Weird day. England ruined Sri Lanka, and realistically ought to have dismissed them for no more than 90. That they reached 141 had little to do with their ability and more to do with England’s indifference. They appear flat, mildly complacent and are lacking the arse-kicking Michael Vaughan would provde them. Wonderful cricketer though Andrew Flintoff is, and as well as he captained today, he is not Vaughan and England are missing him. He’s so inexperienced that I feel guilty even hinting annoyance at his inability to post a short-leg, or his reactionary leadership. But we can only report on what we see…
As for Monty, well, I’m afraid Parmeson Tony is on borrowed ground. I found it all very amusing initially, but his dropped catch today prevented England from bowling Sri Lanka out for under 100. Now, as it happens, it ought not to matter too greatly. But as my editor, Andrew Miller, pointed out, if Monty can drop a sitter at the most patriotically English ground, what in the name of colourful turbans will he be like at Brisbane in November? This isn’t an attack against him in any way. He seems like the most stand-up sort of chap you could ask for, and is the most talented left-arm spinner we’ve had since Phil Tufnell. But sadly his fielding is just not up to scratch and on current form could easily cost England a Test against better countries than Sri Lanka. Sorry Monty.
Him aside, England just don’t seem to be on their game. Take Andrew Strauss. He can’t catch a cold, and even when batting he doesn’t look as assured or composed as he so often is. His run out today, albeit not without Alastair Cook’s help, rather demonstrates a player struggling to start the summer.
So it’s all a bit weird, frankly. The highlight was watching Liam Plunkett bowl, who bowled much fuller and is quicker through the air that I first thought. Very impressive indeed. Tomorrow, with Pietersen looking in absolute prime form, could be carnage for Sri Lanka