England’s innings-and-88-run win against Sri Lanka was “men versus boys”, according to Geoffrey Boycott.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad shared 15 wickets in the match as England completed the 13th-fastest victory in terms of balls bowled in Test history.
“Anderson and Broad had the conditions and Sri Lanka are inexperienced,” said former England batsman Boycott.
“I don’t care who played, they would have struggled in those conditions against two fine bowlers.”
Anderson took his second five-wicket haul in two days with Sri Lanka bowled out for 119 just after tea on day three of the first Test at Headingley.
The Lancashire bowler ended with match figures of 10-45 as England took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Redemption for Anderson
Two years ago, at the same venue and against the same opponents, Anderson was left in tears after being dismissed from the penultimate ball of the match to give Sri Lanka a series win.
The 33-year-old, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, also struggled on England’s tour of South Africa this winter, managing only seven wickets in three matches.
In Leeds, he was a constant threat, expertly using the assistance on offer to swing the ball prodigiously, and claiming his third Test 10-wicket haul.
“I wasn’t myself in South Africa,” Anderson told Test Match Special. “It was nice to have a couple of months after that and I worked on some things with Lancashire. I’m delighted to carry that on here.”
Boycott, who played 108 Tests for England, added: “I never felt there was a problem with Anderson so long as he got match bowling.
“He’s bowled 100 overs in the Championship for Lancashire this season – I always feel the older you get, the more overs you need, not less. He looks in great shape and there’s still miles in his legs.”
Jonny Bairstow was named man of the match for making 140 with the bat and taking nine catches behind the stumps, the first England player to complete such a double.
“He was batting on a different wicket to the other 21 players in this match,” said England captain Alastair Cook. “Everyone else was struggling to drive, but every time they pitched it up he whacked it for four.
“It’s great to see a guy realise his talent and fulfil it on the international stage. The first time I saw him I thought he would play for England and he’ll go from strength to strength.”
For Bairstow, a first Test hundred in the UK came on his home ground of Headingley and follows his maiden century against South Africa earlier this year. He has also made scores of 246 and 198 for Yorkshire this season.
“I’m confident and in good form,” he said. “I enjoy playing here but I wouldn’t say it was easy out there. It was tough.”
England assistant coach Paul Farbrace also admitted that Bairstow’s form has led to discussions about moving higher than his current spot of number seven in the batting order.
“When he plays like that, he could easily bat in the top five,” Farbrace told Sky Sports. “I’m sure he will end up higher but, at the moment, having him at seven suits the way we want to play.”
More misery for Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka, touring England for the first time since batting greats Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara retired from international cricket, have little time to regroup, with the second Test at Chester-le-Street beginning on Friday.
“I don’t think they will get much sunshine in Durham,” said Boycott. “Sri Lanka have to hope the ball doesn’t move about as much. If the ball moves the same amount again, they will lose.”
Captain Angelo Mathews, who made a century in their win at Headingley two years ago, conceded that his team must examine their approach to batting in English conditions.
“We have to make that mental change,” said the all-rounder. “It’s a matter of being positive and coming up with a good strategy. We have to score runs, that’s the bottom line.
“We don’t have the two legends now so it’s up to all of us to step it up. We have seven good batters, but it’s just inexperience.”
Any issues for England?
All-rounder Ben Stokes suffered a knee injury on the second day and did not bowl on Saturday. He will be assessed by medical staff on Sunday with the England squad for the second Test on his home ground expected to be announced later in the day.
If he fails to be fit, then Farbrace said Chris Woakes is one possible replacement, or that England could shuffle their batting order and play an extra bowler.
While opener Alex Hales played his most impressive Test innings to date with a disciplined 86, under-pressure number three Nick Compton only managed a three-ball duck and debutant James Vince, batting at five, contributed just nine.
“Hales was a shining light,” said Boycott. “Full marks to him showing great application.
“It shows he is prepared to work really hard to stay in the team. If you’re prepared to do that, you’ve always got a chance of making it.”
Captain Cook’s wait to become the first England player to reach 10,000 Test runs will also stretch to Durham, with the left-hander edging behind for 16, 20 short, on the first morning.
“I thought it was there to drive, but it shows the fine margins in batting,” said Cook. “I’m frustrated, I’d love to get 10,000 out of the way. Hopefully I can do it in Durham.”