Anderson pleased with day's work
James Anderson was keen to praise England’s bowlers despite being frustrated by Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene on day one of the first Test in Galle.
The Lancashire seamer went past 250 Test wickets en route to figures of 3-56, including a chance of a hat-trick in the third over as he reduced Sri Lanka to 11 for two.
But Jayawardene led the recovery, using 290 balls to compile an unbeaten 168 and ensure his side reached 289 for eight at the close.
Anderson paid tribute to Jayawardene's contribution, but was also impressed by England's ability to adapt to difficult conditions.
“I thought Mahela played unbelievably well, probably one of the best Test innings I have ever seen considering no-one got much more than 20. Full credit to him,” Anderson said.
“We knew it was going to be a pretty good pitch, it looked like a pretty good pitch at the start of the day. But the guys are upbeat and, if we can bowl them out tomorrow, the bowlers will definitely be happy with their performance.
“Making best use of the new ball is crucial out here in these conditions and we did that this morning.
“(Getting early wickets) is something we have done really well over the last few years, especially in Australia. When we lose the toss we don’t get down and expect them to get runs, we try and force ourselves on the game and we did that.
“If you had given us 289 for eight this morning, we would have taken it. I think the pitch did flatten out once the ball got softer. But you cant really judge a pitch until both side’s have batted on it.”
England missed opportunities in the field to dismiss Jayawardene, who saw Anderson drop a half chance at slip off Graeme Swann and a caught and bowled before Monty Panesar gave him two more lives in the evening session.
And Anderson insists England will have to take their chances if they are to prevail in Sri Lankan conditions.
“It’s something we have pointed out at the start of this trip,” he said. “It can be very difficult to get 20 wickets out here, you have to take the half chances, and that was maybe a half chance I should have got to.
“The others were very getable chances. It’s frustrating when catches go down because the bowlers work so hard to get something out of the pitch, it’s unfortunate when they go down.”
Sri Lanka collapsed to 15 for three, but their skipper struck 20 fours and a trio of sixes to thwart England.
Jayawardene was typically modest, reflecting afterwards on his 30th Test century.
“In the first session, I had to just dig deep purely because we lost wickets,” he said. “That gave me the mindframe to just hang around rather than playing my shots.
“Then we got into a situation where we were losing wickets and I had the licence to play a few shots - so that probably helped. So during the course of the game different situations probably helped my innings.”
Jayawardene added: “It’s a beautiful wicket. You want to put runs on the board, but losing three wickets up front. I thought Jimmy bowled pretty well, put a lot of pressure on us. But we just had to bat through. I think 300 is not too bad after where we were.”