England made a spectacular start to the summer with victory, completed in just 163.4 overs, in the first Test against Sri Lanka – but it was hard not to feel some sympathy for the tourists.
Anderson’s match-figures – 25.1-11-45-10 – say it all about the pace, precision, craft and intelligence of his bowling
James Anderson and Stuart Broad are a world class pair, as 781 Test wickets between them testify, and pretty tough to handle for batsmen at the best of times. A damp, cloudy Headingley is far from the best of times for batting, so little wonder the Sri Lankans, with just two warm-up games behind them, were overwhelmed.
Anderson’s match-figures – 25.1-11-45-10 – say it all about the pace, precision, craft and intelligence of his bowling. Hopefully, the Lancastrian still has plenty more fuel in the tank at the top level but it’s safe to say he now has more Tests behind them than ahead of him so it’s getting to the stage when spectators should grab the opportunity to see this great bowler while they can – for England in their Test match against Pakistan at Edgbaston starting on August 3, perhaps.
Anderson’s excellence was far from the only positive for England from the Headingley Test. Jonny Bairstow’s century was a memorable innings compiled at the time when skills matter most – in difficult conditions with the team under pressure. Alex Hales showed the resilience and patience which some pundits felt that he did not possess. Without his defiance, Bairstow might not have had the time to unfurl his century. Hales emphatically removed some of the question-marks above him as a Test player. Above others in the top order, question-marks remain.
Dasun Shanaka, making his Test debut, bagged Alastair Cook as his first Test wicket and quickly followed it up with two more
But what of Sri Lanka? In transition and undercooked after just two warm-up games (in 1961, Richie Benaud’s ‘Invincibles’ played 11 three-day tour games before the first Ashes Test!) they were outplayed but there is talent there. It is just a shame they have so little time to acclimatise – and so little to react to the first Test with the second starting in Durham next Friday.
For all England’s powerhouse performance, for me, the most enduring image of the match was of a Sri Lankan player. Dasun Shanaka, making his Test debut, bagged Alastair Cook as his first Test wicket and quickly followed it up with two more. Interviewed after play, the 24-year-old spoke through the broadest of smiles. He couldn’t stop beaming: a picture of utterly charming, unfettered joy. That is the thrill, the pride, the kudos that Test match cricket brings. Long may it remain so.
See England vs Pakistand Test at Edgbaston
England take on Pakistan this summer in an Investec Test Match and tickets are on sale priced from £31 for Adults and from just £6 for Juniors (U16s). You can purchase your tickets now by calling 0844 847 1902 or click here to book online.