Towering trio threaten Sri Lanka at Lord’s


England are poised to field the tallest ever pace trio in the second test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s starting on Friday against a side who showed a woeful inability to deal with the short-pitched ball in Cardiff.
Steven Finn looks certain to join Chris Tremlett and Stuart Broad in a three-pronged attack calculated to be marginally taller on aggregate than West Indies speedsters Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop were in the 1990s.
Finn is next in line to take over from James Anderson who has been ruled out of the Lord’s test because of a side strain which prevented him bowling in Sri Lanka’s second innings in the first test.
In his absence England’s three remaining specialist bowlers needed only 24.4 overs to dismiss Sri Lanka for 82 and record an astonishing innings victory in a match which seemed doomed to end in a draw.
Although Jade Dernbach was added to the squad on Tuesday as a direct replacement for Anderson, England team director Andy Flower indicated Finn would play on his Middlesex home ground after losing his test spot in the Ashes series in Australia five months ago. “Finn looks good to me,” Flower told reporters. “Physically he looks big and strong now, less like a boy and more like a man. He’s got a very good chance of playing at Lord’s.”
Tremlett set up England’s amazing victory in the first test on Monday when he wrecked the Sri Lanka top-order batting after 160 overs had been lost to rain.  Given the new ball, he bowled with the relaxed menace and steepling bounce displayed by Steve Harmison at his brief peak to dismiss both openers cheaply as well as Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka’s most technically accomplished batsman. Sri Lanka’s abject capitulation exposed the flaws in a team who have reached the last two 50-over World Cup finals but who possess a poor test record outside the Indian sub-continent.
Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, both former captains and the team’s two best batsmen, did not contribute in Cardiff after arriving late because of their Indian Premier League commitments.
Sri Lanka coach Stuart Laws said the problem of the batsmen was not skill but their mental approach on the final day after posting 400 in their first innings. He also said he did not think the strategy of playing five specialist bowlers in order to try to force a result had been wrong. “We have to come up with better plans on how to attack and defend,” he said. “It’s difficult trying to get into the mindset of getting forward to a half volley that’s hitting you in the chest.
“But that’s what we’ve got to face and our players are skilled and talented enough to work it out.
“I don’t think the combination we played in Cardiff was wrong, we just didn’t play well for 25 overs. Sri Lankan cricket should never go into its shell,” added Australian Laws. “Our players should always think positive because when they think positive they think clearly and that’s half the battle won.”
England’s success in Cardiff means they have now won eight of their last 11 tests, six of them by an innings.
Their only minor concern before the showpiece match at Lord’s is Kevin Pietersen’s continued fallibility against left-arm spin.
Pietersen fell to Rangana Herath for three in Cardiff, his 19th dismissal by a left-armer in 61 tests.
“He’s had his obvious battles playing left-arm spin but he is aware of them and is working hard at them,” said Flower. “He has had a few ups and downs but I don’t envisage this problem continuing. He is very close to scoring heavily against all types of bowling.”