Strauss’ men take a huge step in the right direction

 
Andy Lloyd
ENGLAND’S key personnel spoke eloquently in the build-up to the first Test about their desire to become the No1 ranked side in the world, and a few more performances like the one which cleaned up Sri Lanka yesterday will have me believing they can get there.

The fact that Andrew Strauss allowed Ian Bell to complete his century earlier in the day tells you he thought the possibility of victory was remote, but as soon as England scented blood they pounced.

The fact they pulled off a win without the leader of their attack, James Anderson, is perhaps the greatest source of encouragement to take from this unlikeliest of victories.

The Lancastrian has been the linchpin of this bowling unit for approaching four years, but there is a genuine strength in depth now in the pace department, with Chris Tremlett and Stuart Broad as hostile a pair as there is in world cricket right now. And below them you’ve got the likes of Ajmal Shahzad, Steven Finn and even Graham Onions offering competition for places.

Victory should, however, be tempered by the acknowledgement that this is a woefully sub-standard Sri Lankan side, who don’t travel well at the best of times, anyhow.

Should England reproduce something similar against India and then again in the subcontinent, then we can talk about them becoming the best Test side on the planet.