Sri Lanka A v England Lions, 1st unofficial Test, Pallekele, 3rd day

Woakes forgoes century in victory hunt

Alex Winter in Pallekele

February 14, 2014

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Sri Lanka A 171 and 161 for 5 require a further 315 runs to beat England Lions 330 and 319 for 8 dec (Woakes 92*, Borthwick 64)

Chris Woakes leads Lions victory push

Team spirit is top of the zeitgeist this year. England were depicted as a divided side during their Ashes whitewash and togetherness and playing for the team have been key phrases behind England's rebuilding blueprint and the purpose of dismissing Kevin Pietersen. Greed is not good.

But England Lions are one happy band of brothers, all sweating in the Sri Lankan dust in the quest of international cricket and improving the national game. They must be. Why else would Chris Woakes trot off the field, eight short of an eighth first-class century?

It would have been a fitting end for Woakes, who punched and nudged his way to spitting distance of three figures, to have brought up a century as skipper. He ensured the Lions slipped away from danger and set a target far out of sight for Sri Lanka A. For the last quarter of his innings he was in superb touch, strong on the drive and skipping down the wicket to lift Tharindu Kaushal over mid-off to take him into the 90s.

But on 92 not out and on course for a second first-class century in four innings, Woakes's partner, Scott Borthwick, ran past a delivery from Kaushal and was stumped. He walked off and Woakes went with him. England had declared. Woakes had declared. His hundred didn't matter. It was more beneficial for Tymal Mills to keep his pads off. Team spirit. One for all d'Artagnan (here played by Sussex coach Mark Robinson).

Borthwick delighted with Woakes partnership

The pair left the ground together. They had steered the Lions away from trouble with a stand of 155 for the seventh wicket. Their position had been edgy at 138 for 6 when Niroshan Dickwella took his second catch of the morning from the bowling of Dhammika Prasad. But Woakes and Borthwick dashed any lingering hopes the hosts had of a reachable target.

It was an obvious point at which to declare but with four-and-a-half sessions left in the match and the Sri Lankan order, on evidence of the first innings, more unstable than a Pallekele pavement, there was time for Woakes's century. It would not have been greedy on his behalf, it would have been a moment the team could have shared. First-class centuries are precious things.

The declaration brought a glimpse of a three-day victory and again England struck immediately. For the Lions to get the most out of this tour, their opposition needs to be far more competitive with the bat. International innings on the subcontinent are rarely finished before the second new ball is due - at least when seamers do most of the bowling. A long spell in the field would be beneficial and, on this evidence, Sri Lanka A will struggle to provide it.

Chris Woakes lifted Warwickshire ahead with his second first-class hundred, Warwickshire v Hampshire, County Championship, Division One, Edgbaston, April 28, 2010
Chris Woakes declared with his century in sight © Getty Images

This time Graham Onions bowled the opening over. The third ball, a back of a length delivery a foot outside off, was punched off the back foot by Udara Jaysundera, getting a thick outside edge between third slip and gully for four. Onions went fuller with the fifth ball and the batsman greedily drove without moving his feet and edged to first-slip.

Upal Tharanga played an even worse stroke. Woakes slid a delivery across him just back of a length, Tharanga swiped at it from the crease and Scott Borthwick held a smart catch above his head at second slip. Both openers played hideously irresponsibly. A target of 479 was a nominal one but the hosts need to ensure their futures are not hindered by a weak showing in this series. Perhaps Tharanga has no more future in international cricket.

But Madhawa Warnapura put in a display fitting of a top order player at this level. He was organised and left well, brave against Tymal Mills too. Chatharunga de Silva again played a classy innings and England's celebrations at his wicket were indicative of the respect they have for him.

Borthwick was given a bowl for the first time in the match, just a handful of overs in the last half-hour, and performed well. He beat the edge twice, asked several questions of Warnapura outside off stump and bowled two full tosses that were whacked over mid-on; it was standard fare from a talented, developing leggie.

