Not a bad way for England to end their 13-match winless away run in Tests by outclassing Sri Lanka at Galle last Friday. October 2016 was the last time Joe Root’s side claimed a victory away from home, and truth be told, a lot has changed since then.
The word ‘man’ has been banned from everything imaginable. From ‘man-sized tissues’ to ‘mankind’. Actually, I’m surprised in our game they still use the word ‘batsman’.
Anyhow boys & girls, let’s forget about that gender-neutral crap and get into the player ratings.
Jennings – Consider that he came into this game opening the batting alongside a new partner and under immense pressure. Jennings showed a lot of guts and character with the bat. The sweep and the reverse sweep served him well during the game. Now it’s about kicking on. 9/10
Burns – Only 32 runs scored on debut for Alastair Cook’s replacement. But from the limited amount of time he spent at the crease, he looked comfortable and at home. 3/10
Moeen Ali – Not a number three. And not a top order batsman. He can be a match-winner with the bat if you play him down the order. With the ball, it was the best he has bowled outside of England. Pure aggression added with wicket-taking ability. 8/10
Root – If his batting isn’t doing the talking then his captaincy is. He is growing and maturing as a leader. 6.5/10
Stokes – England missed Stokes last winter and he proved why during this Test match. His spell after lunch during SL’s second innings was one of high quality. Quick, intimidating, aggressive and full of quality. Deserved more than just the one wicket didn’t he, Jimmy?! 7/10
Buttler – Useful contributions during both innings. Could potentially move to number three for the next game. Or knowing England’s coaching staff they might make him fielding coach. 5/10
Foakes – Two weeks ago, the Surrey wicket-keeper was probably dancing in some nightclub in London with Jade Dernbach on his shoulders. Fast forward a few weeks and he’s scoring a free-flowing 100 on debut in the sub-continent. Like Dernbach on his shoulders, he cannot be dropped for the next match. 9/10
Curran – Only 11 overs bowled by the young all-rounder. Bairstow will be brought back into the side and it won’t be a surprise to see the younger Curran making way. 4/10
Rashid – After spending two months in the summer mimicking the 12th man, Rashid finally got his hands dirty. Another player who is useful down the order with the bat, Rashid complements his spinning teammates brilliantly. 6/10
Leach – For years, England were looking for a spinner to challenge Moeen Ali and all that time Leach was doing his business at Taunton. He should have been in the side at least two years prior to his debut. Nonetheless, he is the soothing drink that complements the aggressive & spicy spin duo of Rashid and Ali. His delivery to Chandimal in their second innings was arguably the best ball of the match. 7/10
Anderson – Understandably, the ball wasn’t talking in the manner he would have liked but he still made it difficult for the opposition. 6/10
K. Silva & Karunaratne – With a brittle batting line-up, both openers will need to show more application and consistency if SL are to have a say in this series. 4/10
de Silva – Poor shot selection in the first innings. Also, he didn’t have the bite or threat in his bowling compared with England’s trio. 3/10
K. Mendis – In what is a below average batting line-up, Mendis looked like one of the better SL players. However, like his teammates, poor shot selection was a major problem. 5/10
Matthews – After eighteen months of injuries and lacklustre form. Matthews was back to his old best with back-to-back 50’s. Consequently SL are going to need more of that from their ex-skipper for the remaining two games. 7.5/10
Chandimal – Don’t rate him, at all. Only one century outside of the sub-continent should tell you a lot about the now-injured Sri Lankan skipper. He’ll probably score more runs whilst being out of the side. 3/10
Dickwella – SL’s W/K has something about him. He might not produce the big scores, but he will definitely entertain you. His counter-attacking innings down the order will be more dangerous if his teammates add more at the top. 5/10
D. Perera – He troubled England on the opening day of the Test and deserved his five-for. A massive positive for SL in what was a largely uninspiring performance from them. 8/10
Dananjaya – Just like Muttiah Muralitharan did throughout his career, this kid chucks. End of. 0/10
Lakmal – The only seamer in SL’s side. Lakmal bowled with real zip and aggression on the first day. Very impressive considering the conditions are against him. 6.5/10
Herath – Not the fairytale ending for the now-retired left-armer, but a great career nonetheless. 5/10
On a final note, the support from the Barmy Army over in Sri Lanka is nothing short of incredible. It’s like watching a home game away from home. 10/10 to all.