Trent Bridge, July 6: England are fast approaching a moment of truth. When they take guard against visitors Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge for the fourth ODI of the 5-match series, they will have to demonstrate whether they are still capable of playing as a team.
So far in the series, individual glory has superseded a joint effort of the whole outfit. Though playing his role as a competent opener, captain Alastair Cook has stumbled his way through his maiden series at the helm by struggles to mould his team into an competitive unit.
Down 1-2 against the visitors and desperate for an equalising win, Cook is obliged to call upon aggression and substance that on paper spells the reliability and resilience of his fellow-batsmen. It's not surprising in this regard that six of the top ten batsman in this series are English. However, caution rather than belligerence has come to characterise the approach of the line-up, which has far from held them in good stead.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka are basking in the kind of glowing confidence that defined their part in the World Cup 2011. It doesn't matter that they have discarded old players for new, the side is still the epitome of triumphant verve. If a new-comer like Dinesh Chandimal can justify his position in the side with a overwhelming average of 110 from two matches and old guard Mahela Jayawardene continues to defy his age with a chart-topping aggregate of 228, the rest of the team's morale will no doubt be surging.
The England pace attack on the other hand is going through a rough patch, as their premier bowler in Stuart Broad impores the gods to restore him as a wicket-taker rather than a blunted "spearhead".
In the current predicament, Cook would do well to relegate Broad to the sidelines and take on another spinner like Samit Patel. After all, off-break Graweme Swann who has been England's most successful bowler this series, could well do with some support from the other end. But considering Trent Bridge is Broad's home ground, this might be the perfect venue for him to rediscover his mojo.