Complacent England?

Interesting day’s play today. Before tea, it looked like Sri Lanka were going to be bundled out for a paltry total before their best batsmen this series, Chaminda Vaas, dug them out of another sizeable whole. It’s a shame this is the last Test of the series, as there’s an interesting trend developing.

England look so utterly dominant in the field at times that you wonder how Sri Lanka will ever scratch out an innings. Yet with the (now dreaded) mention of the tail, England’s polished bowling and control seem to vanish out of the window. Sri Lanka will be chuffed to bits in reaching 231 (off the top of my head), and Vaas was again instrumental in getting them that far – so much so that I wrote some things about him.

It demonstrates Sri Lanka’s resiliance, certainly. But more importantly it exposes a curious problem with England’s bowlers (or attitude?) who, this series, have been caught short. I did say in my piece at Cricinfo that it “smacked of complacency” which, on reflection, is a little tough on them. But nevertheless, I think bowling attacks around the world have yet to react to the new wave of tailend batsmen; they’re a different beast these days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be afforded any more respect than they ever were.

Ian Botham is of the opinion that tailenders should be bounced out – chin music and all that – and intimidated which, on the basis of the dross England bowled at Nos. 9, 10 and jack, is a fair idea. Yes tailenders have added defence to their armoury, but let’s not forget their position in the batting order.

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