Tremlett reigns at the Rose Bowl
Chris Tremlett marked his return to the Rose Bowl with Test-best figures as England did their best to defy yet more rain in the final npower Test.
The former Hampshire pace bowler added four victims to the two he collected yesterday, assuming the role of England spearhead in reducing Sri Lanka, who resumed on 81 for four, to a perilous 177 for nine in the two hours’ play that were possible today.
He boasted figures of 6-42 when rain cut short the afternoon – and only – session shortly after 3pm, bettering his previous best of 5-87 from the third Ashes Test in Perth last winter.
The weather has had the biggest say thus far – almost 119 overs have been lost over two gloomy days on the south coast – and may well continue to do so given a far from promising forecast for the next three days.
However, no-one has done more than Tremlett to lift England into a position from which they can harbour realistic hopes of forcing the victory that would secure a 2-0 series win.
The same attributes which caused Sri Lanka so many problems yesterday – ie. pace and bounce in abundance – were again in evidence this afternoon.
Only Graeme Swann, who performed his oft-repeated trick of striking in his first over, interrupted his charge, and there will be short odds on Tremlett claiming the final wicket tomorrow to give him the best first-class figures of his career.
He had already struck Thilan Samaraweera a painful blow on the bottom hand by the time he removed him in the second over of a day that did not start until 1.10pm.
That incident surely contributed to the lack of foot movement which saw Samaraweera drive loosely to Kevin Pietersen, the finer of two gullies. He had added just seven to his overnight 24.
A position of some peril was never likely to stymie the ever-aggressive Thisara Perera, who duly edged behind as he aimed a cross-batted heave at Tremlett, and Rangana Herath swung with only marginally more success before he top-edged a pull off the same bowler to James Anderson at fine-leg.
Prasanna Jayawardene, with whom Samaraweera added 50 for the fifth wicket stretching back to yesterday afternoon, traded dogged defence for an increasingly risky approach as his partners deserted him.
He had made a valuable 43 – and enhanced further his reputation as a genuine batsman – when he swept Swann’s second delivery to Eoin Morgan at deep midwicket, ending a breezy ninth-wicket partnership of 41 with Dilhara Fernando.
Fernando assumed responsibility for shepherding what remained of the tail, and, although he saw Suranga Lakmal caught behind via glove off the first ball of Tremlett’s new spell, was unbeaten on 33 when the rain which has blighted this match – and the series – returned for good shortly after 3pm.
Only the most ludicrously optimistic spectators were still in the ground by the time the inevitable abandonment came two hours later.