No repeat of Cardiff miracle as Test fizzles out
Close: Second Test, day five, Lord’s
Match score: Sri Lanka 127-3 (Samaraweera 17*, P Jayawardene 12*) and 479 (Paranavitana 65, Dilshan 193; Finn 4-108) drew with England 486 (Cook 96, Bell 52, Morgan 79, Prior 126, Broad 54; Welegedara 4-122) and 335-7 dec. (Cook 106, Trott 58, Bell 57*) Full scorecard
Session score: Sri Lanka 95-2 Draw
The craziness at Cardiff had duped us into believing lightning might strike twice. In the end, the most exciting thing that happened – apart from a terrific Ian Bell cameo – was a window breaking in the England dressing room.
With almost a whole day’s play lost from the game, the result was predictable enough though Andrew Strauss did get a dig in at the Lord’s complaining it didn’t have “as much pace as we’d have liked”.
This comment masks both the inadequacy, or specifically the inconsistency, of his bowlers and the predictable lack of ambition of his declaration.
If ever a captain (and coach) deserves the benefit of the doubt it is surely when he has won 14 of his last 24 Tests and five of the last eight by an innings. But at no point did England ever look like they felt capable of trying to turn the screw on Sri Lanka.
Even if Cardiff was an aberration Sri Lanka’s tail is long and made longer by their captain Tillakaratne Dilshan being unable to bat because of a fractured thumb.
That Jonathan Trott took his first Test wicket with his gentle medium-pace away-swing tells you where England had got to in the final session.
Could they have done anything differently? Alastair Cook could and should have stepped up the pace, rather than taking 137 balls to go from 50 to 100 either side of lunch. But it was no surprise that Strauss was conservative in his declaration, leaving Sri Lanka to score a notional 343 off 58 overs.
In the real world, avoidance of defeat, especially when 1-0 up in the series, comes before gambling on victory. The summit of world Test cricket is still a long way off but Strauss knows that and doesn’t pretend any different.
England may have a decision to make at the Rose Bowl for the final Test next week. If James Anderson is fit, who makes way? Steven Finn has been patchy to say the least but he did pick up four wickets, improved as the Test wore on and his good balls and good overs are very good indeed. Stuart Broad will be thankful that he bats better than the other quick bowlers.
For Sri Lanka, Dilshan, who was man of the match for his 193, said that, at this stage, he expects to miss the Rose Bowl. Kumar Sangakkara would captain in his absence.
Shot of the day: Ian Bell, whose 57 not out only took 43 balls and was perfect for the situation, hit the spinner Rangana Herath inside out over extra cover with perfect placement.
Ball of the day: Herath’s own ‘Gatting ball’: pitched outside Kevin Pietersen’s leg stump, spun out of the rough across KP’s tentative prod and hit the top of off stump.
Fielder of the day: Sri Lankan keeper Prasanna Jayawardene for having the presence of mind and dead-eyed accuracy to throw down the stumps from 20 yards as Matt Prior was sent back by Ian Bell.
Stat of the day: Cook’s 18th Test hundred took him above Kevin Pietersen in England’s all-time list of century-makers.
Injury of the day: The female MCC member whose ankle was cut by the broken glass that feel from the England dressing room window broken after Prior’s dismissal. Prior himself, having let through 25 byes in the first innings, looked to be in some discomfort as he was given another torrid time behind the stumps by England’s wayward pace attack.
Spin of the day: The ECB’s ham-fisted attempts to explain the broken dressing room window: two contradictory statements, an apology and the truth still tucked away in Matt Prior’s kit bag.
Quote of the day: Strauss: “It was one of those unfortunate incidents. Matt Prior didn’t mean to break the window.”
Commentary banter of the day: While Sky showed footage of Nasser Hussain kicking away a set of crutches in the England dressing room after getting out in a Test at Perth, David Lloyd: “We’ve not even talked about the fridge yet.” Ian Botham: “That was in Rawalpindi.” Lloyd: “He got a bill for that.” Botham: “It’s still not been paid.”
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John