England prepare to take on Sri Lanka in the last of a two - match series - 02/04/12
England, the world’s top-ranked Test side, have found the going tough against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in spin-friendly conditions this winter but Andrew Strauss’ men will be desperate to avoid a record of played five lost five when they take on Sri Lanka in the last of a two-match series on Tuesday. There were signs during the Galle Test that certain key players were returning to form, none more so thanGraeme Swann, whose 6-82 return in the second innings has catapulted him to the top of both the overall and Test England FTI MVP rankings. Swann, who has been England’s most valuable player across the last four seasons, will hope to add this winter’s FTI MVP crown to the ones he won in 2010 and 2009-10. He currently leadsKevin Pietersen by 12 points in the overall rankings and Stuart Broadby 4 points in the Test rankings. Swann has scored 172 runs and taken 29 wickets across all forms, 130 and 19 of which have come in Test cricket.
Broad will miss the Colombo Test with a calf injury and with Monty Panesar and Jimmy Anderson 19 and 23 points adrift of Swann in third and fourth respectively it looks like Swann has the winter Test FTI MVP in the bag. The overall FTI MVP looks an altogether closer affair with Pietersen within striking distance and no doubt keen to capture his first overall title. Pietersen’s highest overall finish was second, which he accomplished back in 2008-09 and 2008 but more recently injuries have taken their toll and 7th has been his highest placing (2011).
If Pietersen is to mount a challenge to Swann, he will need to show better form than he has managed in the four Tests so far this campaign. He is currently ranked 10th in the Test FTI MVP with a best score of 32 from 8 Test innings and an aggregate of just 100 runs. He is more than capable of turning his form around, though, as he showed in the one-day series against Pakistan where he staved off calls for him to be dropped with belligerent hundreds in the last two matches. Those knocks of 111 of 98 balls and 130 off 153 balls saw him rise to third in the overall ODI FTI MVP rankings before he then cemented his position at the top of the t20 FTI MVP.
Panesar’s resurgence in England colours has been spectacular. His last Test prior to the winter was the Ashes opener of 2009 when he and Jimmy Anderson salvaged an unlikely draw against the old enemy. He has taken 16 wickets in just 3 Tests including 6-62 and 5-124 in consecutive matches against Pakistan. A big haul in the last Test of the winter could see him take the Test FTI MVP although second spot is more likely.
Jimmy Anderson, who has finished fourth in the last four FTI MVP campaigns, has been his consistent self all winter and starts the Test FTI MVP 5 points behind Monty. Swinging the new ball and reversing the old one, Anderson has taken 14 wickets in far from favourable conditions. He took 5-72 in Galle to give England a foothold in the game and chipped in with 23 runs in the first innings as England succumbed to Rangana Herath to be bowled out for 193.
The winner(s) of both the overall and the Test FTI MVP will be crowned at the end of the Colombo match, when England will have hoped to have levelled the series.
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To keep up to date with the PCA England MVP, visit www.thepca.co.uk . The leader board will update after the last game finishes of any round of matches.