.

4

Matt Prior (139 runs at 46.33 and 14 catches)

Batted well in his comeback innings at Lord's, but endured a wretched game with the gloves at Headingley and was twice bounced out by Sri Lankan bowlers. It may be that Prior, who was able to play little cricket ahead of the series due to injury, was simply out of form. Or it may be that he is a player in decline. Either way, he is far from assured of a place in the side for the first Test against India, though the lack of rivals pressing for his place works in his favour.

3

Alastair Cook (78 runs at 19.50)

With only 78 runs in four innings, this series extended Cook's poor run of form with the bat. He was also unable to summon a good performance from his side at Headingley and most be held partially accountable for the slow over-rate that might have cost England at Lord's. The decision to allow Angelo Mathews singles and put back the fields at the start of the fourth day did nothing to dissuade his critics that he was a negative captain, while his testy response in interviews suggested the pressure was beginning to wear him down. He was, however, let down by his senior players in Headingley and obliged to captain a team containing several inexperienced players. The fact that are few viable candidates for his place in the side or his position as opener mean that it would still be a major shock if he was not captain in the series against India.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Diaz54 on June 27, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    Take my word Ali will not be selected. He is a batsman bowler, batted beautifully. He is incredibly talented and pleasing on the eye. Has he got support of the system....I am afraid not. He had to be selected due to his run scoring last year. Showed in incredible,calmness. Other players won't mention names have big support for a number of reasons, which if elaborate my comments won't get published.,you just have to read comments in the telegraph! I also,feel sorry for Pate.

  • Jaffa79 on June 27, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Cook will be fine. The guy has a phenomenal record and will break all kinds of records. He smashed the Indians all over India and scored 290 against them over here. He is tough and will be back.

  • on June 27, 2014, 15:49 GMT

    "Whether he is ready to go into a Test series against India as the No. 1 spinner is debatable, though. "

    There is no debate; hes not good enough. I am (as a fan of Worcs) a huge fan of Moeen and he is definitely good enough to be in the side as a batsman who bowls. His bowling is better than 'part time' and were you to require a 'second spinner' (as England frequently do on tours to the sub-continent) then he is an ideal candidate for the role. But to expect him to be the main spinner in the side was and continues to be grossly unfair on him.

  • Speng on June 27, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    Cook's a walking wicket (let's not talk about his captaincy here) and deserves a 2 only for showing up. He and Robson will probably get a more stern test by India's seamers - esp Bhuv Kumar who is a really good new ball swing bowler.

    In a series with 5 tests on the trot and 5 one dayers I think England are going to struggle to take 20 wickets. Plunkett's a good find and perhaps with some County Cricket having been played there will be more depth available but Jimmy will have to be managed else it will be like last where he took 19 in the first two matches and nowt thereafter. Similar for Broad as he had a really good spell at Lords but not much otherwise. Root &Ali are chip in spinners, the team needs a proper spinner. I like Jordan: athletic, bats a bit, quality fielder but I don't think he's a wicket taker yet at Test level. A couple more County seasons for him to get some tricks up his sleeve - swing & reverse, seam movement - and he can be a force but right now he's undercooked

  • Uticensis on June 27, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    I'd agree with most of this. Not sure Ballance deserves to be singled out as the best batter above Ali or Root. He steps a long way back into his crease against pace bowlers and this makes him very vulnerable to the moving ball pitched up. I'd prefer him at 6 and Moeen at 3, on the basis of these two tests. Given that Bell, the most natural no.3 I've ever seen, doesn't want or isn't trusted with the spot.

    Cook is a tragedy that only England cricket can dream up. But Dobell's right about being let down too. I get the impression Anderson's a cussed player to captain. Plenty of spirit and a sharp cricket brain, but sulky and non-co-operative when things don't go his way.

  • JG2704 on June 27, 2014, 11:58 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (June 27, 2014, 8:11 GMT) He also gave some defiant interviews so that makes it 4. Reckon we can make him up to a 6 or 7 by the end of the week?