But it was again Moeen Ali who delivered. He changed to the Media Centre End and had de Silva sharply held by James Taylor at short leg. Five wickets were left for the morrow.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 17, 2014, 11:40 GMT)

@CricketingStargazer on (February 15, 2014, 11:03 GMT) No - just because England got the results doesn't make me wrong. From the position England were in from end of day 2 onwards it would have taken a major catastrophe to lose the game from there. What Strauss did with his overcautious nature was to give Australia a more realistic chance of saving the game. That they didn't was due to the skill of our bowlers. Some with Cook in the 2nd home test vs NZ.

Those decisions were no better than Trescothick's vs Warwicks early last season and BMac's vs Eng in the 3rd test in NZ - both decisions costing their sides likely wins. In fairness I think Bmac got carried away with batting as he (despite being captain) was called in by someone else when it was his decision to make. Just because the end result works out well does not mean it's a correct decision.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (February 15, 2014, 13:43 GMT)

@jonesy2isaBigot on (February 15, 2014, 9:39 GMT), sometimes it seems to me that the laws of physics don't apply to cricket. All this talk of "bowling a heavy ball" and "hitting the pitch hard" is frankly a complete crock. All it boils down to is whether a bowler is actually faster than their action suggests, e.g. Tim Bresnan. According to the laws of physics, if two bowlers release the ball at the same velocity and angle, each will hit the pitch with exactly the same amount of hardness. It's a fact.

Posted by CodandChips on (February 15, 2014, 13:30 GMT)

@Arthursashes nice theory but dont forget last year dry summer & new drainage systems lead to ridiculously dry pitches. For keepers consider Steven Davies.

Posted by ArthursAshes on (February 15, 2014, 13:15 GMT)

I hope that Moeen Ali gets his chance for England this summer. If they decide to go for 4 pace bowlers and a support spinner, then the question is whether they pick someone like Panasar or Kerrigan as a specialist, or go with someone who brings a better all around game, but is developing as a spinner. I'd put Ali ahead of Borthwick right now in that category. His bowling looks to be improving. Borthwick on the other hand is still a little loose for Test cricket.

If the wickets favour the pace bowlers then there is no point picking a specialist spinner who might not get a bowl and offers nothing as a bat and can't field either, might as well go for an all rounder type, after all, that's the way Swann started. Spots 6 to 11 of Ali, Stokes, wk (Prior, Butler, Bairstow, other?), Bresnan (Woakes?), Broad and Anderson. Looks decent enough for home Tests that may suit traditional English seam and bats deep which may be needed given the top 5 mess and absence of KP.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 12:19 GMT)

Loved Moeen's contribution to the game. Not massive scoring but good aggressive batting, attacking line with the ball and great fielding. He's done his T20 wc chances a world of good.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 15, 2014, 11:12 GMT)

I think that the biggest recognition of Andrew Strauss as a captain and a strategist was the generalized opinion after the 2006/07 Ashes: the selectors picked the wrong captain - we probably would have lost even had he been captain, but it would not have been 5-0 and we would most certainly not have lost at Adelaide. In 2009 he took over a side that had suffered humiliation after humiliation since 2006 and, alongside Andy Flower, made them into ruthless winners.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 15, 2014, 11:03 GMT)

Thing is @JG2704, he won time and again because he employed the Australian strategy of hammering the opposition until they lost the will to resist. That is not cautious: it is ruthless. You back your side to destroy the opposition. Strauss was far more ruthless than any other England captain that I have seen of recent vintage and that includes Michael Vaughan, although I would rate him as a more inspired captain, at least initially, capable of making something of nothing in the way that Mike Brearley managed to.

And yes, as you point out, he was right and you were wrong... he made the correct call and England did win. Had the rain saved Australia there would be reasonable grounds to criticize. Maybe if he had played it your way England would have lost... we will never know.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 10:59 GMT)

There were 7 LBWs against England Lions batsmen out of 18 wickets ,6 of those LBWs being of top order batsmen In contrast there were 2 LBWs against Sri Lanka A batsmen out of 20 wickets, of which 1 was number 11 batsman. Mind boggles!!!

