The third and final test in this one sided test series between England and Sri Lanka was a rather dull affair. It was a test which never seemed to spark into life; the weather affected ending an apt finish to the game.
After Alastair Cook reached the 10,000 run milestone in the last test, his performance was more fluid than previously in this series. It would have been fitting for the captain to amass a century after all the hype surrounding him this series but Cook will have to remain content with a first innings score of 85 before he unselfishly declared whilst on 49* in the second innings. Batting at number 7 was uncharted territory for Cook however England’s main opener adapted well to the role and pressed on well towards the end of the England innings. Cook played some flamboyant strokes in his innings as England looked to press home their advantage and score quickly with strokes more commonly associated with the likes of Hales and Buttler. Even so, the pace of the innings was sluggish considering the match situation on day 4 as England ambled towards a total of 233-7 off 71 overs. England’s innings wasn’t helped by the sluggish start from Compton who unfortunately fell for another insignificant score of 19 before Root (4) and Vince (0) didn’t give the scorers much to do.
This is a match which will perhaps be remembered more for personal milestones rather than the team performance. Bairstow continued in his rich vein of form, amassing an impressive 167* off 406 deliveries at a strike rate of 66, his best score in tests. In doing so, he narrowly missed out on the all time record for an English wicket keeper batsman set by Alec Stewart. However it is surely a matter of time if he continues in the form which he has shown recently and the England selectors hold faith with him as their number one wicketkeeper ahead of Jos Buttler.
Chris Woakes seized the chance he was given through the absence of Ben Stokes as he scored a useful 66 before gifting his wicket to Herath with the simplest of return catches with a purposeless chip. Woakes also made a good impression with the ball taking 3-31 at a very economical rate of 1.81 in the first innings. Woakes will have to fight for his position in the side when Ben Stokes returns for Pakistan’s tour of England starting in the middle of July. Mahela Jayawardene suggested that in order to solve England’s problems at number 3 they should experiment with moving Stokes up the order. A suggestion which would add impetus to England’s innings at a position normally associated with a more cautious approach. If the selectors do decide to experiment with Jayawardene’s suggestion this would allow both Stokes and Woakes to have a place in the side. Whichever solution is chosen, the next few months could prove to be an exciting time for English cricket.
Unfortunately for Compton, he failed to impress on what Michael Atherton hinted may be his final chance in an England shirt. Compton’s form has been poor throughout the series and despite impressive performances for his county last season, it seems he will fail to retain his place in the England line up. It will be interesting to see who the England selectors favour if indeed they do drop Compton for the test series against Pakistan later this summer. Taylor’s untimely retirement from the game has left a void in the England team which is proving difficult to fill.
England were convincing in the first two matches in this short three match series but failed to press home their advantage in the final test. Pakistan should provide a more challenging encounter and it will be interesting to see how the England top order stand up to the task especially as Pakistan’s lineup will most likely feature more than one spinner.
For the next few weeks though, England turn their attention towards the shorter format of the game. I will watch with excitement when the side take on Sri Lanka in the Royal London ODI series which begins at Trent Bridge on June 21st.