Media wrap: Agony and ecstacy in Leeds
The second Test in Leeds was a thriller that saw Sri Lanka win with one ball to spare, with Moeen Ali's all-day resistance nearly saving the game for England. There was much scrutiny over Alastair Cook's captaincy though.
The second Test in Leeds was a thriller that saw Sri Lanka win with one ball to spare, with Moeen Ali's all-day resistance nearly saving the game for England. There was much scrutiny over Alastair Cook's captaincy though, as well as other talking points.
Here's our traditional media wrap from the English pundits.
<i>The Telegraph</i>'s <b>Simon Hughes</b> focused on Moeen Ali's courageous, though futile, all-day innings: "One of the most resourceful, courageous and composed maiden Test centuries ever made, making light of an increasingly harrowing situation. He played two loose shots in his 390-minute stay at the crease. One was at 11.15am a lazy waft at Nuwan Pradeep. The next was at 6.10pm, chasing a wide one from Shaminda Eranga. In the 70 overs in between, he played with intense commitment and immaculate concentration. His discipline was unwavering."
<b>Mike Selvey</b> in the <i>Guardian</i> urged Cook to focus on his batting first, and captaincy success would follow: "It seems that his lack of batting touch, which is surely technical rather than simply a matter of form, is exacerbated now by the yoke of captaincy. Cook is not an intuitive captain and never will be but that does not make him an inherently bad one. Rather he looks to lead by example, the agenda set with the bat.
"If Cook were to score runs in the kind of quantity he once managed, then that would underpin the innings, with others feeding from it, and leadership would seem easier. It does appear, however, that he might be placing too much emphasis on being in the vanguard, perhaps trying to be something he is not, rather than being a little more selfish in that regard and thinking primarily about his own game.
"The point has not yet been reached where either Cook or his employer should be considering whether his position as Test captain is appropriate for both the team benefit and his own but it will be under discussion."
<b>Tom Collomose</b> in the <i>Independent</i> agreed with Selvey: "Has Cook become a worse captain since he took the Test job in 2012 and led the team to victory in India, scoring three centuries in the series? Of course not. Like Mathews, Cook is a leader who is successful when he can set an example through deeds rather than words. If runs start to flow for him again, he will be shown more patience. If the lean streak continues, and his late dismissal last night hardly helped his cause, Cook may find it difficult to see out the summer."
<b>Vic Marks</b>, also in the <i>Guardian</i>, felt England had underestimated the opposition: "No doubt England had their plans for Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. But, along with some of us Anglocentric onlookers, they may not have thought so much about Angelo Mathews, who averages more in Test cricket than any Englishman playing in the Headingley Test. As for Dhammika Prasad and Shaminda Eranga, it was all too tempting to agree with those who said that they might constitute an average county attack. The trouble was that they out-bowled Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson at Headingley. So the generous conclusion is that this pair of Sri Lankan pacemen aren't too bad."
<b>Andrew Fernando</b> at <i>Cricinfo</i> focused on the exchange between Joe Root and Angelo Mathews as the turning piont: "With all that was to follow on day five, Root may not even remember what he said to Angelo Mathews, as Sri Lanka's captain oversaw the umpires' choosing of a new ball. But he did say something. Root spoke for no longer than three seconds, and suddenly Mathews was alive and aggressive, throwing something much longer, and nastier, in his face.
"Perhaps not even Root will know whether the edge he would send to gully was induced in part by the verbal assault. But before his jibe at Mathews, Sri Lanka were like a balloon, slowly deflating in the sun. Root's brief words were a pin prick, but they brought an explosion."
<b>George Dobell</b>, also at <i>Cricinfo</i>, looked at the bright spots for England: "Although it will not seem it right now, there were glimmers of gold amid the rubble of this defeat. The fact that Moeen Ali, Sam Robson and Gary Ballance were able to register centuries in their second Tests suggests all three could go on to play valuable roles at this level. Equally, the performance of Liam Plunkett and Chris Jordan, at least in parts, suggested England are beginning to assemble a group of seamers that could serve them well for a few years. The fact that they demonstrated admirable fight on the final day, too, suggests there remains some spirit and resilience in the dressing room."
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