Posted by JG2704 on (February 15, 2014, 9:57 GMT)

@CS - CTD - Sometimes results are maintained despite poor captaincy decisions - such as this result and Eng just managing to get enough time to bowl NZ out in the 2nd inns last year. Sometimes poor captaincy can cost a team a win - NZ vs Eng 3rd test and Somerset vs Warwicks early 2013.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 15, 2014, 9:54 GMT)

@CS - My thoughts re Strauss come from what I'VE seen of him.My example was in the Ashes series in Aus of 10/11 when IMO England batted on too long in the 1st inns.Why was it necessary to get a 375 1st inns lead at the expense of time to bowl the Aussies out? The weather was set to rain at some point in the 4th day and it could have been mid morning or mid afternoon.Australia entered the 5th day 4 wickets down with 2 of their form guys Hussey and North at the crease. As it happened the bowlers polished the Aus tail off in 20 overs (just before lunch) but within an hour of the lunch break it was said that the heavens opened for the rest of the day. It ended ok but had the Aus lower 6 survived another hours cricket (making about 3 hours in total) they would have drawn the game. The series was 0-0 at the time.If Eng had declared 100 or so runs earlier it would have taken a freak set of circumstances compared to what it would have taken for Aus to hold out for the draw

Posted by markatnotts on (February 15, 2014, 9:39 GMT)

@moaningmike, it is not so much the speed out of the hand that is the problem but the fact it looks to me like he is floating it up there. Essentially he doesn't hit the pitch hard enough for a c82 mph bowler. The examples you mention all do or did hit the pitch harder.

Posted by moaningmike on (February 15, 2014, 0:07 GMT)

I don't buy the argument that Woakes is not quick enough to take wickets in Test cricket. Vernon Philander trundles in at around 80mph and was recently rated No 1 in the world. All-out pace is all very well, but is not necessarily the answer as England discovered in Australia. There is a lot to be said for bowlers of the Woakes/Cork/Fraser type as long as they are accurate enough and consistently move the ball around whether off the seam or in the air.

Posted by markatnotts on (February 14, 2014, 22:37 GMT)

Interesting discussions here. Quite rightly we will miss Swann more than KP. Now England won't have a classical attacking spinner for a while, it is pragmatic to look for an allrounder bolstering a four man bowling attack. My hunch is with Stokes for greater pace than Woakes (or indeed just hitting the pitch harder) backed up by three quicks and a specialist spinner. Kerrigan deserves another chance. Forget Borthwick, leg spin at the highest level is only of use with far greater control than he currently has!

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 22:32 GMT)

CodandChips - I think you are a bit harsh on Stokes, this tests came in a series where England were being outplayed in every department. He was the only man to make three figures and against a Australia attack which looks unstoppable at the moment.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 14, 2014, 22:08 GMT)

@JG2704 I wish people wouldn't trot out that line about Andrew Strauss being an over-cautious captain. He wasn't. He was the best one that we have had since Michael Vaughan took over from Nasser Hussain. The whole "defensive captaincy" thing started because in 2009, in a high-scoring series, he refused - correctly - to set the West Indies 180 to win in a full day by making a suicidal declaration when he was 2 bowlers short.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 14, 2014, 21:15 GMT)

@JG2704 I second the point about Stokes. Bar one innings and one bowling spell, his returns were as mediocre as anyone's. However, that century certainly massages the lack of runs in in other innings (almost half his runs came in just that one innings) and his bowling was frequently expensive (apart from the 6-99 at Sydney, his best effort was 2-62 and he was going at well over 4 an over through the series and rarely could he be trusted with long spells).

He did turn it on in one batting and one bowling innings out of eight, which was better than most of the rest, but still nothing special.

He has masses of potential, but he is not the Messiah (although he could well develop into a top-class international all-rounder): we saw in the ODIs afterwards where he managed to lose one match single-handed, that he is far from the finished article.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 14, 2014, 20:53 GMT)

@Codandchips I simply can't agree with such a pessimistic assessment. It may be that it will take a couple of years for one of the spinners to mature, but there are some very good ones around. It seems to be hip to condemn Kerrigan as useless, but he has turned it on for several seasons now and has been taking bucketloads of wickets: what people forget is that last winter we were being warned that he was still too immature for international cricket and what happened at The Oval proved it in spades. In two years time he will be a ready.

