This latest England team is a stumpy. It’s not completely without tail – there’s an Anderson-shaped nub there – but there really isn’t much. Presumably, should he return, Ben Stokes would replace Liam Plunkett, which would only strengthen the main spine further.
Lower order batsmen rarely contribute on tougher days – when runs are more valuable – but they can definitely make the difference between decent scores and intimidating ones.
But if there’s any side unlikely to succumb to that modern panacea, scoreboard pressure, it’s Sri Lanka. They play most of their cricket in Colombo and have therefore been tempered to withstand far greater run pressure than any other team.
To Sri Lanka 575-9 is nothing to write home about. Whereas to most of us, anything over 500 is simply ‘loads’, the Sri Lankans probably distinguish between a 575 pitch and a 650 pitch. We’re not sure which they think this is.