Yet another one day series, and yet another loss for England, and this time at home as well, with conditions heavily stacked in their favour. England won two games in the series comprehensively, but after having gone 2-1 up in the series with two games to go, they couldn’t maintain the winning momentum. Not many sides allow opponents to recover after having them down on the mat, but England did against Sri Lanka. Having embarrassed them by getting Lanka all out for 67, England went on to themselves lose the series from a dominant position.
Too much hullaballoo is being made by England over the Jos Buttler ‘Mankading’ dismissal. The fact of the matter is that England’s batting in the event was below par, which is what cost them the series they should have won. Buttler got a wonderful century at Lord’s – 121 off 74 balls, but if you take that away, the English batting had nothing to offer. Ian Bell had a strike rate of 94, but he managed only one half-century in the five games. With the wealth of experience at his disposal, England expect a lot better from Bell.
The captain himself failed to lead from the front. While Alastair Cook managed only 98 runs in four innings – 56 of those runs coming one game, his strike rate was unacceptable at 63. To make matters clearer, Cook consumed 154 deliveries for his 98 runs in the series. You will never win a one-day series will figures like those. There wasn’t much on offer from the rest as well. Gary Ballance got one half-century, but failed in the other games and finished the series with a disappointing 121 runs to show. Ballance had a chance to cement his place in the one-day side, but failed to do so.
The other experienced hands in the batting line up also did not impress. Ravi Bopara, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, all had poor series’ with the bat, which only added to England’s woes. Their bowling was a lot more impressive. Chris Jordan stood out with his 12 wickets, including the five-for at Manchester that crushed the Lankan batting. At times, his pace and movement were too much to handle for Lanka’s batsmen. James Tredwell, HF Gurney and James Anderson also made their mark with some penetrative bowling, but their batting undid all the positives.
In contrast, Sri Lanka were consistent both in batting and bowling, aided by England’s poor catching. Kumar Sangakkara got one century, and Tillakaratne Dilshan chipped in with two half-centuries. Skipper Angelo Mathews’ highest score in the series was 42 not out, but he chipped in with crucial contributions in almost every game, and maintained a strike rate of nearly 100. If you look at their bowling figures, Senanayake stood out with 9 wickets, at an economy of under 4. He was well aided by Malinga, Kulasekara and Mathews, who chipped in with key wickets. Overall, Lanka were the better side all-round, and the results reflected the same.
--By A Cricket Analyst