  • JG2704 on June 27, 2014, 8:57 GMT

    @rizwan1981 on (June 25, 2014, 20:03 GMT) Don't really see the logic there. You could argue that if a middle order batsman comes in when the team has lost early wickets the pressure is greater because all you have below you is the lower order/tail. If a middle order batsman makes a big score when the top order has laid a big platform I'd be inclined to agree with you. However Root came in with England struggling on 74-3 and as for Ali , well England almost miraculously saved the last test because he batted all day after coming in when England were 57-5. If Eng had saved the test then that would have been the inns of the series from an Eng player

    please publish this time

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 27, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    @JG2704 (post on June 26, 2014, 13:37 GMT): He [Cook] took a catch in each game, scored 78 runs, and captained. 3 points...

  • on June 27, 2014, 0:28 GMT

    "Solid when required and accelerating when appropriate", Dobell put it so aptly. Any surprise? That is what Ballance is all about. Hope others can also strike the same balance. To Moeen's credit and to the surprise of everyone who knows his natural aggressive style, he Moeen) did that in the 2nd innings of the 2nd Test.

  • Zak-R on June 26, 2014, 20:57 GMT

    Ali is a Knock Out! -Under Bowled -When he was put on to bowl in the 2nd innings of the Test, he had two WORLD CLASS BATSMAN (between them they have 22K runs) -ALI Struck with 2 wickets. -When compared to Herath who bowled 67 overs who took 3 wickets, bowled almost 3 times as much as Ali. -WIP Doosra How can anyone or be in doubt, this

  • Diaz54 on June 27, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    Take my word Ali will not be selected. He is a batsman bowler, batted beautifully. He is incredibly talented and pleasing on the eye. Has he got support of the system....I am afraid not. He had to be selected due to his run scoring last year. Showed in incredible,calmness. Other players won't mention names have big support for a number of reasons, which if elaborate my comments won't get published.,you just have to read comments in the telegraph! I also,feel sorry for Pate.

  • Jaffa79 on June 27, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Cook will be fine. The guy has a phenomenal record and will break all kinds of records. He smashed the Indians all over India and scored 290 against them over here. He is tough and will be back.

  • on June 27, 2014, 15:49 GMT

    "Whether he is ready to go into a Test series against India as the No. 1 spinner is debatable, though. "

    There is no debate; hes not good enough. I am (as a fan of Worcs) a huge fan of Moeen and he is definitely good enough to be in the side as a batsman who bowls. His bowling is better than 'part time' and were you to require a 'second spinner' (as England frequently do on tours to the sub-continent) then he is an ideal candidate for the role. But to expect him to be the main spinner in the side was and continues to be grossly unfair on him.

  • Speng on June 27, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    Cook's a walking wicket (let's not talk about his captaincy here) and deserves a 2 only for showing up. He and Robson will probably get a more stern test by India's seamers - esp Bhuv Kumar who is a really good new ball swing bowler.

    In a series with 5 tests on the trot and 5 one dayers I think England are going to struggle to take 20 wickets. Plunkett's a good find and perhaps with some County Cricket having been played there will be more depth available but Jimmy will have to be managed else it will be like last where he took 19 in the first two matches and nowt thereafter. Similar for Broad as he had a really good spell at Lords but not much otherwise. Root &Ali are chip in spinners, the team needs a proper spinner. I like Jordan: athletic, bats a bit, quality fielder but I don't think he's a wicket taker yet at Test level. A couple more County seasons for him to get some tricks up his sleeve - swing & reverse, seam movement - and he can be a force but right now he's undercooked

  • Uticensis on June 27, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    I'd agree with most of this. Not sure Ballance deserves to be singled out as the best batter above Ali or Root. He steps a long way back into his crease against pace bowlers and this makes him very vulnerable to the moving ball pitched up. I'd prefer him at 6 and Moeen at 3, on the basis of these two tests. Given that Bell, the most natural no.3 I've ever seen, doesn't want or isn't trusted with the spot.

    Cook is a tragedy that only England cricket can dream up. But Dobell's right about being let down too. I get the impression Anderson's a cussed player to captain. Plenty of spirit and a sharp cricket brain, but sulky and non-co-operative when things don't go his way.

  • JG2704 on June 27, 2014, 11:58 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (June 27, 2014, 8:11 GMT) He also gave some defiant interviews so that makes it 4. Reckon we can make him up to a 6 or 7 by the end of the week?

