England wide boys need greater control
The second of five one-dayers gets underway in south London tomorrow, at The Oval, with England licking their wounds after Sri Lanka comprehensively outplayed them at Lord's on Saturday. Sri Lanka, buoyed by Upul Tharanga's crisp 120 and impressive performances from Dilhara Fernando and Lasith Malinga, enter the match brimming with confidence. Indeed, Tom Moody, their coach, insists Sri Lanka's best is yet to come.
"We got off to a good start at Lord's," Moody said at The Oval. "It was pleasing. But I felt we should have got 300, and I also felt we can field better than [we did].
"If we win this one-day series, and we've got a long way to go, we'll fly out of England a satisfied team," he said. "It's important to have the young players playing on a regular basis. In the short to mid-term we'll continue to see the benefits like we saw with Upul Tharanga at Lord's."
The one beacon of light to emerge from England's disappointingly limp display on Saturday was the batting of Jamie Dalrymple, playing in his first serious one-dayer (after making his debut against Ireland last week). Dalyrmple bowled tidily during his five-over stint, giving the ball a useful tweak, before attempting to stabilise England's run-chase with a cultured 67.
Speaking after England's practice session at The Oval today, Dalrymple was keen to stress that all is not lost for the home side.
"However Saturday went, is it showed to us that with a lot of new faces around we've got it in us - if we perform to our best - to give the Sri Lankans a run for their money," he said. "That's a positive thing we can definitely hang onto.
"We've got to take care of our own performance and if we can all up our levels a little bit, five or 10% each, then we should put up a very good challenge."
Of most concern to England was the performance of their bowlers who, although they bowled with greater control during the second-half of Sri Lanka's innings, conceded 42 extras and 23 wides. With a margin of defeat of just 20 runs, the sundries handed Sri Lanka a far more comfortable victory than would otherwise have been possible.
"England won the toss and they were eager to make early inroads on a wicket that appeared to have little bit of life in it," Moody said. "There's no doubting the quality of their attack, they had a bad day at the office."
Though Steve Harmison roared in with impressive fire, generating encouraging pace and bounce, he was simply too wayward. Most impressive was Paul Collingwood who conceded just 29 from his ten overs, while picking up the prize scalp of Mahela Jayawardene.
The sight of Kevin Pietersen practicing his reverse-sweep in the nets today - effectively batting as a left-hander - might thrill the expectant fans, but England would rather a run-a-ball hundred than a crowd-pleasing 40. Indeed, the England coach Duncan Fletcher confirmed that they would likely enter tomorrow with the same team.
"There's a very good chance we'll go in with the same side," he said, "and they've got to go there and put it right."
Tomorrow's match at The Oval starts at 10.45BST.
England (probable) 1 Marcus Trescothick, 2 Andrew Strauss (capt), 3 Ian Bell, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Jamie Dalrymple, 7 Geraint Jones (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Liam Plunkett, 10 Sajid Mahmood, 11 Steve Harmison
Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 6 Russel Arnold, 7 Chamara Kapugedera, 8 Chaminda Vaas, 9 Dilhara Fernando, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan
Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo