England vs. Sri Lanka: Player Ratings for Alastair Cook's XI After 1st Test
England and Sri Lanka fought out a thrilling draw in the first Test of the summer at Lord's, as a match that had appeared to be heading towards a dull conclusion sparked itself to life on the final afternoon.
Needing to claim all 10 Sri Lankan wickets on Day 5, a draw looked to be the only possible result when the visitors reached lunch for the loss of just one wicket.
But Alastair Cook's side were able to chip away at the tourists' batting line-up throughout the afternoon, resulting in a dramatic final 30 minutes in London that saw Sri Lanka escape in the final over with just one wicket remaining.
Such an exciting finish looked like a pipe dream for much of the Test, as first England and then Sri Lanka reached totals of 575-9 and 453, respectively.
Despite failing to capture the victory, however, the result will also be viewed as a small step in the right direction for this England outfit, given the tumultuous period the team has gone through since the 2013-14 Ashes disaster in Australia.
Across the following slides, we rate each of England's players for their performances across the Test.
Criteria and Explanation of Ratings
- First-innings runs carry more weight than those scored in the second innings.
- Runs scored in difficult situations are valued more highly than runs compiled when a team is well in front.
- The captain will be judged on his performance in the field in addition to his other contributions with bat or ball.
- Moments of brilliance or game-defining acts are looked upon favourably.
- Performing to a high standard in conditions that don't suit a player's skill set boost a player's rating.
- Acts of poor judgement, rather than poor execution, significantly hurt a player's rating.
- Ratings are also given based on what is possible in a wider context. For example, a player who scores a century isn't automatically awarded the top rating, given that a superior performance could be realistically attainable in a subsequent match.
Before employing a rating system, it's important to outline the key criteria used to award those ratings.
Of course, sheer weight of runs and wickets will largely determine a player's match rating. However, the following factors also have a significant bearing on the rating of each player:
With the bat: 17, 28
Alastair Cook's struggles with the bat continued against Sri Lanka at Lord's, as the captain's technical issues on the front foot were again exposed.
Looking unsure coming forward in the first innings, the left-hander went searching for a back-foot cut that wasn't there, dragging the ball onto his stumps.
In the second innings, Cook was removed in a manner very reminiscent of countless of his dismissals in Australia, nicking a full delivery just outside his off-stump to the keeper.
In the field, the England leader continued to frustrate onlookers with his unwavering conservatism, which saw Cook regularly deploy sweepers on each boundary despite a huge first-innings lead.
His incredibly safe declaration also proved to be an error of judgement, as another 10 overs would have surely secured victory for his side.
With the bat: 1, 19
Sam Robson endured a tough Test debut at Lord's against the Sri Lankans, despite starring regularly at the venue for Middlesex in county cricket in recent seasons.
In the first innings, the right-hander was caught behind for just a single, pushing at a delivery he didn't need to play at from Nuwan Kulasekara.
A laboured scrap for 19 then ensued during England's second dig, before Shaminda Eranga snuck one through the gate to rattle the 24-year-old's stumps.
Robson, of course, should be afforded the opportunity to cement his place, but the team's selectors will be looking for an improvement from the opener at Headingley.
With the bat: 23, 104*
Gary Ballance's first-innings performance inspired little confidence in his capacity to entrench himself as England's new No. 3 in Test cricket.
With a reluctance to push forward, it seemed that the left-hander was the owner of a decisive technical fault—the very issue which cost him his wicket.
However, those concerns were quelled by Ballance's composed second-innings century.
At a time when his teammates were wobbling around him, the Zimbabwean-born batsman knuckled down and battled out a fine hundred to restore England's control of the match.
With the bat: 56, 9
When England's team for this first Test was announced, Ian Bell stood as the only member of Cook's XI who possessed genuine middle-order pedigree.
Thus, as the home side lost three wickets in the first session on Day 1, the 32-year-old owned an enormous burden to ensure England didn't squander the contest on the opening afternoon.
Shouldering that responsibility, Bell guided his team away from trouble with a typically smooth 56 that included seven fours and one lovely six.
And despite failing to reach double figures in his subsequent effort, the right-hander's rating remains strong given the importance of his first-innings contribution.
With the bat: 200*, 15
With the ball: 0/7, 0/7
Joe Root obviously likes playing at Lord's. Against Australia in 2013, the emerging batsman reached a memorable 180 at the home of Test cricket.
