Category: Cricket

England complete first ever tour whitewash of Sri Lanka

England have completed their first ever whitewash in Sri Lanka after an incredibly close 42-run victory in the third and final Test in Colombo.

It appeared as though Sri Lanka might be able to salvage a consolation win in this Test with Kusal Mendis scoring 86 and Roshen Silva reaching 65. The England bowlers struggling to make headway with the Sri Lankan batsman.

Eventually, Jack Leach continued his fantastic form with a run out of Mendis that set England back on the right track. Moeen Ali also proved himself to be one of the best spin bowlers in the world by taking four wickets, including Perera and Silva with only one run between them.

With the scorecard reading 226-9, it seemed routine for England to finish the game, the series, and the tour, however, it proved anything but. Lakmal and Pushpukumara managed a very respectable last-wicket stand of 58 before Lakmal finally succumbed by lbw to Leach, who joined Ali on a four-wicket haul.

Talking about the tour Joe Root, England’s captain, said “it has been a fabulous tour. It has been a complete team performance throughout the whole trip. Everyone has contributed in some shape or form and that is the most pleasing and impressive thing.”

England have sprung back from their own whitewashing by Australia in the Ashes by winning eight of their last nine Tests. They have just four more Tests left though, three against West Indies and a one-off against Ireland, before the Ashes comes around again on August 1st 2019.

England seal Sri Lanka series with a win in the second Test

England won their first series away from home since beating South Africa in January 2016 by sealing a victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka. Joe Root captained the side to a 2-0 lead with the third and final Test starting on Friday 23rd November.

Going into day 5 the result was very much in the balance with Sri Lanka sitting on 226-7 needing just 75 runs to level the series. The home side started well but suffered two wickets in three balls from Moeen Ali that all but ended any hopes of a victory. First Niroshan Dickwella fell for 35 after edging to first slip where Ben Stokes made a comfortable catch and then two balls later Suranga Lakmal was bowled for a duck.

The final wicket fell as Jack Leach achieved his first Test five-wicket haul. Leach caught and bowled Malinda Pushpakmura and the celebrations from the English side quickly followed. This was their first series win in Sri Lanka since March 2001 and only their second ever. Sri Lanka finished on 243 runs, 57 short of victory.

Talking after the Test captain Joe Root said: “The guys have worked extremely hard here. We said we’re going to play in a certain manner and we’ve backed that up completely throughout the two games. That’s probably the most pleasing thing.”

“We’ve stuck to our guns, been ruthless when we’ve had our opportunities to get ahead in the games and we’ve soaked up pressure well. This team is growing all the time, looking to improve in practice and driving that standard up which is a great position to be in.”

Root stepped up in the second innings making a fantastic 124, his 15th Test century. The Yorkshireman said that he “wants to get to number one in the world” and regardless of the outcome in the third Test England will overtake South Africa to take second place in the world rankings. Only India stands in the way.

With the Cricket World Cup taking place next May in England and Wales, Root and his team will be looking to make the most of the closing Test of this series as well as the tour of the West Indies in the new year. The final Test against Sri Lanka will take place in Colombo and starts at 04:30 on Friday 23rd November.

England’s first One Day International against Sri Lanka abandoned after heavy rain

England’s first cricket match since their 4-1 Test series win against India was abandoned after 15 overs due to heavy rain. The one-day international, played in the town of Dambulla, was called off mid-afternoon due to a sodden outfield.

Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to field but the England team looked eager to get started. In the 15 overs that were played England managed to reach a score of 92-2. Johnny Bairstow and Jason Roy were the openers and managed to reach 25 and 24 respectively before getting caught out.

The first wicket came as a delivery from fast-medium bowler Nuwan Pradeep was edged by Bairstow and comfortably caught behind the stumps. Five balls later Roy completely misjudged a ball from Akila Dananjaya to get caught at mid-off.

Third and fourth at the crease were Joe Root and Eoin Morgan who picked up runs quickly, reaching 25 and 14 respectively before the game was called off.

Talking to BBC Sport about the match Morgan said “It has been a little bit frustrating but there is plenty of energy in the camp, we’re excited about being here and getting into the series. This has halted that energy a bit but we’re hoping to get a full game in for the second match, especially with the reserve day. Only time will tell if we’ve had enough preparation but we certainly will be fresh.”

The second ODI will also take place in Dambulla, in the centre of Sri Lanka, on Saturday, with a reserve day on Sunday in case rain becomes an issue again.

After the five-match series of ODI’s concludes on October 23rd there is a one-off T20 game on the 27th followed by a three-match Test series to finish the year. In January 2019 the English team will begin a 3-month tour of the West Indies with a similar format to this tour of Sri Lanka except featuring three T20 games instead of one.

