@Yas_Wisden 3 minute read
After England’s 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka, Yas Rana runs the rule over the 12 players who represented England across the series.
Zak Crawley 2/10
Somewhat of a reality check for the Kent youngster after a breakthrough summer; Crawley fell to Lasith Embuldeniya in all four innings with a top score of just 13. The one bright spot for Crawley was his excellence at short-leg, where he took a couple of sharp catches in Sri Lanka’s second innings of the second Test.
Dom Sibley 5/10
Sibley also had his struggles against Embuldeniya, falling for three single-figure scores to the tall Sri Lankan left-arm spinner. Like Crawley, Sibley appeared to get too square-on to Embuldeniya, keeping the cordon in play, but he bounced back in the final innings of the series, calmly guiding England home with a composed half-century.
Jonny Bairstow 6/10
With the openers finding life difficult at the top, Bairstow’s rescue acts at No. 3 were vital interventions. A proficient player of spin, Bairstow had the ability to swing the momentum in England’s favour with his cocktail of sweeps and reverse-sweeps. He played crucial hands in both nervy run chases, but will rue not making the most of his starts in both first innings. England will miss Bairstow in the first two Tests of the India series.
Joe Root 9.5/10
Back-to-back daddy hundreds laid the platform for both wins. Root, who has always been a good player of spin, was at his sublime best, equally adept in defence and attack, giving his inexperienced top-order teammates a blueprint for success in Asia. Root’s 2-0 with the ball in the last Sri Lanka innings of the series came at a welcome time, just as the hosts’ ninth wicket stand looked to be batting England out of the game.
Dan Lawrence 6/10
An assured debut was followed by a quieter Test second time round. His 73 was arguably trumped by the calm manner with which he negotiated England through a nightmare start to their run chase on the fourth evening of the first Test. A sterner test awaits him in India but it’s one that he looks up for.
Jos Buttler 7/10
Another encouraging series for Buttler whose place in the side is arguably as assured as it’s ever been in Test cricket. Like Root, Buttler showed his prowess against spin, with his 46* in the second Test run-chase more important than the final scorecard might suggest.
Sam Curran 4/10
Picked up a handful of key breakthroughs in the first Test – most notably the wicket of centurion Lahiru Thirimanne with the second new ball – but looked more innocuous in the second, particularly when employed in the Neil Wagner-esque role of the enforcer. Two failures extended what is now a prolonged fallow period with bat in Test cricket. On current form, No. 7 looks at least one spot too high for Curran.
Dom Bess 7/10
An odd series for Bess. Gifted a five-for in the first innings of the series, Bess’ control progressed in the first Test as he got more overs under his belt. Picked up a crucial four-wicket haul in Sri Lanka’s second innings of the series finale and provided his skipper valuable support with the bat in the first innings.
Jack Leach 7/10
After a difficult 2020 Leach offered a timely reminder of his ability, even if his control was often not as tight as it has been in the past. Looked concerningly easy to target by Lasith Embuldeniya – Sri Lanka’s No.10, who had a first-class best of 26 before the series – but, overall, an encouraging return to Test cricket.
Mark Wood 5/10
Bowled his heart out on a pair of docile tracks, providing the crucial breakthrough of a well-set Dinesh Chandimal in the first innings of the second Test. He will rarely, if ever, bowl on pitches as slow as the ones he encountered in Sri Lanka again in his Test career.
Stuart Broad 9/10
Impeccable in his sole outing of the series showing that even at 34, he’s still striving for improvement. His 3-20 set the tone for a spectacular Sri Lanka collapse, before his 0-14 off 17 overs in the second innings stifled the flow of runs with great effect in the second.
James Anderson 10/10
A truly extraordinary performance from Anderson in the second Test, where took the best figures by a seamer aged 38 or over in Test cricket for 107 years. Given the form of Anderson and Broad, it may be wise for England to field both of them whenever possible in 2021, rather than one or the other.