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    So, Woakes replaces Stokes. He's had a good couple of matches with Warwickshire, and he'd easily get in any county attack right now, but the man is just not international Test level. I really like Woakes. He's an honest cricket, a bits and pieces guy, but he should be nowhere near the international Test scene.
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    Wow. SL drop Shanaka, despite his three-wicket haul on the opening morning at Headingley.

    England win the toss and will have a bat. It looks like bowling conditions to me, to be honest. You imagine Jimmy and Broad would have relished the chance to get at SL with the overcast skies and cold bite.

    Or maybe Alastair Cook chose to bat because he wants to knock off the last 20 runs on the road to 10,000? The ball will certainly move around. I think it's a brave call.
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    I would not have opted to bat, but the score today and possibly up to 350 or so tomorrow will give England a platform to build on.
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    A better day for England, I think.

    It's really annoying to see Hales consistently get these 80s. He's such a fine cricketer, but he needs that maiden hundred - purely for himself, as much as anything else. It'll give him confidence, allowing him to be more free when he gets his next start.

    Root batted superbly today and was undone by a real wrong'un of a bounce. In truth, SL bowled pretty poorly - bar Siriwardana. They fielded magnificently, though. And it must have taken real strength of character, and strength of mind, to do that in some difficult Chester-le-Street conditions. The whole day seemed geared up to an England domination: the grey skies, clouds and biting cold.

    I was shocked when Cook decided to bat. He must have done it to try and make a game of it, plus the record of 10,000 runs must have been on his mind. He'll be gutted to finish 5 shy - but not as gutted as Bairstow, who finished just two shy of a half-century.

    Each England cricketer today, bar Root and Bairstow, gave their wickets away. The biggest culprit was Compton. Sure, it was a magnificent catch on the boundary (one of many, it must be said! The one to dismiss Hales was a pearler) but what was he playing at playing that shot? The man is under considerable pressure anyway, and a shot like that is hardly a glowing endorsement of him being England's long-term innings anchor.

    Still, 310 is an impressive score - and you'd wager England to get 400+ with Moeen at the crease, and Woakes still to come.

    Once that's been achieved, I worry for SL. The conditions are made for Jimmy and Broad.
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    I've heard it was a dry pitch and there are signs of uneven bounce also Cook spoke about overhead conditions expected to be the same throughout so I guess that's his justification and I understand his choice.

    But I still would've bowled mostly because I think Sri Lanka would prefer to face a deterioating pitch on the 4th/5th day (more similar conditions to Sri Lanka) then a pitch thst might offer substantial early movement. Either way I don't think the decision whether right or wrong will prove costly
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    Oh dear, SL are 70-6.

    I hope we do not estimate Pakistan after what may be a fairly easy series win, it seems.
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    Chuffed for Woakes. He's proving me wrong.
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    No talk of Moeen? Ourstanding knock, after all the slack he was receiving. 150... last 100 came in 84 balls.

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    Excellent batting and much needed timing for Moeen. He had some lucky moments but took his shots nicely and got England to a safe total yet on Sri Lanka's batting it seems they might not have needed it anyway! He's calmed his critics Moeen yet will have to drop a position when Stokes return.

    Pakistan should offer up more of a challenge yet forsee a series defeat for them potentially. Just can't handle conditions in England but Inzamam becoming chief selector seems to be working well so far in terms of having a ex-cricketer making decisions based on cricket for the benefit of the team.
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    Moeen's future definitely lies further up the order. That much is clear. Him batting at 8 has done nothing but wreck his confidence. As a batsman used to batting in the opening three or four for Worcestershire, it's a waste of his talents being so low.

    I'm really chuffed for him - and largely because England and Cook's deployment of him in the previous Test match just reeked of them not knowing how to utilise him. He was placed in fielding positions of little incident, used as a bowling option only when Anderson/Broad needed a rest etc.

    But he batted magnificently today. Each four was just sublimely struck. Credit, too, for Finn, Woakes and even Anderson chipping in to help Moeen get to his hundred and way past it.

    SL's fielding on the opening day was wonderful, but it turned woeful today. Dropped catches, missed chances. It was really shoddy stuff from them - and they were no better with the bat.

    This isn't a Test for England. But Woakes proved a lot of doubters wrong. He bounded in full of confidence, showed speed and variation, and reaped the rewards.

    I've been critical of Woakes. I've been negative towards him. He doesn't strike me as a top tier international cricketer, and to be honest, I'm still not sure he is. It's SL, after all.

    But he was great today and is clearly a man full of confidence. It's telling, too, that England players say Woakes is the player they fear most when in net practice.
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    havent seen the highlights - but from what i have seen, moeen needs to bat up the order, he needs to bat with competent people, not the tail - he has technique and isnt a slogger
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    Oh, and while we're here, Mathews' captaincy was remarkable - purely because it was so bad. His decision making was questionable, but he didn't lead by example with the bat or his fielding placements.

    Really poor stuff from him. With SL lacking experience and lacking brilliant, talisman figures in Sangakkara/Jayawardene, not to mention the English conditions being stacked up against them, they need their leaders to lead and Mathews to grab games by the scruff of the neck.
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    Ali is fine down the order. If there was a spinner crying out to be picked then maybe you could move him up. Or if Ali was consistently putting together innings after innings then maybe. But neither of those are happening at the moment.

    Essentially you play Ali in the top 5 and have an extra bowler, or you play Ali at 8 and have an extra batsman. Without doubt we need the latter.
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    Worth remembering today Moeen became the fifth-fastest England player to reach the milestone of 1000 runs and 50 wickets in Test cricket.

    He's an all-rounder.

    Only Ian Botham, Tony Greig, Trevor Bailey and Ben Stokes have done it quicker.
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    Really happy for Moeen.
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    Yeah, I don't see Moeen going up the order anytime soon. Still feel he needs to really adapt to the role he has with the bat. Towards the end, he gave a single early on in the over letting Finn take some deliveries (including one in the chest) but terrific boost for him.
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    Moeen has to get used to batting at 8 - and if he does, he's a threat. He's said that, mentally, he's struggled with batting so low. But Bairstow and Stokes are special cricketers so there's little hope of him being promoted barring injury to one of that duo.

    He may not be best at 8 (look at his superior average at seven for proof) but it's a team game, after all.
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    Looks like another innings win for England.
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    This should be wrapped up today now. Compton made a right meal of taking that final catch. England were always going to start with Jimmy and Broad, but I'd have loved Woakes to have wrapped things up this morning by dismissing the last two SL batsmen to secure a five-for.
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    Moeen MOM by a mile here.
 
 
 
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