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Gladstone Small - Cricket round up Feb 21

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Played 3. Won 3: Not many England cricket teams can boost such an impressive record playing in the sub-continent, so huge congrats and credit must be accorded to Joe Root and his team.

Sri Lanka are not quite the team they once were having lost all their world class players, so those 2 tests were perfect preparations for the more competitive matches ahead in the tour against a highly rated Indian team.

England clearly has a plan: bat long and amass a big total in the first innings, especially if fortunate enough to win toss, and make good use of the ideal batting conditions presented.

Joe Root is a fine batsman, but the past few series though not disastrous, had seen a slight lowering of his high standards and scores. Should he himself ever choose a territory to regain his form and status, then the pitches of Sri Lanka and India would be tops. With nimble footwork, his stroke-play skills allow him to be able to accumulate runs almost at will all around the wicket – with the sweep shot constantly deployed, both conventional and reverse, to disturb any effective spin bowler line and length. Root magnificent double century, his third consecutive century, was a masterpiece of an innings and put his team in a commanding position.

A huge total on the scoreboard, though very handy, is not always a guarantee against a team playing at home in conditions they know well, so a varied and balanced bowling attack is vital to take the 20 wickets required to win.

Jimmy  Anderson is undoubtedly England’s GOAT, and seemingly getting even better. Archer has pace aplenty to scramble minds and body even on the most docile pitches. Stokes, though not looking 100% fit to bowl many overs, always possesses a golden arm. Leach and Bess, the spin twins, struggling for full control and lacking real experience bowling in those favourable conditions, are still capable of producing the odd wicket-taking delivery. That is the luxury of having lots of runs in your favour on a deteriorating pitch, even allowing for a debatable overly cautious declaration.

India are a good team with some wonderful talent: Kolhi is world class, Pujara belligerent, Gill looks a rare talent, Ashwin and Bumrah are high quality bowlers, but have they got the support bowlers to put pressure on England batting that will be surging with confidence.

This England team will keep believing. India will need to find answers to get back into the race.

I expect the rest of this series to be compelling viewing throughout, even for us England fans who have to set an early morning alarm to be up before the birds start chirping.

What a pity we are not allowed to be there to see the action live as it unfolds!

 

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