It would only take one of Briggs, Borthwick, Rayner, or even Adil Rashid (who took 29, albeit expensive, wickets last season) to develop. For now, we have a bowler like James Tredwell who, although not in Swann's class, is very much underrated and has shown in ODIs just how good he is, with a far better ODI record than Swann over the last 18 months.

There are very few class spin bowlers in world cricket. I'm not panicking for now about our lack of one.

Posted by CodandChips on (February 14, 2014, 20:06 GMT)

@JG2704 agree completely we'll miss Swann more than KP. Currently we have quite a brigade of talented young batsmen; granted non are as destructive/talented as KP, but are surely more consistent. The spin cupboard however looks pretty bare- hopefully Kerrigan, Borthwick and Moeen Ali can do a job in tests between them (Borthwick only when in conditions requiring 2 spinners).

Posted by JG2704 on (February 14, 2014, 19:24 GMT)

@Nicholas Mayo on (February 14, 2014, 15:30 GMT) I think Woakes stats in 2012 were better than last year. I kind of agree with CodAndChips that Stokes looks better due to the failure of others.Have also said that I think we'll miss Swann more than KP.

@jackiethepen on (February 14, 2014, 16:54 GMT) Would still always prefer a player/captain to put the team's success before individual milestones and I'd hope most players would put team success over individual milestones.I recall that the SL win was never really on but SL just collapsed and Strauss was always over cautious as a captain and we had so much success because of players doing the biz more than top captaincy.Not sure if a declaration was really on in that game anyway. Having said that I think (re Hick) there should have been communication between Atherton and him but I wonder if it also may have had something to do with Atherton's mischievous sense of humour?

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 18:57 GMT)

Number six is the most vulnerable position in any team but if you can bat, bowl, captain and play for the team you're going to take some shifting. If England don't pick him I'll just keep picking him for fantasy county cricket...

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 18:53 GMT)

Woakes bowling will not penertrate test batting line ups as is proven in South Africa: Only Mitchell Johnson who is express has taken easy wickets and the others are not slow. Morkel is almost as quick but in the state of the game he's finding that harder. Stokes will be and should be first choice. England's issue is relying too much on their seamers and not trusting their spinner. Unless you've got a gun allrounder like Kallis, Flintoff, Botham, Sobers etc, your spinner always bowls before them unless its completely seaming conditions. So Woakes maybe got used wrong but Stokes has something impressive about him so I back him. Borthwick should get another go and Onions plays ahead of Bresnan every time and Finn plays ahead of both of them. Moen Ali, James Taylor and Mills also deserve to be considered. Time to buck up our ideas and get tough

Posted by CodandChips on (February 14, 2014, 17:51 GMT)

Also I doubt Stokes is an automatic selection. His performances in Aus were overstated. In tests he averages more with ball than bat. Woakes had better county stats but Stokes was picked due to suiting Aus conditions, so all staying equal surely Woakes should play in England. Also Stokes had a full county season, a month off, an ashes tour, then WI and WT20. He deserves/needs a rest- look what's happened to Root.

We shouldn't read too much into just 1 lions test match, just like we shouldn't overstate Stokes' ashes tour. But it appears we have not too bad a crop of young allrounders coming through. I'm not expecting another Kallis, or even a Botham, but a Flintoff wouldn't be too bad.

Posted by CodandChips on (February 14, 2014, 17:49 GMT)

Good to see the young allrounders performing.

Not sure about the "greed" and KP reference. Needs clarification please.

As I said yesterday, a solid tour here and Woakes should play the first test this summer, while Stokes gets a rest.

Stokes bowls quicker than Woakes, and bats more aggressively. Woakes bowls with more control than Stokes but lacks penetration. Woakes appears a more consistent bat than Stokes. Stokes has done better in his brief test career than Woakes. Woakes has played his ODI career as a bowler, and has done OK imo. Stokes' ODI career has been abysmal, but I think he's the best we've got other than the injured Willey, or perhaps Chris Wood, as an allrounder in white-ball cricket. Woakes seems the more complete cricketer, whereas Stokes seems more bits-and-pieces. Stokes seems like he's more comfortable at international level.Stokes has improved his bowling at the expense of his batting, whereas Woakes went the other way.

