Somewhat fittingly, a series that never really inspired as a contest ended with a match pretty well set up for the final day, and one England would probably have won by close to the expected margin, ruined by fifth day rain. Bairstow continued his prolific form (with the bat at any rate) and England reaped the benefits of their long tail again with 189 runs coming in the last four wickets. The lead was extensive, but the second innings collapse meant the declaration was hopeful rather than aggressive. Not that it mattered.
Sri Lanka end the series with plenty of questions over their batting, and no clear answers before Australia tour in late July. England's own batting is deep but a bit fragile, though Hales is finding his feet at the top, and might finally settle as a partner for Cook if they keep faith in him. The ratings put the English fourth, but as has been the recent norm, their is little to choose between the top five.
Unlike the previous tourists, Pakistan represent a real threat to England winning, with both an upward trajectory in the ratings, and the tools to cause problems. They return to England a very different team to the mess of Salman Butt; unpretentious and tenacious but capable of sailing with favourable winds. Mohammad Amir might be lucky to be on the park, but if he is anything like the precociously talented bowler of swing at pace that he was five years ago he will precipitate at least one collapse. Pakistan have an old team that nevertheless seems to be getting better. Yasir Shah could cause problems on dry wickets, while unlike most tourists, we ought to expect Misbah and Younis to handle adverse conditions.
The absence of Anderson on the other side puts a lot of pressure on Broad to carry an otherwise potted attack. Finn is capable but the others are raw, and that holds true of much of the batting as well. The absence of Stokes (those 17 Tests last year are looking increasingly unwise) marginally reduces both the batting and bowling.
That said, England have plenty of talent in their youthful ranks, and at home they should always be strongly favoured. Expect Pakistan to challenge in at least a couple of Tests, without prevailing overall.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don`t play each other.
Idle Summers 14th July, 2016 01:37:26 [#]