Blogs & Opinion


Bob Willis:

Most Popular Posts:

Opinion Archive:

Stick and twist

Patel's twirl could prove crucial in sweltering heat, says Bob

Bob Willis Posted 23rd March 2012 view comments

England's batsmen failed dismally against Pakistan, but I don't think they will face many problems from Sri Lanka's bowling attack.

The hosts have found it impossible to replace Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan and they don't have a mystery spinner like Saeed Ajmal, who ripped England to shreds in the United Arab Emirates.

Patel: should bat at six for England in Sri Lanka, says Bob

Patel: should bat at six for England in Sri Lanka, says Bob

The humidity in Sri Lanka will be far more treacherous, however, and the conditions are certainly the fiercest that international cricketers have to face.

I can remember my first visit when we went out for the team photo and after two minutes we had to change our clothes completely as they were drenched in sweat!

The batsmen will find it tough to keep their concentration in such intense heat, while it will be a physical slog for the bowlers who will have to keep running in while the sun beams.

Rate

England found wickets hard to come by in their warm-up match with the Sri Lankan Development XI.

England won't want to be overconfident with the bat, despite the lack of venom in Sri Lanka's bowling arsenal, and should use their time in the middle wisely.

Bob Willis
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS
Sri Lanka v England
First Test
5am, Mon, Sky Sports 1 HD
Watch on the move with Sky Go
How to remote record

For that reason, I would select Samit Patel to bat at six instead of Ravi Bopara, who has picked up a side strain and is unlikely to bowl throughout the series

If Graeme Swann continues to not take wickets at the rate that he used to - he won't have that many left-handers to bowl at in this two-match series remember - England could well do with a third spinning option to complement Swann and Monty Panesar, who should play in both games after his excellent performances in the UAE.

England could always select Patel and Bopara and leave out the short-of-form Ian Bell; the selectors are a very loyal bunch but we saw with the omission of Eoin Morgan from this tour that an extended period of poor form will result in a player being left out

I would be surprised if they went in that direction, though, as having one inexperienced batsman in the top six is sufficient and I don't think they would want to risk having two.

England won't want to be overconfident with the bat, despite the lack of venom in Sri Lanka's bowling arsenal, and should use their time in the middle wisely.

They were frankly embarrassing against spin in the UAE and need to get to grips with the nuances of slow bowling ahead of future series.

Trotting

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, haven't had ideal preparation for these Tests on two counts.

Firstly, they have been contesting a host of one-day matches and only finished their Asia Cup campaign this week, plus they have also been trotting around the globe playing non-stop cricket for a long while now.

They may have resolved the pay dispute with their board but they could be mentally weary.

England will be hoping to keep high-calibre batsmen Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera quiet but that could prove tricky on pitches that should deliver run-fests.

Sangakkara, in particular, is wonderful player and it is remarkable that he has an average at a similar level to those of Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis having had to keep wicket for a large portion of his career.

The 34-year-old has shed that duty now, though, and that should ensure he punishes bowlers for a few more years to come.

I don't expect either side to dominate what should be a batters' series, but England have a far more penetrative bowling attack and I would back them to win 1-0.

back to top

Other Cricket Experts:

Latest Posts in Cricket:

Nasser Hussain

Take the strain, Jos

Jos Buttler will be under huge mental and physical burdens as a Test keeper, says Nasser Hussain....

Latest News RSS feeds

'Dream come true' for Buttler

New England wicket-keeper Jos Buttler says making his Test debut on Sunday will be a “dream come true”.

Cook to remain in charge

Alastair Cook will lead England once again for the third Test against India, which starts on Sunday.

Hot Coles fires Hampshire

Matt Coles hit the fastest half-century of the Natwest T20 Blast season as Hampshire triumphed by five wickets at Essex.

Anderson may miss home Test

England's James Anderson could be banned from the Old Trafford Test with August 1 set for his disciplinary hearing.

Div One: Yorkshire on top

Yorkshire reclaimed the County Championship lead with a 220-run victory over Middlesex at Scarborough.

Features

Matt Prior factfile

Matt Prior factfile

We look back at the highs and lows of Matt Prior's career following his decision to take a break from international cricket.

Cricket Podcast: T2 D5

Cricket Podcast: T2 D5

Nasser Hussain reflects on India's 'best' away Test win, the Ishant Sharma show and England's rashness.

Sky Bet expect Alastair Cook to still be charge of England for the Third Test against India

Sky Bet expect Alastair Cook to still be charge of England for the Third Test against India

Sky Bet expect under-fire captain Alastair Cook to still be charge of England for the Third Test against India, starting on Sunday.