Friday , April 23 2021

"They complement each other beautifully": How England's spinners beat Sri Lanka to secure the win of the series



England's series over Sri Lanka has broken new ground in many ways.

The 2-0 points are the first defeat victory since they beat South Africa 2016, their first in Sri Lanka for 17 years and Joe Root's first victory victory as the captain in the back of his first century off England as a skipper.

But while positive is almost endless for England, with every player contributing, it is undoubtedly those who took the 20 wickets required for the victory that stole the show.

It was because for the third time only in 363 Tests England won a match without a seamer who took a wicket. Spinners accounted for 19 of the 20 Sri Lankan wickets, with Ben Stoke's outbreak of Dimuth Karunaratne in the first innings the only exception.

They did it by playing the hosts in their own games. After the win in Galle, Sri Lanka produced a dry, reversing wicket in Kandy, hoping to accentuate its traditional forces and highlight England's supposed weaknesses.

Instead, England's spinners Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach took responsibility and fought their opponents convincingly to seal a 57-win win.

James Anderson, England's highest Test wicket taker, was pleased to take a back seat, as the off-spinner, leg-spin and left-spinner took the match, with Root himself chipping in with a wicket.

"The three of them complement each other beautifully," said Root. "Jack gives a lot of control, and the fact that they all spin the ball in different ways helps. It gives many variations and gives the batter a bit of thinking all the time. When the pressure builds at one end, Mo and Rash can be very aggressive, change game and take important wickets, as they have done on so many occasions. "

The fact that England has three quality spinners of different styles are testament to the system that produced them and the selectors.

Moeen can be England's sixth most successful spinner all the time with 159 Test wickets, but a year ago, he suffered from a confident crisis that fought during 2017-18 ashes. He insisted not to be called the No1 spinner before he discovered his mojo in the summer.

Just nine months ago, Rashid had put back on first-class cricket altogether, aiming to focus on white ball format instead of "going through the moves".

At the same time, beginner Leach's eight-wicket winners in Kandy has taken him to 13 with an average of 19.5 in the last two games, despite being behind both Mason Crane and Somerset team mate Dom Bess until recently.

Somerset left has learned his trade on the spinning Taunton wicket and turned up to Sri Lanka ready to make a difference, despite bowling only 13 over in the reduced warming matches. Root has been delighted with its impact.

"The effect Jacks had, how he performed on these surfaces and has shaken the pressure for someone who has not had much experience, has been brilliant," he said.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about England's new ways to bat – how they have learned lessons in the daily environment and applied them to the Test match arena. And it was clear in Kandy like Root, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Ben Foakes held the interest high all with positive intentions.

However, it is the way England has identified, developed and implemented its spin-bowling strategy that underpinned their achievements in Sri Lanka.


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