  • JG2704 on June 27, 2014, 8:57 GMT

    @rizwan1981 on (June 25, 2014, 20:03 GMT) Don't really see the logic there. You could argue that if a middle order batsman comes in when the team has lost early wickets the pressure is greater because all you have below you is the lower order/tail. If a middle order batsman makes a big score when the top order has laid a big platform I'd be inclined to agree with you. However Root came in with England struggling on 74-3 and as for Ali , well England almost miraculously saved the last test because he batted all day after coming in when England were 57-5. If Eng had saved the test then that would have been the inns of the series from an Eng player

    please publish this time

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 27, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    @JG2704 (post on June 26, 2014, 13:37 GMT): He [Cook] took a catch in each game, scored 78 runs, and captained. 3 points...

  • on June 27, 2014, 0:28 GMT

    "Solid when required and accelerating when appropriate", Dobell put it so aptly. Any surprise? That is what Ballance is all about. Hope others can also strike the same balance. To Moeen's credit and to the surprise of everyone who knows his natural aggressive style, he Moeen) did that in the 2nd innings of the 2nd Test.

  • Zak-R on June 26, 2014, 20:57 GMT

    Ali is a Knock Out! -Under Bowled -When he was put on to bowl in the 2nd innings of the Test, he had two WORLD CLASS BATSMAN (between them they have 22K runs) -ALI Struck with 2 wickets. -When compared to Herath who bowled 67 overs who took 3 wickets, bowled almost 3 times as much as Ali. -WIP Doosra How can anyone or be in doubt, this

  • Nampally on June 26, 2014, 20:05 GMT

    I expect Cook & Bell to lead the batting for England because of their experience. They are still the best 2 in England batting. Balance & Robson are new comers but appear to be in good Form. Root & Prior are also expected to do well. So England batting is still their strength. In bowling Plunkett will be the England trump card. Ali, although a good all rounder, is not in the same class Swann. So the old horses - Anderson & Broad - will have to perform at high level. England is relying heavily on their pace attack to win the match for them. If the Indian bats are disciplined & leave the balls outside the off stump well alone, I expect the Indian batting to score heavily. Gambhir & Dhawan should control their poking at these balls. Pujara, Kohli & R. Sharma are all good batsmen capable of scoring big. Indian bowling is much better than that 3 years back with Kumar & Shami good swing bowlers. If they control their length they will be handful. Spinners Jadeja & Ashwin cannot be ignored!

  • JG2704 on June 26, 2014, 19:29 GMT

    @ballsintherightareas on (June 25, 2014, 23:49 GMT) Looking at your side , it looks to me that it contradicts the selection criteria. Would you say Stokes and Woakes are better bowlers than Jimmy or Onions or even Plunket and Jordan - although maybe the latter was not included because he is currently injured? Also it would be harsh to drop Ali after the knock which almost put Eng in the record books re saving a test. I've not studied this years averages too hard but it seems to me that Patel has been doing better than Taylor for Notts.

  • yorkshire-86 on June 26, 2014, 15:28 GMT

    I'm not saying Ali had a bad series, I'm just saying he is not good enough a player to be the main spinner. If we don't have a stand out spinner, pick a mediocre one - but you NEED a full time spinner, and Ali who averages over 40 (usually 25 is the benchmark for a great player, 32 the bottom line, the equivalent of 40 with the bat, and 40 with the ball the limit on whether you can call yourself a bowler.

  • JG2704 on June 26, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    Re the marks ctd - One thing I think everyone will agree with me on is that Cook should be cut adrift at the bottom. He had a woeful series both as batsman and captain and I really would like to know how he is rated within a point of Prior who came in with England 209-5 and left Eng 171 runs better off? I also wonder how Jordan is deemed to have had a better series than Prior?

    Finally - how did Cook earn any of his 3 points?

