The wrong Jayawardene
Sri Lanka 400 (P Jayawardene 112, Anderson 3-66) lead England 47-1 by 353 runs
The following is a report from tea on day two at Cardiff.
It’s been a strange day in Cardiff. England haven’t bowled badly, Sri Lanka haven’t batted great. There’s been posturing, poking and pontificating, and at tea we are no nearer to finding out who’s going to win this game.
The suspicion is that Sri Lanka’s batsmen have done pretty well, but may yet be let down by their bowling attack. They have certainly been bold – winning the toss and batting with five batsmen and two allrounders was gutsy, and they’ll be satisfied to have reached 300 with the potential for more.
England have alternated between menacing and anaemic – Trott opening after lunch was slightly surreal, and his bowling was sufficiently rum to raise eyebrows. Expect Paul Collingwood to look rose-tinted next time you see him. Collingwood has also been missed in the slips – Alastair Cook is a strange choice for 3rd slip given he lumbers in the lunge, while James Anderson will do well to get anywhere near Collingwood’s 18 catches off Graeme Swann.
The four man attack has had one of those days that makes them look a bowler light, especially given Anderson’s back-tweak. Anderson had bowled well for his couple of wickets, but Stuart Broad was again suffering from an identity crisis. Broad was better than yesterday, but is clearly still struggling to work out if he is a genuine quick, or a line and length bowler. Here he was most effective on the occasions he throttled back, shortened his run and asked short-leg to remove his helmet.
Broad’s mood won’t have been helped by tonsillitis, a couple of unsuccessfully referred LBW decisions and a few nicks that have flown through gaps. That 100th Test wicket remains elusive.
For their part Sri Lanka have shown none of the early tour fragility of the past – four of the top six over 50 is an impressive effort, and when the failures go by the name Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene there is scope for further success. If they are to be safe here, Prasanna Jayawardene must go on to a third Test hundred. He received good support from Farveez Maharoof before he fell victim to #trottsfault, while if Tishana Perera bowls like he bats Sri Lankan fans are in for a spicy few years.
Forty-six overs remain in this game – plenty of time for the narrative to develop, but England will know that if they’re not batting long before stumps this game is slipping away.
What happened next?
Jayawardene got his ton. So did Broady, slightly fortuitously.
Sri Lanka got 400, and England lost Strauss before the close. We’ll know much more by close of play tomorrow.
Lions, Dragons and Lord Selve
Sri Lanka close on 133-2 (Paranavitana 58*, Dilshan 50)
I’ll also be posting stuff here, so here’s the blog I did for Spin on Stuart Broad.
England in May – that famously successful month for the bang-it-in bowler. In hindsight, that England have picked two of them for this Test match, and indeed a third in their 12, looks an oversight.
They’ve got previous. As impressive as England were in Australia, there were times when sentiment clouded their selection. Adelaide stands out – Ajmal Shahzad abandoned after Steven Finn’s wickets in Brisbane. Finn’s figures had been flattering in Brissy, they were again in Adelaide, and while England won, it may have been more comfortable with skiddy Shahzad.
On early evidence in this game the beneficiary has been Stuart Broad, with Shahzad and Graham Onions right to feel aggrieved. Broad hasn’t played much cricket, and it has showed – the pace is there, but not quite the line or the length, too wide and too short. Flip his pitch map vertically and it would probably look about right for the situation – a slowish pitch with moisture and batsmen not totally used to the conditions (whatever double-century stands in both warm up games might suggest). His was a selection that makes sense in the scheme of the summer, but maybe not for England’s attempts to win this match.
However much cricket he’s played, Broad hasn’t helped himself. Yes it’s windy, yes it’s damp, and yes Dilshan pounced on anything drivable. But if you don’t ask you don’t get, and Broad’s short-pitched stuff has been like the teenager who turns up to the school-disco in Black Tie and then gets aggressively smashed in the corner by himself. He seems stuck in a short-pitched groove, but this is the SWALEC, not the SSC.
It’s had an effect on the others too – a wayward first spell necessitating a change of ends, which meant Strauss also had to switch Jimmy Anderson. Anderson, whose excellent first spell of 7-2-7-0 hadn’t yielded a single boundary, splurged three from his three overs from the Cathedral Road end.
If Broad is to convince as a Test bowler of genuine wicket-taking, match-winning consistency, he must adapt quicker – for a ‘thinking’ bowler has shown a lack of nous today. He could do worse than look at Chris Tremlett for how a tall bowler should operate in these conditions. Every short ball Tremlett has bowled has served a purpose – a softener to make the footwork more uncertain against the fuller stuff.
Still, it’s day one of 35 – plenty of cricket left to oil those rusty joints.
Sam Collins is 50% of The Chuck Fleetwood-Smiths