Jack Leach faces up to Sri Lanka, but England has more questions

Jack Leach faces up to Sri Lanka, but England has more questions

If England has not completed her bile puzzle yet, at least Jack Leach is a convincing case to fill one of the remaining pieces.

In just three days of the glorified game practice, several issues were resolved for a moving English team as they sought a cure for their chronic motion sickness, but also asked more questions from coach Trevor Bayliss and national selector Ed Smith.

This second warm-up, which was a 50-plus match after Thursday's washout, confirmed that Keaton Jennings confirmed his place in the first test on Tuesday alongside Rory Burns when England began to live after Alastair Cook.

The Englishman Jack Leach has Avishka Fernando from the XI

The Englishman Jack Leach has Avishka Fernando from the XI

England's Jack Leach runs Avishka Fernando from XI of the Sri Lankan CEO

Keaton Jennings confirmed his place in the first test on Tuesday alongside Rory Burns

Keaton Jennings confirmed his place in the first test on Tuesday alongside Rory Burns

Keaton Jennings confirmed his place in the first test on Tuesday alongside Rory Burns

There was also an encouraging performance, mainly with the bat of Sam Curran, who has now probably had the chance to expand his man of the series against India last summer in a harsher environment.

And it seems likely that Jos Buttler, who was in the first half of the 50-overs of the Sri Lankan Board XI, will be wearing the gloves in the absence of Jonny Bairstow, even though Bayliss has a great appetite for the quality of Ben Foakes.

However, a second ball duck and a dreadful bowling by Joe Denly could only complicate the picture for England, while it remains to be seen if Leach's belated appearance will be enough to push aside.

At least Leach could do anything he could with thirteen clean covers, whirling his left arm faster than he did at home and earning the victory of Kamindu Mendis.

The best guess at this time – and we only have three days left before England has to fight through a spin in Galle – is that Leach, Stuart Broad, Olly Stone and Chris Woakes could only compete for one place.

That is, unless England gives up his apparent plan to give Denly a test debut at 32 at # 3 and use him and Joe Root as a combined third spinner at the expense of the ever-unfortunate Leach.

Sam Curran, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes (from left to right) celebrate a wicket on Friday

Sam Curran, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes (from left to right) celebrate a wicket on Friday

Sam Curran, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes (from left to right) celebrate a wicket on Friday

Leach Bowls during his 13 attempts against the XI by Sri Lanka's Board President in Colombo

Leach Bowls during his 13 attempts against the XI by Sri Lanka's Board President in Colombo

Leach Bowls during his 13 attempts against the XI by Sri Lanka's Board President in Colombo

And Denly seemed to be doing his best to beat the competition, meaning Moeen Ali could move up to third in the middle of the Southampton test last summer and create a slot for an additional Seamer.

The bottom line is that England faces the toughest trials in this three-part series when it comes to ending a two-year infertile spell in Test Cricket outside the home, although Sri Lanka is a shadow of the team they once were.

And England is not helped by modern schedules that have given them so little time to adjust here in the Sri Lankan monsoon season, which has so ruined the white leg of this poorly timed tour.

What we do know is that Denly, who got his clue here from his former Kent team-mate Smith, did not look as good with the red ball as he did with the white who had four wickets at Twenty20 International last week.

Denly looked scratchy in the first warm-up and now, during a spell of three early wickets, fell in five balls from Lahiru Kumara, who seemed to have finished all the distant hopes that Ollie Pope had with the bile-cut.

Then Denly fought in his newly acquired second leg spin suit, which made him so much in front of Jason Roy to move here before Jason Roy. He seemed to be little more than a club bowler because he was ousted by 23 and five out of 43 in his first two Overs 23s.

Sam Curran impressed with an unbeaten 48 in England 210 for six on Friday afternoon

Sam Curran impressed with an unbeaten 48 in England 210 for six on Friday afternoon

Sam Curran impressed with an unbeaten 48 in England for 210 on Friday afternoon

At least Jennings, who played for his international life here, seemed solid when he barely made 45 to 33 laps before retiring, as did Ben Stokes, who eased his fears for fitness by making 53 and then had six up with the ball.

But the best hit of the day came from Curran, the younger one who goes on to the Test Cricket, as if he had come to the mansion, which made an unbeaten 48 for six here before sharing the new ball with Broad.

If this was a "shooting range" between one of England's most successful bowlers and an up-and-coming all-rounder, Curran seemed to gain some swing, while Broad once again had the chance to drop economically for the first time in six years. Obviously, Broad, who scored only ten for seven in the 200 of Board XI for seven, will not give up his place without a fight.

Confused? Well, England too, unless it's all part of a sly plan to keep the cards close to the chest until they show their hand after their trip to the southwest coast of Sri Lanka on Saturday.

The only thing that can be said with certainty is that Sri Lanka is a firm favorite, no matter which team England has brought out.

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