James Anderson becomes Test cricket’s most prolific fast bowler

James Anderson broke Glen McGrath’s record for wickets taken by a fast bowler in the final Test match against India this week. The Englishman took the final wicket in the game that saw Alastair Cook bow out of international cricket.

His tally of 564 leaves him fourth in the list of all-time wicket-takers. Only spin bowlers Anil Kumble (619, India), Shane Warne (708, Australia), and Muttiah Muralitharan (800, Sri Lanka) have taken more.

Anderson, 36, deserves a lot of praise for maintaining fitness levels and drive over his long career, which has undoubtedly contributed to his success. The hardest thing for a bowler at the top of his game is to maintain that level for many years. Far too often have we seen great bowlers retire early due to injuries or losing their edge.

Mitchell Johnson is a prime example. The Australian played 73 Test matches taking 313 wickets leaving him as the fourth best wicket taker for his country when he retired. He had a tumultuous career, losing his place in the side due to stints of poor form at times, but also winning ICC Cricketer of the year twice too. Had Johnson had the longevity of Anderson, he could have been challenging for that record too. Gough, Harmison, and Jones too ended their careers early as their bodies let them down.

McGrath was dignified as his record was broken, challenging Anderson to take more wickets. “If he can raise the bar to 600 wickets, that’s an incredible effort. I was proud to hold it for as long as I did. For it to be beaten by somebody like Jimmy Anderson is great”

“I have a lot of respect for Jimmy. He’s been an incredible bowler for a long time. To have played well over 140 Tests and just keep running in, day in, day out, and remain at the top of his game. Yeah, I’m very proud Jimmy’s got there.’

Fellow Englishman Stuart Broad is the next most likely active player to break Anderson’s record. Four years younger and 133 wickets behind, if Broad can keep up with the physicality of a packed cricketing schedule he may eclipse his teammate. McGrath doubts that the record will be broken any time soon, “just to play enough games to get anywhere near it is tough in itself.” Anderson has currently played 143 Test matches, 11 more than any other fast bowler.

He says he isn’t done with Test cricket quite yet though. “I don’t really think about it. I play my best when I focus on what’s ahead of me; the next game, the next series, whatever it is. I don’t like looking too far ahead. I don’t think it helps certainly me or the team.”

England will be hoping they can continue their winning form in tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies this winter. Continuing their momentum will be crucial as the side looks forward to next summer’s Ashes.

Alastair Cook steps away from international cricket after a record-breaking career

Alastair Cook finished his 12 year batting career with a century in the fifth Test against India at The Oval.  His 147 helped guide England to a 4-1 series win in the final match of the Summer.

In an interview with Sky Sports he said “the timing is right”. “I started noticing things in my game and preparations were missing. That edge isn’t there.”

Cook got his first start as part of the England side that toured India in early 2006. The team suffered heavily from stomach complaints, an issue that almost always dogs the team in India. That didn’t stop Cook however as he scored a promising 60 in the first innings and followed it up with a fantastic 104* in the second.

The centuries came thick and fast and in December 2012, again against India, he became England’s record centurion in Kolkata. Lighting up Eden Gardens he reached 190 in 377 balls before ultimately being run out by Kohli.

Three years and many standing ovations later it was time for another major record to be broken, this time surpassing Graham Gooch as England’s record Test runs batsman.

For his farewell Test this week, the crowd at The Oval gave him an ovation every opportunity they could. He began day four on 46, quickly reaching his half-century early on in the morning session. With every over that passed the fans grew more tense, anticipating the opportunity of a final century.

His stint at the crease wasn’t just plain sailing. On 72 India appealed for a catch at silly point but, to the relief of almost everyone in the ground, he was found not out. On he powered, and soon he reached 96. The crowd rose to their feet, only Jadeja could stop Cook now.

The delivery came, Cook leaned back and cut the ball through point for a comfortable single. The ball rolled out to Jaspit Bumrah, a player whose had a great Test series. A momentary lapse in concentration saw him throw well beyond the stumps, rolling all the way for a boundary. Play was paused for several minutes as The Oval marked the occasion.

When he finally fell for 147, every Indian fielder on the pitch came to shake his hand and, for one final time, the crowd acknowledged Cook. An extraordinary career for an extraordinary cricketer.

The incredible numbers of Cook’s career:

  • Matches:  161
  • Innings:  291
  • Runs: 12,472
  • 50s:  57
  • 100s:  33
  • Highest Score:  294
  • Average:  45.35