  • JG2704 on June 26, 2014, 13:36 GMT

    Re the marks - it's very subjective although I agree that Ballance is not 2 marks better than Root. They should at least be on par marks with maybe Root a point up. Also on face value it seems that Jimmy should be above Broad and maybe Plunket. He has taken 1 more wicket than Plunket at a significantly better average and ER and 5 more than Broad at a much better average. In the 1st test/2nd inns he got rid of Jaya,Sanga and Matthews - surely SL's key players - and helped Eng get close to winning a match they would have won had Cook showed a little more conviction as captain. Surely Broad and Plunket's batting should count for little. I mean the only inns where they really did anything was 1st test/1st inns and they came to the crease when Eng had 402 and 467 runs on the board so it was hardly like they came in with Eng in a perilous position and both were found wanting when Eng wanted some resistance in the 2nd test 2nd inns

  • on June 26, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    On the keeper front, England have the unusual luxury of having a spin bowling all rounder (Moeen) and a seam bowling all rounder (Stokes, who should be back in the team). If these 2 bat 6 and 7, your keeper doesn't have to be a top batsman, which would allow someone like Foster or Read to take the gloves.

  • Aussiesfalling on June 26, 2014, 10:36 GMT

    I expect cricket writers to have an opinion and therefore a bias and George Dobell is no different. Bell [batting average 34.25] is rated 5 with no suggestion of him being dropped for the next Test while Prior [batting average 46.33] is rated 4 and is apparently not assured of his place for the next Test. Prior getting out to a couple of very good bouncers is highlighted while Bell getting bowled through the gate a couple of time by seamers is ignored.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 26, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    @sevillano, honestly Foster and Reed are the ones being talked about both as keeper and Captain, I'm not convinced by either argument.

    Buttler is a Work in progress as is Bairstow, I can see these tow being subjects of much discussion over the next few years as to who deserves the England keeping spot. Both need time behind the stumps and in front of the wicket in the longer format.

    Others include Davies and Keiswetter though they seem to have dropped off the proverbial radar.

  • jb633 on June 26, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    @WestmorIndia- ok, you may bracket me in the negative English fans column and I am very pessimistic about what I have seen (not just international wise) post India at home 2011. Where is the next spinner coming from? We we will not win games until this issue is resolved. Secondly, where are the clever swing bowlers (who can possibly replace Jimmy Anderson?). Thirdly, what are we doing with our pitches? Surely we must make a green top and at least try and have something in our favour. Fourthly, where is the alternative capatin? We can't accept that Cook is good enough at the job or we may as well quit playing right now. Fifth, we have just been beaten, at home, in all 3 formats, against a bowling attack that would barely scare any county side. How are we supposed to be positive right now.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 26, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    @Chris1881, its an interesting notion, however can captaincy be taught in such a manner, Isnt captaincy more about the feel of the game at a given time, knowing opposition players, detecting flaws and setting plans to exploit those flaws.

    The main difference with modern captains and their predecessors is that in the past captains had to think on their feet as they didn't have back room staff to help, they had to remember a players weakness, and they learnt captaincy skills in County cricket.

    This is where Clarke wins as he still plays for his state side as captain if there are no internationals Cook played 2/3 CC games this season out of 5/6 before this and didn't captain in one of them.

    I personally think he needs to drop the ODI games and focus on tests so that if necessary he can play FC games at the start and end of the season, and Essex need to make him captain or VC for those games so he can learn.

  • sevillano on June 26, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    I am surprised to read your opinion that there is no clear alternative to Prior behind the stumps. I have the impression that there are several very good keepers or batters who can keep. In the first category, James Foster is habitually as good behind the stumps as Prior at his best, apart from being a fairly good batter, and in the other category, Buttler seems outstanding, This is not to say that I doubt Matt Propr''s ability to refind his best form. It is just that I have the impression that wicketkeeping is one place where England have a wealth of riches at their disposal. Best regards, Sevillano.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 26, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, interesting that you mention Riley, I'd not heard of him until now but looking at the CC2 stats, he is an interesting option, maybe consider him for the WI tour next spring, and get him into the lions ASAP.

    If Stokes comes back for India then I expect Jordan will go and we might see Prior batting at 8 with Moeen and Stokes at 6 & 7, then where does Riley fit into the order if hes a spin option, unless you rotate Plunkett, Broad and Anderson based on pitch.

  • Chris1881 on June 26, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    If, like Lord Mandelson, Cook is a fighter not a quitter & if Downton/Moores won't yet drop him - impossible - then Cook remains as captain.

    Assuming Downton/Moores don't score Cook as a 10 in the field, what is the plan to improve his captaincy?

