Monday, 26 March 2012

The Heat Is On - Sri Lanka v England

England set off in their quest rediscover the Test form that brought them to the top spot in the rankings last year.  It may only be the New Zealand weather that has ensured that they have held on to that ranking - the rain frustrated South Africa's attempts to whitewash New Zealand, a feat they looked well capable of in the spaces between the rain storms.

Feeling the heat
England, meanwhile, come out of a disappointing Test series against Pakistan, where they were undone by spin and more spin, into an environment that will give them a lot more of that nasty medicine.  After the last Test at Galle, Sri Lanka against Australia at the start of September, the pitch was reported to the ICC.  The report criticised the amount of turn, especially early in the match, which it said was excessive.  So, England watch out.

What are England's chances? England's batting may have recovered a bit from their UAE ordeal - Strauss and Cook were strong in the warm up games,  KP was majestic in the one dayers and Trott is still Trott.  But Ian Bell remains a big worry and still seemed below par in the warm ups.  There is still a doubt about Bopara and the selectors may fancy giving Patel a run.  The heat should allow him to shed a few more pounds.  There is no worry about the bowling - and with Patel they would go in with a 3 spin option as both Swann and Panesar will play.  Monty has grabbed back the top spinner spot and may well be the dominant force in the Sri Lankan conditions.

Sri Lanka continue to rely on senior batsmen and face challenges in replacing Murali and Malinga.  Mathews is also now out.  They were shaky in England last summer and unconvincing in South Africa recently.  But their senior players can make things tough for any opposition.  If England can master the turn they have a good chance of winning - something that has eluded them in Sri Lanka since 2000-01.

Outside the cricket the main issue seems to be the heat.  It was reported that over 400 bottles of water a day were being consumed by the team during the practice matches.

Sweltering home and a song in the air...
Heat is one thing - but humidity is another beast altogether.  The East of Scotland cannot be described as an overly humid environment - for which FB is hugely thankful.  FB's greatest exposure to humidity was a few years ago when he had to visit Washington DC in July. Temperature was in the 90s; so was the humidity.  The slightest muscular effort, such as blinking am eye, was enough to drown FB in sweat. But mad dogs and Scottish people go out in the midday sun, and the effort has to be made...........but the nature of FB's business there meant he had to wear the kilt all day.   These were conditions not taken into account by the originators of the kilt more accustomed to rain and wind topped off with wind and rain.  The gentle stir of air off the Potomac was a relief to FB's bare knees but his lower torso was tightly wrapped for 12 hours in several layers of heavy woollen cloth.  Furnace conditions.  As for his feet held in thick woollen socks..................England's fielders get off lightly.

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