This year, the baby-faced Englishman went even better, stroking a masterful and unbeaten double-hundred to steer his team from uncertainty and into a dominant position over the first two days.
Most impressively, the right-hander made a conscious effort to eradicate the problem that has plagued his game since that 180 against Australia, pushing forward with large strides onto the front foot to meet the ball earlier.
After 12 months of moving up and down the order, Root may have just found his position.
With the bat: 48, 4
With the ball: 1/56, 0/35
Another of England's debutants, Moeen Ali's performance at Lord's was a difficult one to evaluate.
With the bat, the stylish left-hander compiled a promising 48 in the first innings, but played a careless shot to be bowled for just four in the second innings to briefly hand the initiative to Sri Lanka.
With the ball in hand, the off-spinner bowled with nice flight and drift, yet couldn't muster the turn required to trouble the opposing batsmen.
Certainly, Moeen's presence in the team is owing to his multi-discipline abilities, but he'll need to be able to prove he's capable of holding down his position in one skill alone to avoid being a stop-gap in this England team.
With the bat: 86, 16
With the gloves: 7 dismissals
Matt Prior's Test at Lord's was a matter of tiny margins. Despite scoring 102 runs across two innings in the match, the wicket-keeper could have easily recorded a wretched pair.
Somewhat fortunate to escape close calls in either innings, Prior cashed in on the degree of luck he's craved during a barren 12 months in the game to produce a necessary, confidence-boosting performance.
Importantly, it was Prior's fluent contribution that helped propel England to their huge total of 575-9 across the first two days of the game.
And given that calls for Jos Buttler's inclusion in the team have continued to grow throughout Prior's slump, the 32-year-old might have just prolonged his stay in his nation's XI for the foreseeable future.
With the ball: 3/102, 2/34
With the bat: 19, 35
In the same vein as his impressive limited-overs performances in recent months, Chris Jordan made a bright Test debut for England at Lord's.
Operating with a nice blend of hostility and accuracy, the bustling right-armer claimed five wickets in his first appearance in this format, admirably charging in on a rather docile strip in North West London.
Jordan was also extremely useful with the bat, scoring a total of 54 runs and providing enough evidence to prove he could become a versatile bowling all-rounder in Alastair Cook's team.
With the ball: 1/67, 3/43
With the bat: 47, 24
Like Jordan, Stuart Broad's unrelenting energy was on show in the first Test, despite the presence of an unfavourable wicket at Lord's.
Although the tall right-armer couldn't conjure a way through the Sri Lankan line-up in the first innings, Broad was one of the catalysts in England's late push for victory on Day 5.
Indeed, it was he that almost claimed the two required wickets in the game's final over, only to be denied by a review from Nuwan Pradeep on the second last delivery of the match.
The 27-year-old also provided a reminder of his lower-order talents with the bat, crunching 71 combined runs to help take the game away from the visitors.
With the ball: 2/116, 0/39
With the bat: 39, 2*
Liam Plunkett was the first genuinely fast bowler to be used this summer, as England continue their search for an answer to Australia's Mitchell Johnson.
Brought in to provide the sort of short-burst, high-energy impact that made the Australian a dominant figure in the recent Ashes contest, Plunkett's presence felt a little experimental at Lord's.
Certainly, the sharp right-armer could still be considered a work in progress at this stage, with the 29-year-old claiming just two wickets for the match.
Alastair Cook's usage of Plunkett also indicated that the Yorkshire seamer is viewed as an equivalent to Johnson or South Africa's Morne Morkel, given that a short-pitched barrage to a largely leg-side field appeared to be the predominant angle of attack for Plunkett.
With the ball: 3/93, 4/25
With the bat: 9*, DNB
James Anderson was England's standout bowler at Lord's against Sri Lanka, claiming seven wickets on an incredibly flat surface, doing so at a miserly economy rate.
It's clear that the long layoff following the disastrous Ashes campaign has been beneficial for the seamer, as Anderson appeared to have recaptured the nip and bounce that made him almost unplayable for Australia at Trent Bridge in 2013.
It was also Anderson who drove England towards an unlikely victory on Day 5, claiming the big wickets of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews.
For Alastair Cook's team to be successful against Sri Lanka and India this summer, Anderson must be kept fresh and relieved from the heavy burden he regularly shoulders in this England outfit.