I decided to start a new game of ICC 2002 today, taking charge of England (on Normal skill level). I picked an extremely experimental team for the first test against Sri Lanka. It was:
Thats right, seven debutants in the first test of the season. Critics were scathing of the team selection before the match, with the likes of Hick, Ramprakash, Gough and Hussain all overlooked for younger talent. Only two front line pacemen (both on debut), a "workhorse" spinner, and an out-of-form allrounder Flintoff in the bowling department.
Sri Lanka ominously won the toss and elected to bat, in perfect batting conditions. Hutchison started brilliantly though, with two early wickets, dangermen Jayasuriya & de Silva gone with just six runs on the board. Harmison & Giles chipped in with a wicket each to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 4-68 at lunch.
Atapattu & Kalu righted the ship however, and Atapattu scored a brilliant, if patient, 140. Despite the middle order resistance, the tail was cleaned up, with Sri Lanka managing 297; a great effort from the makeshift England attack.
Day 2 saw poor weather, including 90 minutes lost due to rain. The England new boys fought valiantly however, all of them getting at least 40. No one really went on to a big score though, with Bassano & Mann sharing top score with 63. The tail didn't last long, but England still had a commanding lead of 71 on a wicket which was offering lots of assistance to the pacemen and spinners.
Sri Lanka put themselves back in the drivers seat with Atapattu and Jayasuriya hammering the bowling attack in the second innings, putting on 135 for the first wicket. The England bowlers then destroyed the Sri Lankans, taking 10 wickets for just 60 runs, Harmison on fire taking 4 and Hutchison taking 3. This left England with just 125 runs to win in their second innings with almost two days to play.
This was when the lack of experience crushed England. Murali, after a very average first innings performance, destroyed England to take 6-33, and England collapsed to an embarrasing 72, noone scoring more than 13. The critics pounded England for managing to lose from such a dominant position; however, the coach said that the new boys had performed admirably and they would've learned a lot from the match.