Nevertheless, the likes of West Indies, Australia and even New Zealand (as they so ably demonstrated in Hobart last week) have the bowling firepower that means on any given day they can win their respective sides a Test match.
Sri Lanka do not have that luxury and actually seem to be plunging alarmingly quickly towards Bangladesh territory.
Their top six is as good as most other sides, which has helped them save Test matches at the Rose Bowl, Pallekelle and Abu Dhabi over the last few months. Indeed, if you had to choose between England’s top six and the Sri Lankan top six that was on show at Centurion, it wouldn’t be an easy decision and one might be tempted to go for the latter on a sub-continental track.
But whilst a good batting line-up can help set-up or save a Test match it is invariably the bowlers that win it for you. England have the perfect balance; Sri Lanka sadly don’t.
It is clearly not a coincidence that Sri Lanka have now failed to win a single Test match in the 15 they have played since Muttiah Muralitharan’s glorious curtain call at Galle 17 months ago. With Chaminda Vaas also retired and Lasith Malinga not available for Tests, their bowling attack is about as threatening as an army equipped with catapults and stones on the modern battlefield.
The top six didn’t bat well at Centurion, but the comparison between the home bowling attack and Sri Lanka’s was as wide as the Pacific Ocean. The lack of any sign of venom on the bowling front puts the batsmen under an obscene amount of pressure and they cannot be expected to always be able to bale out the side.
As Kumar Sangakkara so wonderfully articulated in his Cowdrey Lecture, Sri Lankan cricket is in crisis through a combination of mismanagement, greed and corruption. This has seen the players not being paid and has also seen the legacy provided by the likes of Murali and Vaas squandered away.
Dark days would seem to lie ahead.
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