Jayawardene showed tourists the way but batsmen flopped

Andy Lloyd
ENGLAND’S problem is their batting approach to spin and slow pitches, and they blew this match in the first innings.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene gave them the perfect example of how to play these conditions with his immaculate first-innings century.

But instead England batted without a strategy, were too desperate and frantic in their shots, and tried to play everything as either a block or boundary.

There was no attempt at steady accumulation – apart from Jonathan Trott, whose extraordinary tally of 50 singles spoke volumes for his defiant ton.

In theory, it should be easy for England to rectify their problems for next week’s second Test, yet they keep making the same mistakes.

I rate the national set-up’s batting coaches very highly so they must be aware of the shortcomings and keen to eradicate the obsession with sweep-shots.

Selection-wise, Ravi Bopara, who played very well against Pakistan earlier this year, has to play in Colombo instead of Samit Patel.

Captain Andrew Strauss, meanwhile, must justify his own place in the side, although there is no great competition for his spot.

Strauss is struggling, as he does against this type of bowling, and, while his two Ashes wins shield him from criticism to an extent, his captaincy skills are not so good that they make him immune.

Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer, captain and chairman of Warwickshire.