James Anderson replaces Stuart Broad as England shuffle seam attack in Sri Lanka

James Anderson, right, replaces Stuart Broad, left, for the second Test
James Anderson, right, replaces Stuart Broad, left, for the second Test (PA Wire)
11:28am, Thu 21 Jan 2021
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England have recalled record wicket-taker James Anderson for the second Test against Sri Lanka, replacing Stuart Broad in the only change to a winning side.

Broad played an important role in helping the tourists take a 1-0 lead, taking three first-innings wickets and bowling with great control, but will make way for his long-term partner this week.

The pair, who boast 1,117 scalps between them, have long been expected to share the workload across England’s six sub-continental Tests this winter, rotating the job of leading the seam attack in predominantly spinning conditions.

Anderson, 38, comes in for his 157th Test having become the first paceman to reach 600 Test wickets in his previous appearance, but there are no further changes.

That means no place for Warwickshire quick Olly Stone, who had hoped to come in for Mark Wood, while left-armer Sam Curran continues in place of Chris Woakes.

England’s decision to switch their two most experienced bowlers makes marginal material difference to the make-up of the XI, with Anderson liable to play an almost identical role to Broad in the hope of similar returns.

In retaining Wood over Stone they have erred against seeing how the latter shapes up in Asian conditions ahead of next month’s India tour. For Wood, it represents a vote of confidence after playing only one of England’s six summer Tests as well as an examination of his sometimes fragile fitness.

The 31-year-old has not always been seen as a prime candidate for back-to-back five-day games but has been a more robust proposition since lengthening his run-up a couple of years ago.

Root’s focus on the eve of the match was more concerned with his side’s batting, as he stressed the importance of continuing to pile up big first-innings totals.

Since Chris Silverwood took over as head coach there has been a renewed emphasis on grinding out big scores at the start of a match, shifting from the more tempo-driven philosophy of the Trevor Bayliss years.

The plan came up trumps last time out, where Root’s relentless double century powered the tourists to a score of 421 and a lead of 286 at the mid-point of the match.

You look at the best teams at the top of world cricket right now and in the history of the game and that's what they do over and over again, make big first innings runs.

England have now reached 400 in their first knock in five of the last 10 matches – a figure they managed only once in 25 attempts across 2018 and 2019. And Root wants to turn the habit into a hallmark.

“The message will be let’s make sure we score big first innings runs, make big partnerships and get ourselves ahead in the Test match,” he said.

“If we do that we can try and dictate terms. I think it’s no secret that consistency comes from big first-innings runs. It really does set the game up for you and it gives bowlers time and opportunity to build pressure.

“You look at the best teams at the top of world cricket right now and in the history of the game and that’s what they do over and over again, make big first-innings runs. If we want to be serious about being the best team in the world then it’s something we have to replicate over and over again. It would be really good to see it continue throughout this winter and make it a real regular feat for us in this format.”

England have been preparing in full expectation of a tougher encounter over the next five days, with a day-one debacle from Sri Lanka’s top order effectively gifting them control of the first match.

The hosts have now lost five in a row at home to their visitors and Root anticipates a big improvement.

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“They are a proud team and they have a great record at this ground. Not only that, they have some very talented players,” he said.

“The way they played with the bat in the second innings was very different to the first and showed that in those conditions, they are a very hard side to break down. We know that this isn’t going to be an easy game for us. But I expect us to try and backup the last performance, if not better it.”

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