After a disappointing World Cup and two ordinary performances against Sri Lanka, England’s bowlers have certainly come in for some criticism and rightly so.
England’s seam attack has no variation in batting-friendly conditions and has been found out by the Sri Lankans, who hammered England by 10 wickets in the World Cup and then moved into a 2-1 lead in the NatWest Series.
England, sports betting favourite for the series beforehand, went 1-0 ahead at the Kia Oval and then levelled up at Trent Bridge both in seaming conditions that clearly shows they are a force on English-type wickets but suffer when facing sides on a flat pitch, offering no swing. Graeme Swann is the exception as his off-spin certainly ties down batsman and gets key wickets in the middle overs.
James Anderson, who had a terrible World Cup following a successful Ashes series, has improved this one-day series and certainly tidied up his bowling as well as claiming key wickets. The Lancashire paceman has started cut down on the amount of four balls given which he put on a plate to batsmen in the disappointing World Cup campaign.
Fatigue looked to have played a part in that tournament but now he is refreshed he looks to be improving all the time. His bowling in swinging conditions is vital at the start and when pitches are not offering him any assistance; he has learnt to bowl economically, which can’t be said for the rest of his colleagues.
Tim Bresnan, who England rely on for control, always seems to go for runs against Sri Lanka, much like his debut five years ago when the tourists hammered him all over the field. The Yorkshire seamer has improved since then and was one of the positive things to come out of the sub-continent at the start of the year but since then seems to bowl too full.
Mahela Jayawardene drives to the boundary in the powerplays off Bresnan on a regular basis and needs to pull his length back and become less predictable in batsmen-fiendly conditions.
Stuart Broad is starting to come in for criticism for the first time in his internationals career. No wickets in the three games suggests the Nottinghamshire bowler is having a dip in form and, after taking on the t20 captaincy, may start to decline under the pressure. Two wickest at Nottingham lifted his spirits but both were soft dismissals.
His temperament has come in for some slack again, along with the fact he is prone to bowling too many bouncers, and with Steven Finn and Chris Woakes waiting in the wings, it may be time to give Broad a rest in order to freshen up and recapture his form.
Jade Dernbach is just starting his international career but had a terrible debut in the t20 at Bristol and has failed to impress on flat wickets, albeit the first and third one-day international again in swinging conditions, at his home ground. Dernbach has always gone round the park at county level but has been brought into the side because of his variation.
However, Sri Lanka look to sussed his slower balls and have no problem picking it, unlike the England batsmen against Sri Lankan counterpart Lasith Malinga.