Andrew Strauss A quiet match with the bat for the skipper as he was undone by a rare threatening ball from Lakmal. Barring one sharp drop off Swann, his slip fielding was as exemplary as ever and his captaincy equally so; allowing Bell to make his century avoided any loss of morale and a sustained attack helped gain the most unlikely of victories.
Alastair Cook Gone is the player of twelve months ago who relentlessly fiddled outside off-stump. His century was as good as chanceless and the presence he now offers at the top of the order is more reassuring than the price of Stella Artois. Took the catch that sealed the match.
Jonathan Trott Quite simply a run-scoring machine. Attracted some ridiculous criticism for his scoring rate on day four but asking Trott to change his style is like asking Status Quo if they wouldn’t mind adding in a couple of extra chords to their repertoire. His average is now approaching freakish proportions. Ran out Maharoof fortuitously off his own bowling.
Kevin Pietersen Well well. KP dismissed by unheralded left-arm spinner. It isn’t all that simple; even with the benefit of technology, it took five full minutes for him to be given out and the ball did keep horribly low. However, his body position and approach to this most filthy style of bowling are well out of kilter. There’s no question of him losing his place – yet – but it’s an issue he has to deal with quickly. In 19 out of his last 61 Test innings, it’s the cursed left arm tweakers who’ve removed him. We’re being generous here and including Xavier Doherty in that.
Ian Bell The form of his career continues with another excellently compiled century, and how nice that he was allowed to complete the job before England’s declaration. If we were saying he was wasted at six in Australia – is he wasted at five now? Also cemented his reputation as one of the world’s best fielders at short leg.
Eoin Morgan We learned nothing about him. He isn’t great in the field, he doesn’t bowl and his innings of 14 off 19 tells us little. His time to shine, or otherwise, will come.
Matt Prior Tidy behind the stumps including a sharp catch off Swann in the second innings. Didn’t bat.
Stuart Broad Looked as ring-rusty as you would expect of a man who has played precious little cricket over the last six months. Improved steadily and wrapped up the tail in convincing and hostile fashion. Question marks still remain over a man who takes his wickets at around 35 apiece, but they’re really for another day.
Graeme Swann The world’s best spinner showed once again that even on unresponsive tracks, he offers control and a genuine wicket taking threat. At one stage he had the incredible figures of 4-0-4-4. A world class performer who will be licking his lips at the further prospect of bowling at this brittle Sri Lankan line-up.
Chris Tremlett Beginning to secure his place as a bona fide England regular. Bowled well with little luck in the first innings, but was truly devastating when Sri Lanka came out to bat what they surely would have felt would be a routine net through 51 overs. They were wrong. Is also beginning to show that he isn’t just a bang it in short merchant – his fuller length, as shown with Paranavitana’s second innings dismissal, is equally dangerous.
James Anderson Bowled beautifully early on but was cruelly sidelined by a minor side strain. He’ll miss Lord’s and most likely the Rose Bowl, not necessarily a bad thing as the important thing is to have him fit and raring to go against the Indian top order.
Tharanga Paranavitana Played a methodical innings first up against some challenging bowling from Anderson and Tremlett which indicates that he has the right temperament for Test cricket. Like so many, looked ill at ease from the off on the final day and was out for a duck, which set the tone for the eventual collapse.
Tillekeratne Dilshan A poor game for the new skipper. Threw away his wicket in the first innings when well set, then his captaincy was a litany of confusion. Mendis was barely used, he brought himself on as first change, and wasted the second new ball by bowling Herath over the wicket to the right handers. Then wasted a referral by reviewing his own dismissal in the second innings when he’d manifestly hit the ball. Big improvements required all round.
Kumar Sangakkara A modern great had a very disappointing game. Possibly unfortunate to be ruled out under the UDRS in the first innings – he almost certainly *did* hit the ball, but the supporting evidence available was flimsy. His body language in the field wasn’t the best and was comprehensively undone by Swann as all around him was falling. Sri Lanka need him to return to form, quickly.
Mahela Jayawardene Still an exceptional slip fielder, but was given a real working over by first Anderson, and secondly Tremlett to be dismissed cheaply both times. Both he and Sangakkara could well be suffering from difficulties in re-adjusting to the red ball format after a prolonged IPL spell.
Thilan Samaraweera Looked composed for his 58 before falling to Anderson’s first over with the second new ball, wiping out his previous dismal record in England. Clearly has talent but his attempted cut to Swann, given the match situation, was faintly ludicrous.
Prassanna Jayawardene A very well made century against testing bowling helped partially dispel the theory that he has been promoted beyond his abilities at number six. With such a long tail, Sri Lanka will need big contributions from him with the bat if they are to salvage anything from this series. Looked competent behind the stumps although little was offered in the way of chances thanks to an anodyne attack. In the second innings, suffered a similar fate to Sangakkara in the first innings – a UDRS decision that was almost certainly correct, but not necessarily arrived upon satisfactorily.
Farveez Maharoof The cult-hero of Lancashire’s early season looked every inch the journeyman county pro. Little more than medium pace, poor in the field (one “slide tackle” attempt to stop a boundary was laughable) and contributed little with the bat, though he was unfortunate to be run out backing up first time around. It seemed fairly clear just why he hasn’t played Test cricket for nearly four years.
Thisara Parera Willing but wicketless, Parera is the epitome of this limited and unthreatening seam attack. Could be vulnerable to the returning Dilhara Fernando at Lord’s. Did at least show some resistance with the bat in both innings, which may just save him.
Rangana Herath Failed to impress in a spell at Hampshire last season and again, it was clear why. His brand of left-arm spin is most easily comparable to the phalanx of twirlers that Bangladesh habitually field, though predictably enough, he did dismiss Kevin Pietersen. Played a truly horrible shot as the second innings came towards its close.
Ajantha Mendis The “mystery spinner” is only a mystery because it’s hard to work out why he was selected in the first place. Short on form in a brief spell at Somerset, he picked up the solitary wicket of injured nightwatchman Anderson and rarely turned the ball, and was used for a mere three overs on day four.
Suranga Lakmal Just a solitary wicket for the young seamer who did little to convince that he is a viable option at this level.