SL Development XI v England XI, Colombo, 3rd day March 22, 2012

Patel pushes case for England after Bopara injury

ESPNcricinfo staff

England XI 272 for 4 dec (Trott 101, Strauss 100) and 360 for 6 (Prior 84, Patel 72) beat Sri Lanka Development XI 431 for 6 (Silva 163, Perera 85) and 199 for 4 dec (Perera 90*) by four wickets

England won their second tour match in Sri Lanka against a Development XI by four wickets, overhauling their fourth-innings target at almost a run a ball with encouraging contributions from several members of the batting line-up. Samit Patel, in particular, pressed his case by scoring 72 and may have pushed himself ahead of Ravi Bopara in the selectors' thoughts for the first Test against Sri Lanka, which begins on Monday. Bopara made 66 but a side strain picked up earlier in the match means he is unlikely to provide England with a back-up seam option.

There were also half-centuries for Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior but Ian Bell's run of poor form continued. Opening the batting with Pietersen - first-innings centurions Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott sat out the chase to give their team-mates extended practice - Bell made 11 before edging to the wicketkeeper down the leg side. He has now scored just 130 runs at 10.83 from 13 first-class innings in 2012 and could find his place in the Test side under threat. Bopara and Patel, as well as possibly Tim Bresnan, were already vying to replace Eoin Morgan - who was dropped after the Pakistan series in the UAE - but Bell's struggles may open up another slot.

If selected, Bopara's medium-pace will not be an option, however. "Ravi Bopara strained his left side in the first innings and is unlikely to bowl during the Test series," an ECB spokesman said. "He will be available for selection as a specialist batsman."

Although England's bowlers ran through the Sri Lanka Board XI in their first tour match, they struggled this time around, albeit without the services of James Anderson and Monty Panesar. If England stick with their preferred four-man attack, the inclusion of an allrounder will be essential due to the heat and humidity; and Patel, who bowls left-arm spin, proved his form ahead of a potential Test debut with a buccaneering innings.

The Development XI, resuming on 44 for 1 overnight, quickly slipped to 77 for 4, as Bresnan, Graeme Swann and Steven Finn picked up wickets, but, aided by some declaration bowling from Trott and Bell, declared 15 overs later on 199. That set England 359 to win off 64 overs and Pietersen began in aggressive fashion by sending his second and third balls for four. After Bell's dismissal, Bopara was involved in partnerships of 69 with Pietersen - whose 52 came off the same number of balls - and 83 with Prior. The wicketkeeper was particularly dismissive of the Development XI bowling, striking 13 fours and a six in his 60-ball innings.

Thilina Kandamby, captain of the Development XI, said he had not expected England to chase down the target but that Prior's knock was crucial for the tourists.

"Because of Prior's innings we couldn't do anything. He was hitting each and every ball out of the park and that made the difference," he said. "I know as a SSC cricketer that it is not easy to defend a total on this wicket. Up to tea it was OK and they needed to score over 200 runs in around 30 overs. But the innings was changed course by Samit Patel and Matt Prior. They batted very well."

Patel kept the momentum going after Prior's departure for 84 but, having hit two sixes in three overs, he was bowled by Tharanga Lakshitha with 34 still required. That brought Swann to the crease, who perhaps chose to release some of the frustrations of a difficult match with the ball by walloping five fours and a six in the 12 deliveries he faced. Victory was welcome for England, but there were still one or two questions to be answered.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 25, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer - Actually I disagree totally. Surely net form will tell more if it's something technically wrong and it's only when you're out in the middle , when the pressure is on that the mental side comes in to it. I'm not totally on Village Blacksmith's wavelength here but there are similarities with Hick and you could also add that Bell has over the last year or so been playing alongside other guys who have made big runs and often when he has scored his big runs it's been after the likes of Cook,Trott,KP had already set the platform. Re Hoggard , I'd say there are 2 other things to consider. 1 - We have many decent bowlers coming through comp to batsmen 2 - I believe our batsmen get favourable selection treatment comp to our bowlers.

