David Lloyd: Well it's been extraordinary, really. I was at the toss first thing in this morning and we interviewed both captains. Jayawardene was ecstatic to win the toss and bat first. I just said to him that it's an easy decision and he said, "Yes we want to bat first here."
Then Michael Vaughan said it wasn't a disaster. He said, "If it was the other two - Colombo or Galle - I would be quite honest and say that we may have a problem. I don't mind losing the toss here, even though I would have batted if we won the toss."
But if you look at the stats , there are so many teams who do well bowling first in Kandy, and he said of course and he explained it fully - you need to bowl well, and that is exactly what England did, in fact they were better than that.
Mathew Hoggard comes back into the team; he last played against West Indies at Chester-le-street. The whole package of Hoggard is a captain's dream - he has got great stamina, he is incessantly accurate with his bowling and he does enough with it. If you look at his wickets then you wouldn't fault any batsmen, and say well he chased this or he had to do that - they had to play. The ball moved just enough to take the outside edge on three occasions. So Hoggard set the scene this morning, and 85 for 5 was extraordinary and I would say that it was absolute bonus for England. For this pitch, make no mistake, will spin.
AM: Well, let's talk about Hoggard a bit more. When he started his career, everyone imagined that he was a seamer perfect for the green-top conditions. Yet, his record in the subcontinent is pushing among the very best in the game these days.
DL: He is moving up the wicket-takers list for England rapidly. He has got Brian Statham in his sight with 252 wickets. Hoggard has got 244 wickets and he's a class bowler.
I think he would have been challenged a few years ago. It's not any secret that the previous coach, Duncan Fletcher, did not fancy him - if he doesn't swing then what has he got? But, Hoggard has developed into a captain's dream - he has got great stamina, he has good build and he will bowl at either end for you. He puts long spells in demanding conditions. Couple that with the fact that he does swing the ball, and if he doesn't swing the ball, then he has now got the ball to go across the left-hand batsmen from wide of the crease - so he is a whole package for a captain. I don't think Michael Vaughan worries abut Hoggard, as to when he should take him off or when he should bring him back. He will just say put his hand up and say I am ready anytime. If you look back at the one-day series, when Hoggard wasn't around, then there was a thought that James Anderson would play in the Test matches and Hoggard wouldn't.
Hoggard has just proved his value to England in what he does - and that is medium-pace seam and swing bowling.
AM: There was only one man who resisted England this morning - Kumar Sangakkara. Another magnificent innings from him and he really deserved a hundred. He couldn't have done more for his side, could he?
DL: No, he wasn't hesitant and he is in great form. He has just come off a 192 against Australia in Hobart. He is ranked third behind Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis, so he is in prime form. He wasn't feeling for the ball and he let the ball come to him. Both Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene batted out of the crease to Hoggard and I am absolutely certain that it is the way forward here. This is a low-bounce pitch and if you stand a foot outside the crease, as both the batsmen did, then the bowler has to drop his length back slightly and you nullify that little bit of movement that Hoggard was getting.
AM: Sri Lankans have just come back from Australia, and do you think that has possibly been a bit of a hindrance in this game - trying to re-adjust to their own conditions with only a week between continents.?
|Both Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene batted out of the crease to Hoggard and I am certain that it is the way forward here. This is a low-bounce pitch and if you stand a foot outside the crease then the bowler has to drop his length back slightly and you nullify that little bit of movement that Hoggard was getting|
But Hoggard was on top of his game and he got great support from Monty Panesar. There is no doubt this pitch will spin, there will be cracks on the surface, the heat, the sun will beat down and as the game progresses the spinners will come more into it.
AM: There were a couple that Panesar managed to make jump out of the off-side rough. Muttiah Muralitharan is going to look forward to that, isn't he?
DL: Yes, he is. Again I go back to the fact that Murali did not play in the one-day series. He went out there to see where Ryan Sidebottom's footmarks were, and said that is absolutely where I pitch. He said that he doesn't go anywhere near Chaminda Vaas' [foot marks], but Sidebottom's were perfect for him. He will have a long bowl in this game, and will bemoan the fact that his batsmen did not get 300 on the board.
AM: And talking of Vaas, - it is his 100th Test today, and he came into the game with a bit of speculation about his future for he might be forced into retirement. But he picked up a wicket in his very first over, as he so often does?
DL: Yes, in his last 10 Test matches he has taken just 20 wickets, so [there is a] question mark, as to an older player moving on. I think he is invaluable to Sri Lanka, especially his partnership with Murali. I am certain Vaas' experience will stick with him for some time to come.