The Over: Sri Lanka v England – Day 4

Well, it looked at one point like England might actually win that one, but ultimately there’s a reason why sides don’t regularly chase down 300 plus in the fourth innings:

Justice in the end was done – forget getting out of jail, if England had won this match it would have been like the complete four series box-set of Prison Break. Apart from the bowlers, who, as we mentioned before, are pretty much immune from criticism on current form, England were poor overall. Sri Lanka were better in the field, particularly close in where they were quite brilliant, and ultimately England’s crap first innings cost them the match.

Jonathan Trott’s innings was something of a diamond in the slurry of England’s batting in this match. Trott was the only batsman who really knuckled down and realised that playing on this pitch didn’t have to be flashy, four-an-over stuff. Bell batted well in the first innings and Prior and Pietersen were passable in the second, but Trott and Jayawardene looked a class apart in their knocks.

Rangana Herath will never have an easier ten-for as long as he plays. Yes he bowled well (you have to to get twelve wickets in a match), but there’s little mystery to him. He doesn’t get extravagant turn or bounce, he doesn’t turn the ball both ways and he doesn’t drift the ball very much. All he really did was put the ball in the right areas. There is a school of thought that says that he is spotting England’s pre-meditated sweeps and flinging the ball further up, but we don’t buy it. The naked truth is that England are currently utterly clueless against spin.

Another two heads need to go on spikes in Sweepers’ Gallery, namely Bell and Swann. We forgive Matt Prior because he at least actually managed to connect with his sweep and was fairly unfortunate that Thirimanne’s midriff exhibited the absorbency of a giant marshmallow. All of those who have been shamed for their sweeping in this match could learn a thing or two from Trott, who showed that you don’t need to pre-meditate a sweep – just wait for the right ball. Spin bowlers give you plenty of time to adjust, and it’s extremely difficult to sweep a half-volley.

We do at least now get a respite from the obscenely early starts from a few days. 5.30 is quite an effort…

Samit Patel. Hmmm… the jury’s still out. He’ll almost certainly get another Test, but there’s a familiar feeling last noticed with Eoin Morgan that an ability to play spin in ODIs does not equate to an ability to play spin in Tests. You’ve got to credit the attacking fields Jayawardene set at times in this Test – we doubt many of England’s batsmen will have come up against four leg-side close catchers very often. Douglas Jardine would have been proud.

Over.

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