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Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, Kandy, 4th day
David Lloyd: England will be disappointed
December 4, 2007
Sri Lanka are in the driver's seat and England will have to play at their best to save the match
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David Lloyd: It's been a pleasure to watch him [Kumar Sangakkara] play © AFP

Andrew Miler: By the close of play, England were up against it - they were set 350 for victory but they finished at 9 for 1. David, with the fifth day looming. it is going to be a tough battle to survive, isn't it?

David Lloyd: Yes, it sure is, and many people would say that Sri Lanka could have declared a bit earlier. An uncomfortable five overs at the end of the day, and England closed at 9 for 1. Alastair Cook, very much out of sorts, has had a sad game really. England needed a good solid start but it wasn't to be, he was caught at first slip off the admirable Chaminda Vaas.

Looking forward to tomorrow, a lot of people are looking at the weather - it has been a topic of conversation throughout this Test match. We have had a full day today and all the indications are that we are going to get a full day tomorrow. The start time is early again, it's a 10 o'clock start, so that will mean that Sri Lanka will have 95 overs to bowl. And if it goes that way, that [Muttiah] Muralitharan will bowl 40 overs. So England have got to play at the top of their game, they certainly need a massive hundred from one of their top batsmen and then they need support from everybody around. They are carrying an odd injury. We have not seen Kevin Pietersen in the field, we are told that he has got a cracked finger and it won't impede his batting, but we will have to wait and see until tomorrow

AM: Well, talking of massive hundreds, one man knows exactly how to do that - Kumar Sangakkara has been in outstanding form ever since he gave up his wicketkeeping gloves. What do you make of his performance today?

DL: Well, if he's the number three [batsman] in the world, I am certain that he may just have gone up to number two. It's been a pleasure to watch him play. He is one of the best in the world because he picks up length very quickly, he gets into the position very well, he uses the depth of the crease if he wants to play forward or back - in other words he makes batting look very simple. The top three - Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Sangakkara - are effortless when they play; they don't take anything out of themselves when the conditions are extreme. It's been a pleasure to watch him play especially his drives in the extra-cover region: he gets low on the ball and watches the ball on to the middle of the bat. Talk to him, and it's no accident that he has given up wicketkeeping to concentrate on batting, and he looks one of the best players in the world.

AM: I believe that today he joined a pretty exclusive band as well - one of only nine players who have scored a Test centuries against all Test playing nations.

DL: Yes, he has got of a lot of records today. He is also the only batsman to score consecutive 150s in four Test matches. Again, records have tumbled in this game. I think England are still trying to find a way to get him out, he looked comfortable all the time. He chipped one and it was a really good catch by Michael Vaughan to dismiss him, for it looked like he could have gone forever.

AM: What did you make of England in the field today, as you say, they were carrying a few injuries and how was their commitment out there?

DL: The commitment was fine, but the rest if it was not so fine. When you look at the captain and say could he has done anything different, I don't think he could. People would say that Vaughan should have bowled a bit more - but he is a real temporary bowler, a part-timer. There was nothing in the attack that was threatening at all for the Sri Lankans. The pitch is very slow, there is low bounce now, and England have not been good at reverse-swing. Certainly they need Andrew Flintoff for that - for the extra pace, the extra height and bounce. They missed Flintoff.

Worrying for England is that Mathew Hoggard has been out of the field for sometime with a recurrence of a back injury - and there are only three days of respite before the next game in Colombo. So England have problem because it is going to be a similar pitch down at Colombo. All we need to talk about right now is taking 20 wickets - how does England get an attack together to take 20 wickets. They did really well in the first innings with Matthew Hoggard coming to the fore, leading the pace attack and was supported by Monty Panesar. But, in the second innings Sri Lanka batted well and batted England into the ground really.

AM: Obviously it's tough to compare Monty Panesar with Muttiah Muralitharan, but how did you view his performance today?

England have got nine wickets [in hand], and realistically it is down to the batsmen - they will have to play on top of their game. They have to draw on everything - on past experience, on the confidence of what they can do - and I think it's imperative from England's viewpoint that they get down to Colombo still intact, and not one down

DL: He gave a good interview; when he was asked about the pressure of being compared with Murali - he said, "Not at all, I am the pupil and he is the teacher." He enjoys watching him, but Monty is a totally different bowler [ as compared to Murali]. I think a better comparison will be with Sanath Jayasuriya, when he bowls tomorrow; and he will bowl a lot of overs. He has got 97 Test match wickets, and he is an orthodox left-arm spinner like Monty. There is no comparison between Monty and Murali. Murali is unique. I suppose England spectators may be saying that Murali has got six wickets so why has Monty not done it - the thing is that this pitch did not suit Monty.

AM: One or two catches went down for England in this innings as well, is that inevitable in conditions that are so tough?

DL: No, I think if you are in the management and the coaching side then you would be disappointed [with England's fielding]. The chances came your way, and in conditions like this it's the half-chances that really count. You need something in the field to lift everybody. I think also when a catch goes down - Ian Bell dropped a catch which was absolute goober - then the heads drop. They don't drop for the lack of effort , but they drop with disappointment - for you have really got to take those chances. It's the special half-chances that lift the team and there was nothing of that for England today.

AM: Looking ahead to tomorrow, England, as you say, will have to bat 95 overs, but they have done it before here. Michael Vaughan got a century last time to guide England to a draw. Do you see anything similar tomorrow?

DL: It can be done. England have got nine wickets [in hand], and realistically it is down to the batsmen - they will have to play on top of their game. They know that Murali is going to bowl 40-plus overs at them, if it goes the distance. They can't disregard the seamers either, because we have seen that this pitch is keeping low - if the quick bowlers bowl a full length and keep it low, then the lbw is a big player. They have to draw on everything - on past experience, on the confidence of what they can do - and I think it's imperative from England's viewpoint that they get down to Colombo still intact, and not one down.

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