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Sri Lanka v England, 3rd Test, Galle, 1st day
England wasted first session - David Lloyd
December 18, 2007
England won the toss but could not capitalise
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Andrew Miller: At the close, England have reduced Sri Lanka to 147 for 4, but David, the main talking point of the day, I guess, is that cricket is back at this venue.

David Lloyd: Yes, very much so. It's been a sterling effort by all the ground staff, the weather has been positively foul around Galle for the last three or four days. Rain has hampered the preparation, not only for the pitch but also for the spectators. But, as usual, the game goes on. We had a late start, round about 12 o'clock. England won the toss and chose to bowl first, and it really looked like a good toss to win. England had an hour and half to bowl with that new ball and I just thought that they wasted it. It was a poor effort from England's pace attack.

AM: Well, that toss was interesting. The pitch has been such an unknown quantity, three years out of action - how, do you think, it should have played this morning?

DL: It had a soft top to it and hard underneath, and the heavy roller was pounding away but it still has this, what I would call, soft crust. It reminded me of the 60s and early 70s when I played on pitches that were uncovered, back in England.

You need to be deadly accurate, you need to be round about off stump and England had the bowlers to do that, but they were wayward. They did take a couple of wickets - lbws that were questionable, and the caught behind of [Kumar] Sangakkara, given the benefit of doubt by the umpire. All in all, I thought that England wasted that hour and a half before the lunch break and they should have had more inroads into Sri Lanka.

AM: Nevertheless, it was oppressively hot out there, is that about as hot as it has ever been for an England Test match?

DL: I think the humidity at 97% was a major factor, and it was really uncomfortable. I was out there doing the toss, and I just stood still with a shirt and tie and you could feel the humidity. I would understand both teams opting to play the hours that they did, and there was a massive debate in our commentary box that England have wasted 45-50 minutes, but the fact remains that both the teams, before the toss, had said that we will play to these hours of play, rather than playing two two-hour-and-fifty-minute sessions. Again, there was a massive debate, as I said. But, bad light inevitably comes in at the end of the day, which means that you are going to lose, whatever hours you say. I don't think we are going to get much play beyond 5 o'clock. I have been down here for about a week and the light closes in very quickly at 5 o'clock; although we do have an early start tomorrow morning.

To get back to the game, with Sri Lanka finishing the day at 147 for 4, I think England have just got out of the jail with a couple of wickets late in the day. That gives them another opportunity, early morning at 9:30, and I think that's the key - when there is dampness around, have another go and of course the prized wicket would be [Mahela] Jayawardene.

AM: Once again Steve Harmison seemed to be the man of the day, and he was formidable in difficult conditions in Colombo, and once again he ran in really hard today.

DL: Yes, he did. And, there were alarm bells with two other fast bowlers - Ryan Sidebottom fell heavily in the outfield, and he was off the pitch and he is quite a tough character. Steve Harmison also left the field very quickly and it looked like a back spasm, but he came back and he put the overs in and he has taken three wickets.

I just can't get away from the fact that it was a poor performance by the England bowlers, and if I am giving them marks out of ten then it would be nothing more than six. It is a poor performance, especially when you consider that England were chasing the game. I can tell that Michael Vaughan, I did the toss this morning, was excited when he won the toss and he would have said - we have won the toss and now let's get to work. I would say he would be disappointed, but you look at the score at the end, 147 for 4, another chance tomorrow morning to have a go at Sri Lanka in damp pitch conditions, so England not out of this game, not by any means.

AM: They did have a great bonus straight after tea when Kumar Sangakkara hoisted his first delivery straight down the throat of the backward-square-leg fielder. What would Monty be thinking when the ball was circling above him?

DL: The first thing you do is see who the fielder is, and it was Monty down at deep-backward square leg, and he sort of got into Strictly come dancing mode - three steps forward, two back and then forward again, he took the catch and then he really did not know what to do with it. When you take a catch in the deep, you throw it up in the air, but Monty threw his arms aloft and he went gleefully towards Harmison. It was an out of character shot by Sangakkara. After getting a start, you would have thought that Sangakkara was going to go on and make a big score but he got a top edge, Monty did the rest. And, by the end of the day, it was three wickets for Harmison.

Comments: 4 
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Posted by Suresh on (December 19, 2007, 9:43 GMT)

Why bother with Test Cricket. Poor Umpiring especially from Koertzen, Harper, and Rauf has reduced Test Cricket to a lottery.

Bob Willis is right to criticize poor umpiring by the so called 'Elite Panel'. Even Simon Taufel is making several mistakes.

Posted by Uwe on (December 18, 2007, 22:02 GMT)

Often we have seen sessions or matches end prematurely due bad light. Specially in tropical areas where curtain fold down as soon as sun set in. Contary to England in summers. I will be an positive option if matches start early say by 9-10 am in places like Sri Lanka.


Posted by Omar on (December 18, 2007, 18:18 GMT)

We've heard of the pitch conditions but what is the weather forecast for the next couple of days? The result of this match will depend on this factor more than anything else.

Posted by karthik on (December 18, 2007, 17:33 GMT)

England even though took a good decision to bowl first in conditions favourable to their quicks are still taking a big gamble as they would have to face murali on the last day. england must be ok with 147 for 4 at the end of the day considering the way they started ,still vaughan must be dissapointed as david say's.for england to have any chance they must end Srilanka's innings inside 275 tomorow and the key for that would be to get jayawardane early, also england's batting must fire big time they must look to bat just once in this test as chasing any kind of target in the last innings against murali is going to be difficult.

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