Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former England batsman David Lloyd believes that captain Alastair Cook is on track to regain his form with the bat.
Lloyd’s comments come after Cook scored 34 runs in his side’s five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the third ODI in Hambantota.
“They got England off to a start at seven-an-over, which makes it easier for the lads coming in,” Lloyd said. “Cook found the middle of his bat even though he seemed to rick his back, which maybe made him just stand still.
“Cook’s a wonderful player but he’s been in dire form but he hasn’t been watching the ball carefully. He was bitterly disappointed when he nicked one through to the wicketkeeper but there’s still more to come.
“Cook is on notice about slow over-rates so we’ll just have to see what happens because if he does get penalised in this game I think he misses the next game – but we won’t know that until Thursday from the match referee.
“It’s all about the team and watching Alex Hales play at three and score at around a run-a-ball, that was a decent start for him.
“You can pick holes and say that Eoin Morgan didn’t get going again but you look at the collective and if Cook misses out, he misses out and the team carries on.
“Moeen Ali is in great nick. He’s a slight lad, a wristy player who finds the boundary with some big shots.”
Even though England won the rain-affected match by five wickets, Lloyd was not impressed with the collapse that took place towards the middle of the innings.
“England had to win,” he said. “The lads at the end there took on the responsibility of looking for the boundaries and getting the singles with clear minds.
“You’ve got to make the opposition captain work and for two matches Angelo Mathews has had a stroll in the park and he’s toyed with England but Buttler and Root put Sri Lanka under pressure in the field.
“It was a calculated innings from Buttler. I cannot stress enough that you’ve got to be clear in your mind about where you’re going to score – and you’re almost out-thinking the bowler.
“England had to win this game – they needed to stay in this series – and they’ll go to Colombo feeling much better. Mahela Jayawardene, of course, comes back into the team and that’s a big improvement for Sri Lanka but this was much better from England.”
However, Lloyd admitted that he is concerned about all-rounder Ben Stokes’ form with both the bat and ball.
“Stokes bowls really well in practice – aggressively, he hits the crease and follows through at good pace and bowls straight,” he said. “Throw him the ball in matches and he’s hesitant, he’s looking for the frontline, he’s not attacking the crease and he’s definitely not following through.
“It may be one for the team psychologist because he’s bowling fine in the nets. Stokes has got to analyse what he’s doing and the way he’s going about his business.”