    Cook needs mentoring from someone who has been in his extraordinarily tough position. In this area England have a natural advantage over, say, Australia or SA, in that they have many more former captains.

    Should Cook be closeted with Brearley?

    Strauss would be empathetic to how a captain cautious by nature can become bolder.

    My suggestion, however, would be for Cook to spend the next week with fellow Essex Boy, Nasser Hussain. Nass brought energy & anger to a team which had been drifting for years. His tactical understanding is excellent &, not to be underplayed, he could explain to Cook why the media are saying what they are.

    I'm beginning to persuade myself on this, so maybe I should stop here.

  • Nutcutlet on June 26, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    2nd post: something else on Cook's overladen plate is his handling of his front-line seamers. He's bowling them in overlong spells. Six overs each from Jimmy and Broad is the max that should be asked of them. Anyne can see why he's overbowling them - because he thinks that they give him the most chance of control. One of the things that Cook's really hung up on is a rising scoring rate; his MO in the field is attempting to stem the runs and then hoping something good happens, like a nicking off. His 'handling' of Mathews was inept in the extreme, but makes my point. Michael Clarke uses Mitch Johnson in very short spells, usually four overs. And he doesn't worry about a rate of 4 rpo. Stauss never tried anything extraordinary; his methods were sound, not especially inspiring, but he looked after his bowlers rather than bowling any one or two into the ground. And if Cook pleads,' But he had Swann and I don't', then the selectors need to find a stock, 20 over spell replacement sharpish.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 26, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    I'm not going to argue with the scoring as it's quite arbitrary at the best of times. Batting: certainly pleasing signs from most of the batsmen, be they new or veterans; always said Root belongs in the middle order with Bell, but even there neither player capitalised enough after decent starts from either the top order or getting in themselves. Cook's struggles continued big time, & I hope he can bounce back & wish him the best of luck.

    Bowling: as I predicted before the series, it was a case of too much grunt & hostility in certain cases; negative but economical in others; bot overall, just not enough strike! I'm not saying a bowling unit must be able to come out and decimate opponents in one session; I just think smarter, better-laid strategies are needed + a decent back-up plan if it all goes to pot. This short-pitched garbage has been going on for far too long, and on a pitch where it's obvious the ball should be pitched up, it was frustrating to see. Need a spinner too please.

  • Nutcutlet on June 26, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    Re: England's next spinner, it wouldn't surprise me to see Adam Riley fast-tracked over the course of the rest of the summer. His reputation and figures are improving all the time. Clearly, Kent prefer him to Tredwell who's migrated to Sussex; they must know what they're doing. I would prefer him to Kerrigan, Briggs and most certainly Borthwick who has moved status from a batting allrounder to a batsman who bowls occasionally. Being a leggie is not auspicious in matches v India anyway. Well though Ali has performed as a part-time spinner promoted to plug a hole, he should only be used as a backup to the main act. Cook has a great deal on his plate that includes England's dilatory over-rate and having a long-spell spinner in the Swann mode is a must if the captain isn't to receive match bans (although that might concentrate the selectors' minds about finding a more inspiring and competent skipper!). For the first Test v Ind, I see Jordan as 12th man with Stokes returning in his place.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 26, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    @Phil Robins, strange on another board people where touting Chris Read at Notts for the same reasons, the biggest issue with both these players is age, they are 34+ and so have a very limited playing time available, and I've seen nothing in either of there stats that makes them a credible option for either position, Chris read has a couple of pluses as captain, while Foster doesn't, afterall what has he done with Essex, who are languishing at 7th in the CC2.

  • on June 26, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    To say there are no alternatives to Matt Prior is ludicrous. Foster of Essex should have been there long ago and could even replace Cook as Captain. Cook then might be able to concentrate on hiss batting.

  • southstoke49 on June 26, 2014, 6:43 GMT

    If I was a selector the concerns would be some of the senior players retained from last year, the lack of a full time spinner and captaincy: Bell-not good enough as a senior player. Ok to feed off others but not in the same league as Sangakarra or Jayawardina and not strong enough to base the batting around. Needs someone more dynamic. Prior-still looks like he is continuing his form from last year and can get bounced out. Time to move on. Spinner: Is Ali a spinner or batsman and why was Root not used at Headingly? I thought he was the other part timer. Agree there is little alternative to Cook and ECB have staked too much on him to go back now unless poor results continue. Will be interesting to see what happens after India tests. I thought we would beat SL and then struggle v India so does not really bode well.

