England’s upward trajectory continued in their first Test win over Sri Lanka. The match saw the tourists claiming an emphatic seven-wicket win and means that England are now unbeaten in seven tests. Key moments included Root’s phenomenal 228, along with Dom Bess’ five-wicket demolition of Sri Lanka to leave the home team with a dismal first-innings score of 135.
However, there is still room for improvement in the England side. A mediocre bowling performance in the second innings gave Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope, and England still look uncertain about who should open the batting. So how can England make sure that they continue to improve ahead of February’s much tougher Test series against India?
Another triumph for the Root captaincy
Many cricket fans have voiced their opinions that Joe Root’s captaincy was stopping him from performing his duties with the bat. However, this wasn’t the case at Galle. Root’s magnificent 226 in the first innings was a sight to behold, and it showed that the 30-year old can handle the bat and captaincy at the same time.
Not that it was all about Root. England’s first innings featured an excellent 73 from debutant Dan Lawrence. The 23-year old also showed the calmness necessary to guide England to victory with an unbeaten 21 in the second innings after a typically English top-order wobble.
Then there was that staggering batting collapse in Sri Lanka’s first innings. Their collapse to 135 all out in just a few hours was undoubtedly the result of some astonishingly bad batting. But that would be a discredit to the skill of off-spinner Dom Bess who contributed to Sri Lanka’s first innings misery with figures of 5-30. Plus it’s worth noting that Jack Leach also managed to finish the match with decent bowling statistics of 6-177.
Not that it was a perfect performance from Joe Root’s men. There was the traditional late order collapse, along with numerous examples of bad fielding – Dom Sibley’s pitiful drop of Lahiru Thirimanne being the case in point. Plus with Zak Crawley and Sibley put posting single-figure scores in both innings, it shows that England still need to find decent openers
Despite this, it’s clear that England are on the up. After a series of slow starts to Test series against the likes of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, England look to have finally come out of the blocks in style. Admittedly it was only one game against Sri Lanka, but it looks like England’s Test cricket team are starting to make the grade.
Where do England go from here?
England’s next game is the concluding Test in the two-match series against Sri Lanka. This takes place on Friday 22 January at the Galle International Stadium. Following this, England will travel to India for a gruelling four Test series that runs from 5 February to 8 March.
If England manage not to lose against Sri Lanka in the second Test, it will mean that the side will be unbeaten in ten Tests under the captaincy of Joe Root. This would make England perfectly poised to reach the World Test Championship that’s due to take place at Lord’s this June.
As it stands, England currently lie in fourth place behind India, New Zealand, and the current leaders, Australia. Only the top two sides get to compete in the World Test Championship final. India managed to gain an incredible victory in their recent trip to Australia, and it shows that England have everything to play for in the next couple of months.