Wakey wakey, rise and shine
Posted in England
It was not a good morning to miss your alarm call...
Any England supporter who opted for an extra half hour in bed today before tuning into coverage of the first Test in Sri Lanka would have immediately regretted their decision as Andrew Strauss’ men made the perfect start at Galle.
After being sent in to field in sweltering heat, the tourists could not have asked for more from seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who removed Sri Lanka’s top three inside four overs.
The vastly experienced pairing of Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera fought back strongly, but their efforts in reaching lunch unbeaten, on a placid pitch, only served to illustrate the value of England’s strikes with the new ball.
On last winter’s Ashes tour England specialised in making early breakthroughs and there were shades of the Adelaide Test this morning as Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan all departed to catches behind the wicket.
Thirimanne and Sangakkara, who fell first ball, were each guilty of driving loosely at deliveries they could and probably should have left alone. Yet to focus too strongly on their shortcomings would be an injustice to the supremely accurate Anderson.
Only four scoring shots came from the Lancashire paceman’s opening spell, which yielded exceptional figures of 6-3-10-2.
Broad, passed fit after injuring his ankle prior to England’s first warm-up game, conceded 11 in his first over, but soon had cause for celebration himself when Dilshan nicked to Strauss at first slip, having been squared up by a straight ball.
Sri Lanka were three down before 6am BST, but then set about frustrating the England fans who had risen from their beds that little bit too late.
Skipper Jayawardene, a man with six Test centuries to his name at this venue, was virtually untroubled as he coasted to 30 not out at lunch.
Apart from an lbw appeal that prompted an unsuccessful review from England, their second of the morning, Jayawardene’s only real moment of discomfort came when he steered a Broad delivery marginally short of Swann at second slip.
However, there were mitigating circumstances for this momentary lapse in concentration.
One can only assume that Jayawardene was simply stunned by the sight of his partner, Samaraweera, finally scoring a run after almost an hour at the crease.
After taking 31 balls to get off the mark, Sri Lanka’s number five still had a solitary run to his name after 48 deliveries.
Yet after operating in first gear, or possibly neutral, for much of the morning, Samaraweera then took 14 from the next nine balls he faced and his strike-rate had soared to a princely 26.38 by the end of the morning session.
While cheap jokes can be made about Samaraweera’s initial tortoise-like progress, he and Jayawardene should be praised for the application they showed in responding to a position of peril.
Those who missed England’s early breakthroughs could only hope further success was around the corner for Strauss' side.