If England don’t win this Test match, they’ll drop to fifth in the ICC’s Test rankings. With rain forecast and two days gone without one innings being completed, it looks like this’ll happen.
We think it’s fair. Generally speaking, over their last few series, England have looked worthy and full of effort, but little more than that. There’s not been a great deal to criticise, but there have been very few exceptional performances and it tends to take at least one exceptional performance to win a Test match.
There have been a lot of fifties, but precious few hundreds and there have been a good many sets of bowling figures around 3-95 or 2-70, but no 5-40.
Against the West Indies, England did enough, but the Windies were a shambles. Against India an unexpected bowling attack did well, but England never managed to take any match by the scruff of the neck. Now, against Sri Lanka, they missed their window in Galle by quite a wide margin and have been batted into submission ever since.
It feels like England are happy to concede a large first innings total as long as they just about match it. They then hope to bat slightly better than their opponents in the second dig, winning at some point on the final day. That’s not what they’re actually aiming for, obviously, but it’s hard to see them winning any other way.
If you’re dealing in margins as narrow as that, you’re not really good enough to be classed second-best in the world. Or third. Or fourth.
Sri Lanka v England, third Test, second day at Galle
Sri Lanka 384-6 (Mahela Jayawardene 149 not out, Tillekeratne Dilshan 84, Steve Harmison 3-72)