England’s white ball behemoth came to life with a simple squeeze from Sri Lanka in the first T20 of the summer.
There may have been just 3,000 fans admitted to Sophia Gardens for their first taste of international cricket here in more than two years, but they’ve been treated to a typically brutal target taunt courtesy of Jos Buttler and Jason Roy.
Despite the post IPL quarantine and home breaks with family, there was no sign of rusting in the way the two went about their business with bats in hand.
The opening duo took the biggest bite from the meager 130-point goal putting on 80 in nine overs before the Surrey whacker was brilliantly caught mid-game for 36.
Buttler barely noticed this as he deposited the ball into the River Taff on the way to 68 not out in the eighth wicket win.
With Adil Rashid picking 2-17 from his four overs with the ball, the men England will learn to try and win the T20 World Cup in October are proving precisely why this is so.
Although this wasn’t exactly the hardest challenge. Sri Lanka is eighth in the world in T20 cricket, so a visit to the backyard of the number one team was always likely to be a discrepancy and it did.
The Lankans are still looking for players to replace the world-class heroes who once won the World T20 in 2014, and this tour could be a miserable experience when they discover how far they are from the best.
England are the most dominant white-ball team in the world and a three to nil wouldn’t surprise anyone, even if they are without Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes.
The strength in depth England has in this type of cricket remains a badge of honor, so replacing these two proven artists was Chris Woakes in his first international T20 since 2015 and Liam Livingstone, another Cumbrian handyman. which makes the game seem alarming.
Woakes’ 0-14 and Livingstone’s 1-9 in the five overs they played between them gave skipper Eoin Morgan the control he wanted while some of his more familiar T20 bowlers collected wickets in an anemic inning. .
It took until 11 for Sri Lanka to collect their top six, while the seven limits they reached in total were surpassed by Buttler and Roy within the over powerplay six.
At least Dasun Shanaka gave the target some sort of lift with exactly 50, while skipper Kusal Mendis did 30, but that would never have been enough to disturb England.