Cricket Expert & Columnist
Rory Burns was top class and his calmness in second Test was staggering, says Michael Atherton
Last Updated: 18/11/18 9:58am
Michael Atherton has praised Rory Burns and says he was "staggered" by the England opener's temperament during the second innings in Kandy.
Burns made scores of 43 and 59 in the second Test as the tourists won by 57 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
Asked which England batsmen has most stood out during the match, Atherton highlighted the way Burns, so early in his international career, had gone about his innings on day four.
"I have to say in this game: Rory Burns," he told Sky Sports. "Joe Root played magnificently for his hundred, he was man of the match, led from the front giving direction and tempo to the team but you expect it from Joe Root, he's one of the three or four best players in the world.
"I thought the way Rory Burns played staggered me, actually, because it's his second Test match, he's not had the experience of Lions tours whereas the likes of [Keaton] Jennings and [Ben] Foakes, who made hundreds in Galle, they've been on Lions tours to this part of the world.
"Burns hasn't had the benefit of that experience and I thought the calmness he showed, the way he structured his innings, I thought he looked top class yesterday."
England look set to be forced into a change to their side ahead of the third Test in Colombo with Sam Curran unlikely to be able to bowl having sustained a side strain.
That could provide an opportunity to get Jonny Bairstow back into the XI while Atherton also put forward the case for giving a Test debut to Warwickshire fast bowler Olly Stone.
"[It will be] similar conditions, you would have thought, England will go in with the three spinners," he said.
"The one place I would think about is [James] Anderson just because I was thinking yesterday afternoon when that partnership was happening between [Angelo] Mathews and Roshen Silva, when you really need a wicket, what do you need in that situation? You need a bit of oomph and reverse swing.
"They could've gone to Ben Stokes but they didn't so I wonder whether Olly Stone might get a gig. I suspect he won't but I'd certainly think about that. Then if they're going to replace Curran with a batsman then obviously Bairstow comes in."