If this long and miserable winter for England's Test team has a recurring theme beyond the obvious one of being skewered by spin, it is the fact that, if you believe what you hear on TMS or on Sky, they've contrived to be repeatedly dismissed by a series of people who, by our, English, oh-so-elevated standards, can't really bowl.
During the Galle demise we had both Geoff Boycott (who at least has some experience of batting against quality bowling to fall back on) and Charles Colvile (who hasn't) dismissing the Sri Lankan attack as a scattergun collection of pedestrian journeymen. While there may be an element of truth in this - Sri Lanka obviously no longer have anyone of the calibre of Murali or Vaas and have suffered for it - they were still too good for a hot and bothered England team that swept too much, too soon and to the wrong balls, weren't (with the magnificent exception of Jonathan Trott) prepared to tough it out and finished the game with their 'World Number One' status beginning to fade into the seaside dust almost as quickly as Andrew Strauss's reputation as an opening batsman.
Boycott, of course, has previous. Shortly before he started to go through England in the UAE in January he had described Abdur Rehman as little better than a club bowler (and, in the insulated and often condescending world of the professional cricketer turned pundit, there are few greater insults).
Herath and Rehman may not be up to much, but, if they are, where on earth does that leave England's batsmen?
The reality, of course, is more nuanced. Sure, in the world of Lock or Wardle or Underwood, neither Herath nor Rehman would be bowlers who should scare anybody, but it's hardly as if the majority of England's batsmen inhabit such a bygone world either. Years of batting on uncovered roads against spinners of limited guile and variation in circumstances in which fast scoring is all, have seen to that.
Herath and Rehman can bowl. That either of them has played Test cricket with any success at all is testament to that, and they have done so for countries with rich spin bowling heritages.
Their efforts deserve a little more respect than they've been given. No wonder, in virtually any sport you can name, everyone who doesn't come from England thinks we're superior and arrogant.
Very often we are.
The Not Playing Eleven
1 day ago