  • notimeforcricket on June 26, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    We went into the series with 6 young, returning or debuting players (Robson, Balance, Root, Ali, Plunket, Jordan). Only Jordan had a shaky time and even he had some good moments. Despite the loss (which, as Cook rightly stated was basically 1 bad day) there are many positive signs. it could have gone the other way quite easily had England got 1 more wicket in the first match and Jimmy had batting with his hands on the floor in the last over of the 2nd. disappointing of course but the myth that people cannot step up from country cricket to test cricket is largely shattered, albeit that facing Steyn of Johnson is a slightly different proposition. Hard not to feel sorry for Carberry. Realistically, I suspect this team would have fared no better in Aus during the Winter!

  • YorkshirePudding on June 26, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz, I don't think anyone can blame Ali for not getting SL out with his spin, its more that he isn't a front line attacking spinner, hes a bastman who can bowl a bit of spin, just like root.

    Just look at his FC stats, 170 wickets from 116 games, then consider Swann 256 FC games and 700+ wickets. That's the point most are making. I would look at replacing Jordan with a full time spinner, either bring back Kerrigan, or look towards Rashid or Briggs, the Rashid has 340 wickets off 125 FC games, an Briggs has 155 off 53 FC games. They're could be a foils for Moeens part time spin (Rashid a leggie, and Briggs a Left Arm Orthodox).

  • YorkshirePudding on June 26, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    @Westmorlandia, I do agree that the score for Root is a little harsh, especially considering the state of the game at the start of the final da, with a Boycott/Tavere style that must have had the former cooing with joy in the TMS box. The fact that he shut up shop for 108 deliveries, should give him extra points, without his and Moeens innings England the game would have been over by midmorning.

    In regards to cook I keep asking the question, of the media, they say he should go but never suggest an alternative, either with in the squad or externally, and until the put up they should shut up about cook.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on June 26, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    @yorkshire-86 I don't disagree with most of your views on the marks but I think it's a bit harsh to lay the blame on Ali for not getting SL out with his spin. Maybe he could have finished the job in both tests if, for example, Cook actually gave him a bowl. Good spinners take a lot of overs to get their wickets, they generally go for less runs per over but take more overs to do the job. Ali never had that opportunity. Why? Well, we all know who to blame for that.

  • on June 26, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    Come India, same team will look like world champions. With only 3 dependable batsman (Pujara, Kohli and Dhoni), it is doubtful whether India can cross 250 in any innings. With only Bhuvi and Shami being bowlers worth speaking about, I am sure Alaistair Cook will look like a combination of Rahul Dravid and Viv richards and England will consistantly declare their first innings. Expect a 5-0 victory for England, Unless rain intervenes in a major way.

  • Westmorlandia on June 26, 2014, 2:25 GMT

    I'm more optimistic about this England side than many seem to be. I think some people just really like to have a moan, so when a decent opportunity comes up they really, really go for it.

    But in 2 games we registered 4 centuries (including a double), which is 4 times as many as we got in 5 games in Australia. And our bowling was decent. We just had too many lapses, failing to close out the first test and slipping in the second, and Sri Lanka rightly took advantage.

    On the specifics, I think 6 is a bit hard on Rooty - top scorer, after all, with that double-century - you would think that's a bit better than mediocre, no? Go on - give him a 7 at least. You can swap him for Broad, who wasn't as good as Anderson and bowled well at times without really firing.

  • Robster1 on June 26, 2014, 1:51 GMT

    Cheerio Cook - quality test batsman, but as we all know absolutely not a natural leader. Time for England to look outside the current set up for a proven leader. And yes, also time for Stokes to come back into the side. Don't think I'm alone in believing that Jordan isn't ready for test level.

  • on June 26, 2014, 0:49 GMT

    agree Michael. -1 should be fine.

  • ballsintherightareas on June 25, 2014, 23:49 GMT

    So who to pick to play India?

