Playing the long game in Sri Lanka

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Samit Patel’s cricket statistics are being weighed against his vital statistics even more frequently of late. Is he fit enough for five-day cricket?

It’s an interesting question, but we’re actually more interested in how the other England players cope. Even if Patel plays, we can’t see a debutant playing the decisive hand in this series. You’d bet on a more familiar player having the greatest impact, but will any of the England players be able to excel in the heat and humidity?

The series seems likely to be about players battling their own limitations as much as the opposition and it’s a hell of a shame that there will only be two Tests. The cumulative effect of day upon day of hot, sweaty misery really starts to tell in a longer series and it’s intriguing to see which players are left standing towards the end.

It’s almost like a cycling stage race. Chris Boardman was an exceptional cyclist, but faded in longer races like the Tour de France where you have to race day after day. Some of England’s cricketers are going to fall by the wayside in the next week or so and that’s part of the game.

The longest format tests resolve, adaptability and resilience. Sometimes it’s about playing as well as you can when you feel like shit. Feats delivered in that context win our admiration more than a quick bout of fairweather boundary-hitting.


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  1. “The cumulative effect of day upon day of hot, sweaty misery really starts to tell…”

    Don’t I know it. I had to mow the lawn yesterday, and today I had to measure something outside for a bit of work we need doing. In this heat!

  2. Two tests is not a series in my book. It’s more like a couple of one-off tests that happen to be against the same side in the same country.

    Have I ever made this point around here before?

  3. Bizarrely, all the talk before this tour has been about the heat. Im half expecting an analysis of the morning sunshine’s recent form or the afternoon humidity’s record against seam bowling.

    What about the Sri Lankan team?

    1. I hear that LJKRWN Sun is a pretty formidable opening batsmen, although look forward to some hard lower-order hitting from PRK Moisture.

  4. Speaking of fat cricketers, the Afghanistan keeper Shezad has now gone on my list as one to watch.

  5. Inzamam-Ul-Haq was stout he played plenty of tests. More than half in hot places. OK his fielding was a bit below modern standards of mobility and he didn’t take many quick twos, but he played some long innings.

    Mike Gatting was rotund. He played plenty of tests, many in hot places and he only screamed at umpires to get a couple of hours off occasionally.

    David Boon was far from slim, but he would consider it unmanly to let one’s physical environment affect one in any way.

    Being tubby doesn’t mean you can’t play a 5 day game. Probably doesn’t help mind you

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