Andrew Strauss: Just four runs in the match for Strauss whose middling form is starting to attract attention. He was undone both times by the left-arm seam of Welegedara, which will not have gone unnoticed by a certain Mr D Fletcher, with Zaheer Khan set to arrive in England in the coming weeks. Too early for this to be called a crisis but an average of just over 30 since last summer tells its own story. Captaincy wise, he must have been frustrated by his bowlers’ tendency to bowl on both sides of the wicket in Sri Lanka’s first innings, and he also attracted criticism for allowing the tenth wicket pair of Tremlett and Finn to bat on for half an hour on Saturday when a declaration would have left the tourists’ openers with an awkward 20 minutes to face before lunch.
Alastair Cook: Relentlessly marches on towards his seemingly inexorable fate of becoming England’s record holder for all things batting. Played an uncharacteristically loose pull shot to be dismissed for 96 first time around (one can only wonder what the reaction would have been had Kevin Pietersen done the same) but simply got on with the task again in the second innings and after Strauss’ second ball dismissal, played with great authority. His scoring rate before lunch on the final day was criticised, but you simply can’t tell a man like Cook to totally change his style; he’ll never be a dasher any more than Katy Perry will ever learn to sing in key. Dropped a simple chance at third slip which cost England 52 runs; he still doesn’t exude confidence there. Work to be done in that area if not at the crease.
Jonathan Trott: The reaction to his first innings dismissal of 2 was sheer disbelief; it simply couldn’t be true that the run automaton had fallen cheaply. In the second innings he once more teamed up with Cook to form a formidable partnership and showed with his strike rate of over 70 that he’s not a one-dimensional stodgy player. Even managed to pick up a late wicket although the game was all but dead by then.
Kevin Pietersen: Welcome back, KP. Eventually. He played yet another poorly executed stroke to be caught at gully on the opening day to leave England 22/3, a veritable crisis compared with the general scheme of things over the last 18 months. However, he appeared with steely determination on Monday evening and after a circumspect start, played a classic KP drive down the ground off Herath to just re-assert some of that familair authority. He batted nicely – and quickly – on the final day and though yet again it was the left arm spinner to dismiss him, it was a ball which would have beaten any batsman on any day. He’ll hope to build on this and make a really big score at Southampton.
Ian Bell: The feats of Messrs Cook and Trott have overshadowed what a superb international cricketer Bell has become. He played two distinct innings; the first, all about consolidation after a poor start had England severely wobbling, and though not his most fluent, he put the foundations in place for the revival. The second was Bell at his most inventive. A truly magnificent unbeaten half-century which pushed the pace of the game as England built towards a declaration. He still feels wasted at five in this form.
Eoin Morgan: Had little chance to shine at Cardiff but emphatically did so on his home ground. Showed good awareness of his off stump to the seamers and dominated against the spinners. If his place wasn’t secure for the India series before, it clearly is now. He will face more testing bowling attacks but the signs were good. Runs against Dilhara Fernando count the same as those against Dale Steyn, after all.
Matt Prior: A real shame that his excellent century has been overshadowed by WindowGate, though this tells you more about our media (and indeed the ICC, for officially reprimanding him, as if they have nothing better to do) than the seriousness of the “offence”. This was a classic Prior innings, fast scoring, taking the game away from the opposition, brutal through the offside, though it must be said that Sri Lanka were more than obliging in feeding his strengths. Rode his luck through the 90s, but he won’t worry about that. Plenty of byes conceded, but that was down to wayward bowling and the unique Lord’s conditions rather than any fundamental keeping errors.
Stuart Broad: Unflattering figures once more for Broad who still doesn’t totally convince with the ball. He was full of effort and purpose, but ultimately looked fairly innocuous and match figures of 2-154 are testament to the ease with which he was often played. Batted splendidly for his 54 in the first innings; just as well, or England’s latest captain could have found himself on the outside looking in when Bresnan and Anderson return.
Graeme Swann: A rare quiet match for Swann who struggled to find much assistance from the pitch, though he did manage to burgle a few wickets towards the end of the Sri Lankan first innings. Even the best can’t do it all the time.
Chris Tremlett: Bowled too short too often, so for the most part was economical rather than threatening. It’s easy to forget that he’s still a work in progress (this was only his eighth Test) and you would hope he would learn from this. Slightly disconcerting though that he seems to need to be told to vary his length rather than working it out for himself, though he’s not alone here. Batted nicely for his unbeaten 24; he’s no mug batting at ten.
