Sim Series, Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test: Team news

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With the Sri Lanka v England Test series postponed because of coronavirus, we’re playing out two Test matches between Sri Lanka and England on Cricket Captain 2018’s ‘All-Time Greats’ mode… This is Sim Series.

In the wake of England’s big win in the first Test, we asked whether they should be forced to omit players who retired before Sri Lanka ever played a Test match.

Most of you said they should.

Okay, people were able to respond to the survey multiple times if they wanted – but we figure anyone who did that was merely showing passion.

We’re happy for our surveys to be weighted for passion.

The upshot is we’ve gone with post-1982 England players to try and even things up a bit.

England team

Five of the players who played the first Test were very obviously ruled out of the second Test. Wilfred Rhodes, Herbert Sutcliffe, Wally Hammond, Jim Laker and Syd Barnes all needed replacing.

So where does that leave us.

First up, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ben Stokes all retain their places.

With regards to Ian Botham, the selectors concluded that they were effectively considering the post-1982 vintage and so tragically there’s no Beefy. Similarly, it turns out Alan Knott’s Test career ended in 1981, so he needed replacing too.

The other marginal decision was Derek Underwood. Turns out Underwood took 5-28 in Sri Lanka’s very first Test innings, so he is very much in.

In terms of openers, it was a bit of a toss-up between Graham Gooch and Marcus Trescothick. England have gone for Tres, who did actually have a good record in Sri Lanka.

At number three, it was David Gower or Jonathan Trott. That’s a fiendishly tough decision, but it’s also true that it’s an opportunity to pick David Gower and so in that situation, obviously you pick David Gower.

Pietersen can move up to four, leaving a very difficult choice between Joe Root, Graham Thorpe and Ian Bell for the fifth batting slot. England have gone with Thorpe on the basis that he’s literally teaching Root what to do these days and so presumably knows more than he does. (We can exclusively reveal that the selectors spent a good 20 minutes wondering whether they should pick James Vince for a laugh but ultimately decided against it.)

Matt Prior is picked behind the stumps because the selectors immediately thought he was the best choice and only later realised that if they were to employ their reasoning from the first Test of picking the best keeper, they should have gone with Jack Russell.

It is too late to correct this.

Monty Panesar edges out Adil Rashid as third spinner. Paul Collingwood is picked specifically to run the drinks.

Sri Lanka team

Sri Lanka weren’t forced to make any changes, but they’ve made a couple anyway.

Seeing how England’s deathly dull top order batting set them up for victory in the first Test, they’ve dropped Tillakaratne Dilshan for Marvan Atapattu.

Arjuna Ranatunga comes in as a specialist captain, which unfortunately means that Kumar Sangakkara has been forced to don the gloves.

Join us tomorrow for day one.


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  1. I’m expecting rain to wash out most of the day, with maybe only ten overs possible. Still, at least we’ll get our money back.

  2. My gut instinct would have been to pick Jack Russell ahead of Matt Prior, but looking at the rest of the team, not least the “three number 10/11s” playing at 9-10-jack, I think Matt Prior might be the right choice after all, strengthening the batting.

    I do hope the reporter will let us know how many catches & stumpings Matt Prior misses, especially keeping to Deadly, which he won’t have done before. Part of the Deadly magic was having his keeper/partner Alan Knott behind the stumps, as his deliveries are like no other spinners, really.

    I’m licking my lips at the prospect of this match.

    I’m also licking my lips at the prospect of lunch today. Daisy went to the shops this morning, discovering that (despite her losing sleep over this) there is still fresh food for sale after all.

    1. I had a vivid memory from my youth of Russell coming in against Sri Lanka, in one of their relatively early tests in England, and his saving England’s blushes with a rearguard innings just short of a ton. Having found the scorecard (1988 at the Oval) it seems he scored 94, but came in first drop as nightwatchman and in a match that England was in control of throughout. Strange how memory can be deceptive. Maybe it was because that nearly all England scores of fifty plus in my youth were rearguards of varying degrees for futility, so my subconscious has lazily assumed that they all were.

  3. I’m imagining the Sri Lankan selectors had had quite enough of Mahela bringing himself on to bowl.

    1. Absolutely. That was insane. And no overs for Jayasuriya. You’d think the captain had his Js mixed up if it weren’t for the fact he was one of them.

  4. Think you should have followed the gameplan of the first test and bored them into submission. Tavare, Atherton, Jennings, Cook, Trott, Crawley (bonus of an average of 120 against the Lions), Russell keeps.

    Tudor, DeFreitas, Pringle and Underwood, with their sub-20 bowling averages against Sri Lanka, Tavare as your fifth bowler if you need to tighten things up a bit (economy rate of 0.00 against them) and you’ve got your team.

    Giles, conceding runs at less than three an over when playing in Sri Lanka and scoring at less than two, unlucky to miss out.

  5. I’m finding it hard to concentrate on my work this morning. My brain is simulating its state on test match days to near perfection.

    I’ll be fine once I am on the VCs and all that. But I should have prepared all the meetings yesterday, before the sim test started. When will I ever learn?

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