My Xi for the 2nd test
England are coming off the back of an impressive win. Weak and careless Sri Lankan batting combined with a Root masterclass put England in pole position to win and they got there after a few bumps along the way. The standouts were obviously Root himself, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach and Stuart Broad. Johnny Bairstow does deserve an honorable mention for his 47 but failing to convert it a bit more did him some harm. So what changes should England make? Who is in danger of missing out with one more poor game? Who is getting another chance?
To open I'm sticking with Crawley and Sibley. There will be talk about their games against spin (especially Sibley) but i am a firm believer in the theory that the best way to improve their game against spin is to play spin. Sibley is a smart cricketer who learns quickly and can adapt (illustrated by his change in technique) and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a change up in the next test. In the first game Sibley's back foot was far too square and he was planted on the crease meaning he couldn’t really meet the pitch of the ball, but who better to help you develop against spin than Kallis, Trott and Thorpe. From a personal point of view even if Sibley gets out for 20 but he’s shown a development in his game and a few technical tweaks against spin then I'll be more than happy to keep him on. With Crawley it’s a bit different. In the first innings he played a shot he usually plays to good effect against spin but he just didn’t commit to it and that was his fall down, whilst in the 2nd that would’ve been his first time playing on a true turner with the sort of pressure that was on him at the time. Nevertheless he looked uncomfortable, but much like Sibley I would back Crawley to adapt and improve because that’s the sort of player that he is. So that’s why I'm sticking with the 2 openers.
Number 3-6 are staying the same with Bairstow, Root, Lawrence and Buttler. They all had a good test last time out with Bairstow and Lawrence providing partners to Root until partnering each other to see England home. Butler looked assured for his 30 and had his best game behind the stumps for England collecting his first stumping. If England are to have any success this winter they need solid tours from Bairstow, Root and Buttler. I was tempted to give Foakes the gloves for match time but what for? Buttler is a better batsmen and if his keeping continues at the same standard then all is bright and beautiful.
The bowling attack is the same makeup as before with an all rounder 2 spinners and 2 seamers.
At number 7, if he’s fit, I went for Chris Woakes. Woakes needs game time at the moment and this is the perfect time for him to get it. He’s a good player of spin and his newly developed bang it into the pitch style of bowling should help him in the conditions. Rotation is crucial for England this year and Curran for Woakes is a simple yet stable swap.
8 and 9 I opted for Leach and Bess. Both men took 5 fors last time out, admittedly one was more impressive than the other., but they both still grew into the game as time went on. The spin twins need lots of overs in them to get them fully fresh for India so a game like this is crucial for them. I don’t really need to explain their inclusion and if the pitch called for it I would be tempted to play another spinner (either Moeen at 7 or Parkinson in for one of the seamers).
At 10 I went to Olly Stone. If you know me you know i’m a big Stone fan and i do think he is indeed a marvellous player. His extra pace and bounce will be useful out there and it allows England to rest Mark Wood. Wood bowled well last game and was unlucky not to pick up a wicket. Much like the rest of the pace attack, rotation is key to success and Stone for Wood is something of a straight swap. Stone will play his 2nd test and hopefully can show everyone that he is indeed an international quality bowler.
Number 11 I've gone for Jimmy. Now if England did opt for Parkinson I would have him at 11 and Jimmy at 10 to complete the world's longest tail, but I feel they will want Stone on the side. Anyway Jimmy plays purely to rest Broad who bowled wonderfully in the last game….. Oh you want a reason? Ummm 600 wickets? Yeah that's good enough.
So there we have my team for the 2nd test match at Galle! Do you agree? Would you have picked anyone else? Do you agree with my assessments? Let me know @therunoutblog1 on Twitter.