First thoughts from Sri Lanka

Just in case the title was a bit ambiguous, we’re not actually in Sri Lanka. However, some white-kneed English tourists are, and they’ve just played the first couple of days of their opening tour match. Obviously we’re not so sad or dedicated to provide daily reports on tour matches, but as a few interesting things have come out of it so far, here’s a bit of comment on it:

First off, Stuart Broad fell at the first (as it’s Cheltenham race week, nothing like a few racing metaphors) by not even making it into the lineup. The rosy-cheeked schoolboy apparently tripped on the boundary rope while doing fielding practice before the match and sprained his ankle, because obviously the England team didn’t learn from Glenn McGrath in 2005 that warming up with cricketing paraphernalia lying around is not generally a good idea. After the fall, up went the screens, and the vets had to decide whether or not to put England’s thoroughbred ‘to sleep’, but it seems he passed muster. Evidently the England management have told him not to say anything on his Twitter feed, because his inane chatter has mysteriously dried up. Nevertheless, from the sounds of things it’s not too serious, but if Steve Finn has an incisive second innings, he could get his nose in front.

Alastair Cook scored another relentless hundred, but that’s not even news any more. Ian Bell got another duck – ditto.

Monty lengths clear of Swann – Panesar’s five-for yesterday highlighted the fact that Swann went wicketless. Those watching the form will have noted that Mr Sprinkler has been having a pretty rough time of late. If he gets outbowled again on this tour by Monty, he could have a real problem come the West Indies in May. If England only go with one spinner in this series, Monty could be let loose anyway, as Sri Lanka are mostly right-handers (most unusually for a modern Test side), although they’ll almost certainly play two. Swann is a great spinner, but he needs to start performing like one again.

12 byes, Matt Prior? Sounds a bit many out of a total of 169? If you know me, you know at my spooky ability to jinx cricketers, football teams, indeed pretty much anything you care to mention. Has my article on how much his keeping has improved done the trick again? Hope not. Probably just the heat.

Speaking of which, apparently it’s pretty toasty in Sri Lanka at the moment, not to mention humid. Keith Fletcher notably said ‘It’s very nearly too hot here for Europeans to play cricket’, making the weather the scapegoat after England lost to an upstart Sri Lanka side in 1993. Tough luck lads – it’s called home advantage. We doubt that the West Indies particularly enjoyed playing at Chester-le-Street in mid-May in 2009 (and it showed, getting thrashed by an innings), but that’s cricket. It’s tough being at the top and England need to win in all conditions to justify being Number 1.

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