    1. Select based on long-term performance. Look at any player's record - there is a lot of variation year to year. You can only make an accurate prediction of future performance by looking at at least 3 years.

    2. Do you have a spinner who can take wickets with a low average in any innings of a match, whatever the surface? If so, pick him and your three best quicks. If not, then pick your five best quicks.

    3. Pick bowlers for their bowling performances only. Look at batting and fielding performance if you're picking between two with the same bowling average.

    4. Pick your best keeper and fill remaining slots with your best batsmen.

    5. Favour players who have experienced playing overseas with the Lions.

    So based on these principles and bowling/batting records, you'd have to go for: Cook Robson Bell Root Ballance Taylor Prior Woakes Stokes Broad Kerrigan

  • regofpicton on June 25, 2014, 23:09 GMT

    Root's average of 86.33 is only worth a 6? hardly generous. But perhaps he got marks deducted for kicking the hornets nest . . .

  • yorkshire-86 on June 25, 2014, 22:25 GMT

    Prior only got 4 despite being the 3rd highest averaging batsmen (and if 14 catches in 2 games is a 'wretched' series what do you need for a good series), and Broad got 7 despite a TERRIBLE series where he averaged 18 with the bat and 34 with the pill? That looks wrong. Also Ballance 8 Root 6? Root averaged more, scored more, and lasted longer when we were trying for a draw in the 2nd test. Moeen Ali was in as the main spinner - games are won by spin as shown up by the fact we drew a game we should have won and lost one we should have at least drawn - when fast bowlers become fodder spin becomes your main weapon and we did not have that, we had Ali - a guy who averages over 40 in D2 is simply not good enough. And finally, Cook a 3? What did he get those 3 points for?

  • on June 25, 2014, 22:20 GMT

    england cricket in general.....not just the captain.....is woefully pathetic and has been so and will be so for many years

  • on June 25, 2014, 21:40 GMT

    Considering they've gone through three different opening partners for Cook, it can hardly be said there's no viable contenders to replace him. Though I don't think that should happen whatsoever nor do I think there's a snowballs chance in hell it will.

    Cook really needed to put faith in Ali as a bowler, if only because they desperately need him to be a good bowler, more than they do for him to be an all rounder. They've got Ben Stokes coming back in having just got a 7fer. If Stokes and Ali play, they can afford to bring in a specialist wicketkeeper. Something to consider.

  • 2MikeGattings on June 25, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    Ali is going to have to do more bowling or the seamers will be worn into the ground by Kohli and friends. Over the last 2 years Anderson is running out of steam earlier and earlier in the series. There is a case for rotating the seamers - hopefully the likes of Stokes, Finn, and Onions can force their way into contention.

  • Aussiesfalling on June 25, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    Prior 4th in England series batting averages, averaging 46 compared to a career average of 41 - no sign of batting decline. 4 years younger than Haddin - at 32 unlikely to be in decline.

  • bemUSed2 on June 25, 2014, 20:07 GMT

    In my humble opinion all of these marks are too high. The cold hard facts are that England lost a series to a Sri Lankan team that were admirable in their courage but should never have come close to the home team. It doesn't matter that both tests were desperately close, England under performed and this is something their players, supporters and even George Dobell need to recognise.

  • rizwan1981 on June 25, 2014, 20:03 GMT

    A century at the top of the order is much harder than in the middle order - Ballance and Robson should be rated much higher than Ali or Root.

  • shillingsworth on June 25, 2014, 19:40 GMT

    The comments on Anderson are meaningless. He made negligible contributions in the last two tests England won. They were clearly not that 'reliant upon his excellence' and, even so, it would be rather odd if a bowler with 350 test wickets were not an important part of any team. Anyone who saw his bowling at Chester le Street last year or at times during the winter would not be particularly 'shocked' by his display at Headingley - even the best have off days.

  • Batmanian on June 25, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    It's a good argument for nice long Test series - the averages are pretty meaningless (Root's, obviously, but Anderson's too). SL and England should be two Tests into a four Test series, to be followed by another four or five with India. Play the short form stuff with different squads simultaneously, preferably in Sharjah.

