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Memories of Murali

Posted in England v Sri Lanka 2011

I remember my one Test against Sri Lanka well. It was in Colombo in 1993; we didn't play well and were comfortably beaten by five wickets. We lost the two one-dayers as well.

I was twelfth man for Sri Lanka's inaugral Test in 1982 - they were a young side then and were much more mature when we faced them 11 years later.

We were on our way back from India which had been a difficult tour. Sri Lanka were making their way in Test cricket but playing them in their own conditions made it a level playing field.

It was a really good wicket. Their spinners were always going to play a big part. Murali still had that strange action. We knew about him but hadn't seen much of him. We couldn't believe how much he turned it, especially on a good-looking pitch.

We batted first and Robin Smith got a hundred. He played unbelievably well.

I batted three as I normally had done. Murali turned it quite a bit, so did Warnaweera. There were lots of people around the bat, lots of appealing. It was hard work. I tried to play positively and got starts in both innings.

All our batsmen got off to a reasonable start in that first innings without getting quite enough.

Jayende Warnaweera

Warnaweera caused us trouble in the second innings - we just could not believe how much he and Murali turned the ball

We made 380, which wasn't bad, but when we bowled our spinners weren't turning it as much as Murali and Warnaweera. They toiled away but it meant the seamers had to do it. It was really hard work getting wickets.

They built up a healthy lead, Warnaweera then did most of the damage when we batted again and it meant they chased 140 to win. We didn't get enough runs in the second innings.

Sri Lanka were always difficult to beat in their own country and I suspect that will always be the case.

They aren't as strong away from home and with that in mind I expect England to have the edge. Sri Lanka won't be a push-over though.

There might be more grass on the pitches with the seamers we have. We do have Swanny though, who will compete with their spinners.

The weather has been good so perhaps it will turn. That will help Sri Lanka's spinners. They will miss Murali; I don't care what anyone says. On good wickets he can break partnerships. Mendis is still seen as a mystery spinner but with technology our batsmen will have seen him bowl plenty of times.

I think the series will be decided on the batting. They have some high quality batsmen, who will fight for their side. That's where their strength is.

Mike Gatting

Our tour of the sub-continent had been tough. We had already played poorly in India before losing three games in Sri Lanka

I'm going to Cardiff for the first three days of the Test. I went there for the 2009 Ashes and they did the Test extremely well. I loved the golf carts that took you from the car park to the ground. That was a lovely touch. Everyone was really friendly down there and the atmosphere was great. I'm sure it'll run perfectly. I just hope we get some good weather.

As well as watching the Test, I will be having chats with the Glamorgan board, the sponsors, PCA and other people around the game. It's a good chance to maintain relationships, especially with Glamorgan. I'm keen to find out their thoughts on the first-class and recreational game.