Home > Features >

England vs Sri Lanka 2014: Possible strategies against English middle-order

Joe Root will be key to England's hopes © Getty Images
Joe Root will be key to England’s hopes © Getty Images

As England and Sri Lanka head into the first Test of their two-match Test series, Bharath Ramaraj takes a look as to what strategies the tourists can deploy in order to register their first-ever Test series win in England.

Gary Ballance: Ballance, the Zimbabweborn left-hander has worked his way to the top of the tree on the back of some impressive performances for Yorkshire and England Lions (he has also played Pro40 games for Derbyshire).

The stockily built left-hander gets into good positions to play strokes square of the wicket on either side. When he plays those free-flowing strokes through the off-side, one gets inkling that he may edge one to the slip cordon. But more often than not he gets away with it. It is something you get to see with batsmen belonging to his tribe. It is still an area, where a bowler can out-think him by leaving the gap at cover open and placing a gully, especially when the ball is darting around. It has to be remembered that he will bat at No 3 position and Sri Lankan seamers can tempt him by bowling full and outside off.

With Ballance, there is also a gut feeling that he can play well across the line with a few heaves against medium pacers. But he may struggle to use his wrists to dexterously keep the ball down and play the flick shot. In England, where tracks can be on the slower side, a pacer from over the wicket can take pace off the ball with a short mid-wicket in place. Ballance may just struggle to keep it down.

Mitchell Johnson also bombed him with short pitch stuff in the Sydney Test in the Ashes 2013-14. Just like former South African all-rounder, Lance Klusener, he got into a tangle and couldn’t shift his weight onto the back-foot. But at the same-time, you can excuse a debutant for losing the plot against the fiery Johnson.

Chanaka Welegedara and Shaminda Eranga can start with the new ball looking to bowl full and outside off. Angelo Mathews to try a few variations as a Plan B. Now, can Nuwan Pradeep rough him up a bit to help out Mathews? It is always about bowling well in tandem.

Joe Root: Root is a typical Northerner in terms of batsmanship. He hangs back more often than not and occasionally, even to a half-volley he looks to defend. Even in the first innings of the first Test at Trent Bridge in the Ashes 2013 when Australia’s Peter Siddle castled him,  the plan was to bowl full. Even if that means it can turn out to be a half volley, it doesn’t matter. They also left the gap at cover open for most of the time.

In that sense, Root reminds a bit of Michael Atherton though, one feels that Root has a wider range of strokes when compared to the stoic Atherton. Sri Lankan seamers generally bowl a fuller length, but they need to be disciplined, as Root is a fine player off his pads. Mathews himself, with his variations, is worth a try against Root as well.

Moeen Ali: The brother of County cricket’s journeyman Kadeer Ali (he played for Worcestershire, Leicestershire and Gloucestershire) and cousin of former England swing bowler, Kabir Ali, plays an attractive brand of cricket.

Just purely based on skill, the left-handed Moeen has to be the brightest prospect coming through the ranks. He plays with Asian wrists and those crisply essayed drives can be a purist’s delight. More importantly, he can counter Rangana Herath’s threat with his nimble footwork. He doesn’t seem to have any major flaws as such. But just like most young batsmen can play one shot too many through the off-side. It is perhaps about playing the patience game with him by bowling a foot outside off and waiting for the batsman to fall into the trap.

Matt Prior: Prior has been a fine servant of English cricket. The wicketkeeper-batsman has come to England’s rescue on many occasions. But in recent times, he has been in wretched form and during the Ashes 2013-14, Prior was even dropped from the setup.

Johnson and Siddle have tried to bomb him with chin music. Prior certainly gets rattled by it, and he usually hangs his bat outside off without any conviction to edge the ball.

In the Test played at Adelaide against Australia, with Johnson bowling at Prior, the wicketkeeper-batsman just seemed to be sensing a bouncer is around the corner. Johnson angled it across the right-hander with Prior hanging his bat outside off and edging it. It though, has to be remembered that even when he isn’t at his best, Prior can play spin well.

The problem with any unit is whether there are  bowlers to execute the plans. Sri Lanka have to make most of what they have got. Pradeep to rough up Matt Prior and then for Welegedara to use the left-armer’s angle from over the wicket can be a strategy for Lankans to work on.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)   

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 22, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

World T20 League 2014

Sep 23, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 4 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Perth Scorchers won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 19, 2014  at Raipur

NK won by 33 runs (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 18, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 5 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 17, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 3 wkts

Photos

KXIP vs Hobart Hurricanes, Match 2 CLT20 2014

Videos

Kane, Devcich praise each others knock

Live Cricket Score Cape Cobras vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014: Cape Cobras finish at 184/6

CLT20 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Lahore Lions (LL), Match 7: 5 key battles

Before Mitchell Marsh, Surinder Amarnath had hit sixes off last two balls to win a match in England

Kings XI Punjab vs Barbados Tridents, Match 5, CLT20 2014: Highlights

CLT20 2014: Mitchell Marsh stakes his claim for a spot in Australia’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad with late blitz for Perth Scorchers against Dolphins

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 Chennai Super Kings CLT20 CLT20 2014 Hobart Hurricanes India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab Kolkata Knight Riders Northern Knights

Richard Levi, Vernon Philander help Cape Cobras to 184/6 against Hobart Hurricanes in CLT20 2014 Match 6 at Hyderbad

Cape Cobras vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 6 at Hyderbad: Robin Peterson on the attack for Cobras

Cape Cobras vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 6 at Hyderbad: Joe Mennie dismisses Justin Ontong

Vatican City wins two out of five matches on first foreign tour

Jammu and Kashmir’s Ranji Trophy home matches shifted to Mohali due to floods

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Lahore Lions (LL), Match 7, CLT20 2014: KKR likely XI

CLT20 2014: Akshar Patel reaffirms all-round abilities

Cape Cobras vs Hobart Hurricanes, Match 6, CLT20 2014: Cape Cobras’s likely XI

Cape Cobras vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 6: Hobart Hurricane’s likely XI

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Lahore Lions, Match 7, CLT20 2014: Lahore’s likely XI

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

669 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes (HH) CLT20 2014

Richard Levi, Vernon Philander help Cape Cobras to 184/6 against Hobart Hurricanes in CLT20 2014 Match 6 at Hyderbad

Bang Bang new dialogue promo: Why did Hrithik Roshan ask Katrina Kaif to unzip his jacket?

NGOs pursue education for all

Round 2 in Android One war: New phones may hit market by December-end

Champions League T20 2014 (CLT20): Cape Cobras (COB) reach 184/6 against Hobart Hurricanes (HBH)

Download ‘the Cuddlr,’ app that helps you cuddle strangers

Sukhbir Singh Badal: Narendra Modi government very decisive, will change system

Now, a romantic comic book on micro-organisms

Fawad Khan: I look forward to working with Mahira again; we might be seen together sometime soon

Prayers to be held in Kerala temple for success of Mangalyaan

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here