How Joe Root conquered Galle
England’s series win in Sri Lanka may have looked comfortable on paper, but in reality it was a hard fought victory against a team which could soon become increasingly hard to beat.
The two tests followed a similar pattern. Both played in the same ground, on both occasions the hosts won the toss, batted first and England were tested with a fourth innings run chase on both occasions.
There were positives for both sides. For Sri Lanka, Lasith Embuldinya finished as the leading wicket taker, collecting 15 of the 40 English scalps. At the age of 24, it looks as though the left arm spinner has a bright future.
Angelo Matthews top scored for Sri Lanka, including 71 in the first test and 110 in the second. His contribution added to two strong Sri Lanka batting performances, but couldn’t disguise the two collapses in the first innings of the first test and the second innings of the second.
For England, the pros certainly outweigh the cons. Captain Joe Root batted, and batted, and batted some more, scoring 426 runs. His 228 in the first test was followed up with a 186 in the second test. A monkey on the Yorkshireman’s back was the criticism he received for being unable to convert enough 50s into bigger scores. In Galle over a two week period, Root helped to do this.
In the process of getting his runs, Root overtook Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower to become England’s fourth highest run scorer in test cricket. With age on his side and plenty of test matches to come in the next few years, Root is well set to make an assault on Alistair Cook’s 12,472 runs.
With the ball, England’s spin bowlers enjoyed the complimentary conditions. Dom Bess and Jack Leach shared 22 wickets, with Root chipping in with a couple to set up the victory target in the second test. The confidence boost for the mainline spinners came at an ideal time, with a tour of India getting underway in just over a week.
English pace bowlers don’t usually get much in the way of reward in the sub continent, but all of those who played in Sri Lanka contributed. Stuart Broad got things underway on the first morning, and James Anderson picked up a 6 for in the second test. This Anderson contribution was rounded off by Sam Curran and Mark Wood to assure all wickets fell to pace men.
It was a whistle-stop tour of Sri Lanka, but with the doom and gloom of the world at present, it was a deeply enjoyable and timely series of test cricket. Sri Lanka have the look of a team which can click into place soon, whilst England have made a winning start to a jam-packed schedule in 2021.
Next up for the visitors is that mouthwatering tour of India, whilst the next time Sri Lanka play will be an ODI and T20 tour of England in the summer.