  • Mark on March 25, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    @JG, yiu didn't quite get it, did you? They know from the nets if things really are hopeless. No one is suggesting that net form translates into middle form, only that it gives a really good read on mental state and whether or not a slump in form really is terminal or not. We never see a lot of things that go into selection and they don't get reported. Remember when Matthew Hoggart was dropped after one poor Test in New Zealand? The fans were furious that his career was ended, but the wiser heads kept saying that there must be something more behind it and boy were they right. I'm just suggesting that reading a scorecard doesn't always tell you the full story on a player, particularly on tour where the selection process is much closer to the team.

  • John on March 24, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    Well done pac0pride for your well rounded constructive comments

  • John on March 24, 2012, 22:27 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer on (March 24 2012, 09:10 AM GMT) Maybe , but hitting the ball out of the middle in the nets and doing the same when in the middle are 2 different things. Bell's net form isn't going to help us win anything.

  • Faizan on March 24, 2012, 12:52 GMT


  • Mark on March 24, 2012, 9:10 GMT

    @Zen, we only see the scorecards. The two Andys see Ian Bell in the nets and in the hotel. They know what his mental state is. Sometimes, like in KP's recent run of poor scores, you can see that there is nothing fundamentally wrong and the mentally the batsman is fine and ready to score big at any time. They can also see whether or not he is batting with cofnfidence in the nets: if he can't hit the middle of the bat there, they will know that he ain't gonna do it in a match! They can see if Ian Bell is up for it or not. We can't. So, in or out, it will be based on a lot more than the number of runs in the scorecard in the last match. I don't know what the vibes are here. Most of the correspondants have missed the warm-ups, so very lttle information has come out on the background. My guess is that the problem is more mental than anything. The management will know, if that's the case, whether or not he can get over it. We can pontificate all we like, but we don't have the facts.

  • John on March 24, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    @zenboomerang - Totally agree there. Not sure about whether to go for Finn (who may be likely to take more wickets) or Bresnan (who would likely give more control and possibly add tome tail runs) . I suppose much depends on the pitch and Bres's fitness.

  • John on March 24, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer - Hello. My point is that I agree with JBW in that the last match is extremely unlikely to mirror anything in the series. For a start there's no way they're going to be set such a huge total to get in 2 sessions , 2- the pressure will rise considerably against better bowling on what I hope will be more sporting wickets 3- India did it against a decent bowling attack who on their day could have bowled India out for less than 300. Yes it's better that we managed it but it was hardly a pressure situation as we were never going to get bowled out in 2 sessions on that pitch.

  • Martin on March 24, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    @RandyOZ (March 23 2012, 23:38 PM GMT) You call Swann; the "Most highly overrated player in England". Is that the same Graham Swann who ran through Australia in the 2nd Inns at Lords 2009 (4/87), the same Graham Swann who ran through Australia at the Oval 2009 with match figures of 8/158. Or maybe you are talking about the Graham Swann who ran through Australia at Adelaide in 2010 taking 7/161. 10 times Swann has played Tests against Australia and in 3 of them he has turned in match winning performances. "Overrated", eh? @RandyOZ - you'd better make sure you have some good places to hide ready for next year because boy are you are going to need them. Please publish.

  • Roo on March 24, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    @JG2704 :- "(If) Bell is absolutely shot of form then it seems an ideal time to try 5 bowlers - esp if these are batting friendly wickets"... Oz toured with 5 strike bowlers... I consider Watson (average 28) as a bowler/batman these days... Along with part timers in Clarke & Hussey - they all bowled in SL... England should expect flat pitches... I'd drop Bell & replace with Bresnan/Finn - the top 6 batters should get all the runs you need with Broad, Bresnan, Swann handy in the tail if need be... Oz bowled out SL twice under 200, so can't see England having more difficulties than we did...

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