Saker takes balanced view of bowling
England fast bowling coach David Saker put into perspective Sri Lanka’s batsmen making his charges toil for much of their innings so far in the second npower Test at Lord’s.
Captain Tillakaratne Dilshan led by example with an international-best 193 as the tourists advanced from 231 for one overnight to 372 for three before rain more than halved the day’s play.
Saker emphasised that Andrew Strauss’ side knew the size of the task ahead of them, despite bamboozling Sri Lanka for 82 at Cardiff on Monday.
He said: “Some credit has to go to the Sri Lankans; they’ve batted particularly well and the wicket was quite flat. We scored 480 on it so we knew it was going to be hard work.”
Saker also highlighted England’s failure to bowl well as a group as critical to letting Sri Lanka move 114 behind with seven first-innings wicket intact.
However, he also accentuated positives such as Steven Finn’s final spell that included Dilshan’s wicket.
“The last 12, 18 months we’ve set extremely high standards and the last two days has been nothing like those standards,” he added.
“We’re disappointed, the bowlers are disappointed but it’s good that last hour we showed some fight and we fought back.
“Steven Finn in particular showed some really good rhythm in that last hour.”
Saker, who took his role with England in April last year, saw areas to work on with his seamers.
“For the first time I would probably say there are some technical issues there,” he continued. “I’ve never seen this team bowl so many balls down the leg side. We might have to address those.
“We felt the Sri Lankans put us under a lot of pressure early and we probably didn’t respond that well to that.
“Steven Finn in particular in that last hour was really good, Chris Tremlett in patches was really good and yesterday Stuart Broad’s first spell was excellent.
“But what we usually have done in the last 12 months is bowl well together and we didn’t seem to do that; that’s the most disappointing part.”
England are missing James Anderson due to a side strain sustained in victory at Cardiff, but Saker is hopeful he will return for the final Test at the Rose Bowl from June 16.
“We’ve got a programme in place so hopefully, if he can get enough bowling in to be put up for selection, there’s no doubt he’d come back into our team,” he said.
“He’s a very important player in our team, not just his bowling. He’s a good person to have around and he helps the other bowlers out.”
There was also positive injury news for Dilshan, who was struck on his right thumb by Tremlett deliveries once at Cardiff, yesterday and today.
The blow early in the evening session yesterday forced the right-hander to go for a scan after play on day two and he needed on-field treatment following today’s knock shortly before being bowled by Finn.
“I needed an x-ray but nothing (is) broken or nothing happened and I think in a couple of day’s time I’ll be totally recovered,” said Dislhan, who confirmed he would bat again here if required.
“If I have a chance to bat for the team I will forget about what happened to my finger,” he added.
Dilshan, who recorded Sri Lanka’s highest score at Lord’s, had mixed feelings after falling seven short of a double-century and then seeing rain wipe out more than 50 overs today.
“I’m definitely disappointed but I very happy with the way I’m batting yesterday and today,” he said.
“I’m a little bit disappointed the rain came here, otherwise this match might get a result. We need a result.”