Give England a taste of their own medicine


Sri Lanka’s cricketers struggled with the cold at Headingley and Chester-le-Street in their first two Tests and skipper Angelo Mathews has called for a second sweater as if one weren’t enough.

by Rex Clementine

The scheduling of the three match Test series between Sri Lanka and England raised many eyebrows and the touring batsmen became sitting ducks against England’s seam attack in the early summer up north of the country. England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) as usual have been fantastic hosts, but the same could not be told of the scheduling of the series.

Ideally, in May, venues like Lord’s and The Oval in London, Rose Bowl in Southampton or Cardiff in Wales in the southern part of England could have given the tourists more breathing space. But there was little survival for Angelo Mathews’ side at Headingley and Chester-le-Street, northern most Test grounds in England.

Questions were asked as to why ECB couldn’t schedule one of the May Tests at Lord’s. Apparently construction was going on in one of the stands next to the pavilion at Lord’s and it wouldn’t have been ready in May.

Having suffered a bitter defeat two summers ago against Sri Lanka, the tourists first series win on English soil, England were determined to avenge that defeat. So a tough schedule is understandable.

As Kumar Sangakkara pointed out in these columns a fortnight ago, cricketers shouldn’t be looking at excuses like scheduling. However, Mathews’ side could have benefited through some competitive warm-up games.

Prior to the Tests, Sri Lanka were playing Essex and Leicester - English county sides in the lower divisions in their warm-up games. To make it worse, in both warm-up games, there were several players who were making their First Class debuts and as opener Dimuth Karunaratne pointed out during an interview with The Island, that was hardly the preparation the Sri Lankans needed against Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

Maybe it’s time for Sri Lanka Cricket to pay back England with the same coin when Alastair Cook’s side next travel home. While being wonderful hosts, SLC can make it harder for the tourists handing them a testing schedule.

We suggest that SLC schedule the warm-up games against England in places like Radella and Kandy where conditions will be mild and the Tests in more unforgiving places. Galle would be an obvious choice while other venues like Dambulla and Hambantota can be anointed as Test venues.

Usually, SLC gives good oppositions in warm-up games as Sri Lanka ‘A’ or Board President’s XI play touring teams. Instead, the warm-ups should be against weaker opponents like Sri Lanka Under-19 or some of the teams competing in the Under-23 competition.

To make it harder, the warm-up games should be played on tracks with plenty of grass while the Tests on rank turners. Since England are involved in the series, there won’t be Chris Broad as Match Referee and the pitches are unlikely to be reported for poor quality.

Let England have a taste of their own medicine.

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