NASSER HUSSAIN: Stuart Broad set the tone for outstanding England in their victory over Sri Lanka… his exceptional performance will be an inspiration to the rest of the bowlers
- England won the first Test in Sri Lanka on Monday with an impressive showing
- Nasser Hussain felt that Stuart Broad produced an exceptional display in attack
- Joe Root captained effectively but must be wary of setting the field for bad balls
- England can still improve but Hussain has hailed their ‘outstanding’ performance
For Joe Root and England, this was the ideal start to a challenging year.
As a captain, he got back to form imperiously, and as a team they continued the winning progression.
It’s one thing dominating in your own conditions, but to do so overseas is quite another and the changed culture of this Test side, for which Root and coach Chris Silverwood are responsible, has improved their chances of success all over the world.
England captain Joe Root (left) was a happy man after hitting a double century as his side won
Nasser Hussain was also impressed by Jos Buttler as England saw off Sri Lanka in the first Test
The pair have demanded big runs from their batsmen and their attack to bowl in all kinds of conditions.
Yes, they were given a leg-up by some horrendous Sri Lanka batting in the first innings, but equally England were very good at adapting.
Stuart Broad’s spell up front was exceptional and he didn’t let those standards drop throughout the match. He got three wickets with the new ball and bowled with great control.
That’s all you can ask from any seamer on that sort of pitch, in those conditions, and it set a great example to the rest of the bowlers.
England have habitually struggled to take 20 wickets in away Tests and that is why I believe spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach deserve leeway for their performances.
England faced a number of mitigating factors and excelled themselves in the circumstances
In essence, because the County Championship is played predominantly in April, May and September, and often on green pitches, they are learning on the job.
Despite Bess taking a five-for in the first innings, they both started poorly, but the real positive was that they improved. Leach, in particular, was getting the ball to come out how he would want towards the end of Sri Lanka’s second innings.
Bess needs to work hard on his control of length, something that was noticeable last summer, as batsmen of the quality India and Australia possess are unforgiving if you err.
I also think Root, who captained really well, must realise that there is a balance to be struck between trying to dry up the opposition runs and making sure men stay around the bat in Asian conditions.
You must not set the field for bad balls. For example, when Angelo Mathews came in, Leach was improving and yet there were no close catchers.
Sri Lanka did not reach their batting potential in the first innings but remain tricky opponents
A couple of balls went through gully in the air, and you need to recognise that window of opportunity to attack because, if you don’t, someone such as Virat Kohli will guarantee you rue it.
I understand that captaining two inexperienced Test spinners is tough but you have to make sure, when they land the ball in the right place, you have the field set to take advantage.
Elsewhere, this was the best I have seen from Jos Buttler as a wicketkeeper stood up to the stumps.
Standing back, he makes very few mistakes, but that hasn’t always been the case to the spinners and that first Test stumping was worthy reward for his level of performance.
Dan Lawrence’s batting adds depth when it comes to future selection.
If a player looks as good as him, you want them to prove it and that’s exactly what he did.
You don’t want the incumbents Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley on free tickets, scoring 30s and 40s, not facing pressure for their places.
Any Sri Lanka side is tough to beat in their own conditions, especially so when you head into a series undercooked, are a couple of players down due to Covid-19 and lose the toss.
That is why generally, in spite of areas requiring improvement, I thought England were outstanding.
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