  • Hardy1 on June 25, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    Fair ratings & while it was a bad defeat, don't forget England could easily have won the series 1-0. No need to panic, all the inexperienced players did well (Jordan aside, but he showed potential in the ODI series) & there are many other options in county cricket including Woakes, Stokes, Finn & Onions.

    Cook has the India series to find some form & if/when he does that the captaincy issues will go away. Otherwise he'll have to be dropped & Bell made captain until Cook proves his worth in country cricket. What's worrying is he's played well domestically recently but couldn't transfer that to the Sri Lanka series, which tells me it's very much psychological.

    The other issues - persist with Moeen as the spinner, he needs a chance at least, but accept he'll never be Swann. Prior too should play the India series but again, drop him if he's not up to it. The key for me is for the team to stay positive 'cos there's a lot of aggro around the England team at the moment.

  • on June 25, 2014, 17:27 GMT

    Alastair Cook got 3 out of 10? In my opinion that is 3 marks too many.

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  • on June 25, 2014, 17:27 GMT

    Alastair Cook got 3 out of 10? In my opinion that is 3 marks too many.

  • Hardy1 on June 25, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    Fair ratings & while it was a bad defeat, don't forget England could easily have won the series 1-0. No need to panic, all the inexperienced players did well (Jordan aside, but he showed potential in the ODI series) & there are many other options in county cricket including Woakes, Stokes, Finn & Onions.

    Cook has the India series to find some form & if/when he does that the captaincy issues will go away. Otherwise he'll have to be dropped & Bell made captain until Cook proves his worth in country cricket. What's worrying is he's played well domestically recently but couldn't transfer that to the Sri Lanka series, which tells me it's very much psychological.

    The other issues - persist with Moeen as the spinner, he needs a chance at least, but accept he'll never be Swann. Prior too should play the India series but again, drop him if he's not up to it. The key for me is for the team to stay positive 'cos there's a lot of aggro around the England team at the moment.

  • Batmanian on June 25, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    It's a good argument for nice long Test series - the averages are pretty meaningless (Root's, obviously, but Anderson's too). SL and England should be two Tests into a four Test series, to be followed by another four or five with India. Play the short form stuff with different squads simultaneously, preferably in Sharjah.

  • shillingsworth on June 25, 2014, 19:40 GMT

    The comments on Anderson are meaningless. He made negligible contributions in the last two tests England won. They were clearly not that 'reliant upon his excellence' and, even so, it would be rather odd if a bowler with 350 test wickets were not an important part of any team. Anyone who saw his bowling at Chester le Street last year or at times during the winter would not be particularly 'shocked' by his display at Headingley - even the best have off days.

  • rizwan1981 on June 25, 2014, 20:03 GMT

    A century at the top of the order is much harder than in the middle order - Ballance and Robson should be rated much higher than Ali or Root.

  • bemUSed2 on June 25, 2014, 20:07 GMT

    In my humble opinion all of these marks are too high. The cold hard facts are that England lost a series to a Sri Lankan team that were admirable in their courage but should never have come close to the home team. It doesn't matter that both tests were desperately close, England under performed and this is something their players, supporters and even George Dobell need to recognise.

  • Aussiesfalling on June 25, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    Prior 4th in England series batting averages, averaging 46 compared to a career average of 41 - no sign of batting decline. 4 years younger than Haddin - at 32 unlikely to be in decline.

  • 2MikeGattings on June 25, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    Ali is going to have to do more bowling or the seamers will be worn into the ground by Kohli and friends. Over the last 2 years Anderson is running out of steam earlier and earlier in the series. There is a case for rotating the seamers - hopefully the likes of Stokes, Finn, and Onions can force their way into contention.

  • on June 25, 2014, 21:40 GMT

    Considering they've gone through three different opening partners for Cook, it can hardly be said there's no viable contenders to replace him. Though I don't think that should happen whatsoever nor do I think there's a snowballs chance in hell it will.

    Cook really needed to put faith in Ali as a bowler, if only because they desperately need him to be a good bowler, more than they do for him to be an all rounder. They've got Ben Stokes coming back in having just got a 7fer. If Stokes and Ali play, they can afford to bring in a specialist wicketkeeper. Something to consider.

  • on June 25, 2014, 22:20 GMT

    england cricket in general.....not just the captain.....is woefully pathetic and has been so and will be so for many years