Steven Finn: Reports that Tina Turner is considering a working of 1995’s “Goldenye” to “Goldenarm” in honour of the young Middlesex man are unconfirmed, but he seems to have the uncanny knack of picking up wickets when not bowling well. He was far too erratic in virtually all of his spells, regularly spraying the ball down the legside and failing to build pressure. Yet he became the youngest Englishman in history to reach 50 Test wickets; no mean feat. However, should Anderson prove his fitness, one would imagine that he will be the one to miss out at The Rose Bowl.
Tharanga Paranavitana: At times, evokes memories of the Bangladeshi opener Javed Omar; dogged, but strokeless. He was fortunate not to be out early on in the first innings on various occasions as ball regularly beat bat and he was put down by Cook, but he battled through to build a solid opening partnership with his captain. Played similarly well in the second innings and helped push the spectre of Cardiff (Sri Lanka’s Adelaide?) to one side. He’ll never be fun to watch, but he’s the yin to Dilshan’s yang.
Tillekeratne Dilshan: A stunning innings, utterly unconventional, at times downright reckless, but ultimately a huge success. His 193 deflated the England attack and had he not received yet another blow to the thumb from a rising Tremlett delivery, there’s every chance he’d have gone on to a double century and beyond. However, that injury will keep him out of the remainder of the series and Sri Lanka’s loss is also cricket’s loss. Question marks remain over his captaincy; an oft-used phrase in cricketing parlance is “keeping the foot on the throat” – Dilshan failed here, it’s not good enough to insert a team, have them 22/3 in the first hour and allow them to score nigh on 500.
Kumar Sangakkara: His poor record in England inexplicably continues. Never looked at ease, especially when pressed into service as an emergency opener in Dilshan’s absence and to be caught at cover is quite the sin for a top order batsman. Intriguingly, was much more inventive and indeed showed much better body language when captaining the team, and one would think that he’ll be asked to reprise the role in the final Test.
Mahela Jayawardene: A middling match for another former skipper who missed out on the chance to make a third appearance on the Lord’s honours board. Dare we suggest that at 34, we’ve seen his best days? The sense of permanence you often get from him hasn’t seemed to be there so far on this tour.
Thilan Samaraweera: Just 26 runs in the match (albeit unbeaten in the second innings) and his record in non-subcontinental conditions remains decidedly mediocre. We’ve speculated that he’s the worst batsman to ever average 50+ in Test cricket; we’ve seen nothing yet to dispel that statement.
Prassanna Jayawardene: Tidy with the bat, tidy with the gloves. None of the ultimately futile Cardiff heroics and it still could be that he’s a place too high in the order, but he’s a proper cricketer.
Farveez Maharoof: Two runs and no wickets. Not really what you’re looking for from your all-rounder. He’s only in the side because Angelo Mathews is absent, but he’s so demonstrably inadequate for Test cricket that you wonder why Sri Lanka recalled him.
Rangana Herath: In what is an anodyne attack, Herath did at least produce the ball of the match to dismiss Pietersen. His bowling is comparable to that of Ashley Giles, primarily defensive but capable of the odd bit of magic. His batting is comparable to a young Darren Gough, full of wild swishes and ludicrous follow-throughs, but fun. Taking over the reins from Muttiah Muralitharan is an unenviable task, but he’s approaching it manfully enough.
Dilhara Fernando: On both occasions used as second change, odd for the man who is easily the quickest of the Sri Lankan seamers. He does hit the gloves hard, but he was erratic and fed Morgan and Prior with too many cheap runs. Could certainly do with hitting the treadmill between now and next Thursday; he’s carrying more timber than a lumberjack.
Suranga Lakmal: Expensive and bowled far too wide on the first morning; one can only imagine that the lbw dismissals of Trott and Morgan were purely due to their surprise that he’d bowled one straight – the Mitchell Johnson principle, if you will. He’s a young man learning his game, but he has a lot of learning to do.
Chanaka Welegedara: We saw little in the way of his supposed ability to swing the ball, but he was steady enough and five wickets in a high-scoring game isn’t to be sniffed at. Does at least provide some variety to the attack and on this showing, it seems all the more odd that he was omitted at Cardiff. The experiment with bowling round the wicket to left-handers should be abandoned, though.