Posted by jackiethepen on (February 14, 2014, 16:54 GMT)

The sacking of Kevin Pietersen was nothing to do with 'greed'. So why on earth suggest that it was? KP spoke up once too often perhaps but entirely justified given the context of the Ashes shambles. As for Woakes poor decision not to bat on and get your ton. Lead by example as captain. Selflessness is all very well but it doesn't bode well for the other players. Would he cut them off so near to a century in order to declare? Famously Atherton did that to Hick on 98*. Famously Strauss did not do that to Bell on 98* and the team went on to bowl Sri Lanka out in a couple of hours to an unlikely victory. Atherton didn't win his game.

Posted by FreddyForPrimeMinister on (February 14, 2014, 16:52 GMT)

Although a Lanky, I'm a huge fan of Woakes and have followed his progress for the last couple of years, amazed that his FC stats haven't earned him more of a chance for England. The "must bowl at 90mph" mentality surely went out with the ark - McGrath, Pollock, Vilander and of course Jimmy have rarely bowled above 84-85mph and all with significant success. Woakes' batting just needs more exposure at the top level to develop his confidence. I like Nicholas Mayo's proposed team though would pick Kerrigan above Borthwick - he's a far better bowler and with the strength in depth of the rest of the batting, Borthwick's additional runs hopefully won't be so necessary Keep going Mr Woakes, your time will soon come!

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 16:50 GMT)

Excellent game so far from Woakes, just need some big scores from the other batsmen to really push their cases for selection into the Test team, well all except Robson that is...

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 16:24 GMT)

cant see woakes bowling cutting it at test level. Especially as Stokes will get first shot at all rounders role. Moen Ali? think its a stigma playing Div 2 these days, So Borthwick looks best to step up, quite certain however that Onions will get a chance in home series.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 15:30 GMT)

JG2704 - I agree with you I am a big fan of Woakes, on selecting him in 2012 - at that time his batting wasn't as developed as it is now for example still batted outside the top 6 for Warks which isn't the mark of an international batting all rounder.

Hopefully he will bat in the top 5 for his county this season, I would love England to give him the tests against Sri Lanka. Something like - 1 Cook 2 Root 3 Bell 4 Ballance 5 Morgan 6 Woakes 7 Prior 8 Stokes 9 Borthwick 10 Board 11 Anderson. They have 5 bowling options with a test centurion batting at number 10

Posted by JG2704 on (February 14, 2014, 14:39 GMT)

@Nicholas Mayo on (February 14, 2014, 13:24 GMT) I think Woakes has been unfortunate. For me he should not be judged on any of the shorter formats stuff he's been involved in as he's never been a SF player. Stokes hasn't done it is SF's either. Also if you look at the 2 player's debuts there's not much in it. Stokes took a combined 2-90 in 2 inns and scored 1 and 28 (ave 14.5) , Woakes took 1-96 and scored something like 25 and 17 not out (ave 42) ao neither gugely impressed on debut - Stokes looking better with ball and Woakes better with the bat. I'd still have preferred Woakes to have been selected in 2012 when he was absolutely flying but I hope he will get another opportunity. I think he has to be seen as a batting all rounder these days

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 13:24 GMT)

I think its a shame Woakes didn't go for a hundred, three figure scores always seem to stick in selectors minds longer. With the emergence of Stokes he is really going to have to force his way back in, his stats at domestic level are world class but he has struggled to look convincing in full international colours.

Is he a better bowler than a fully fit Tim Bresnan/Other third seamer? I'm not sure and with England already using a top 6 slot for an all rounder its difficult to find another slot for him. If Stokes looks more like a number 7 at the moment so if he could justify the third seamer slot then maybe Woakes could come in at 6

Posted by PeerieTrow on (February 14, 2014, 12:54 GMT)

Nice one young Woakes. Not only an excellent decision in the context of the match to protect your strike element to do its job, but a very timely message sent to t'management.

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