England's day delights Swann
Graeme Swann hailed “probably our most complete day” of a troubled Test winter after England took the ascendancy in Colombo.
Swann claimed three of the four wickets to fall this morning as the hosts were dismissed for 275. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook then shared a steady 112-run stand before the tourists closed on 154 for one.
Swann’s 3-4 today game him innings figures of 4-75. Strauss made 61 and Cook finished unbeaten on 77 with Jonathan Trott in situ.
“It was a very good day and it was the day we were all looking for,” Swann said.
“Four wickets quick and cheap was important, but probably more important for the overall vibe in the dressing room was a solid start and 154 for one.
“It’s probably our most complete day of the winter. We’ve had some very good days scuppered by bad ones but this was a very good all round day.”
Strauss and Cook laid the foundations for a decisive first-innings lead, in contrast to 193 all out in England’s first effort at Galle.
“It was just what the doctor ordered, especially after the first innings at Galle,” Swann added.
“It was important to get out and start well - 150 for one speaks for itself. It was exceptional from the top order.
“We’re in a good position, but we’re not completely there. There is going to be some attritional cricket on what is a slow wicket.
“We need to push past their score. We’ve got to look for 400 I think.”
Strauss’ fifty was his second of the Test winter and, although he is without a Test century in 24 innings, he confirmed the form he had hinted at in Galle.
“He proved himself today, he got another good start, and he’ll be kicking himself he got 50 and didn’t go on,” Swann said.
“We’re very happy. He’s been having a few questions asked of him in the media. Everyone is behind him.”
Asked if he thought the media pressure on Strauss was justified, Swann added: “Personally I don’t, I’m Andrew Strauss’ greatest ally.
“I think we should let him get on with scoring the hundreds he will undoubtedly do.
“He’s probably frustrated (as) he’s been in good form. Every time he bats he gets a start. He’s probably in one of those patches when you don’t quite perform as you like.”
Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford admitted his bowlers would have to improve tomorrow to get back in the game, adding that a change in the England top order’s tactics had left his side now needing to reassess on a pitch that did not provide as much turn as he expected.
“The way they played in the first innings at Galle and the way they played today was totally different,” he said.
“They certainly looked like they had a good think about playing our spinners, although I was expecting the pitch to do more.
“It didn’t really go that much, maybe that was the difference. It gives us something to think about.
“We’ve got to get back in the match tomorrow, so we’ll have to bowl well up front. I expect my guys to be up for a scrap tomorrow.”