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David Lloyd - Graeme Swann should play at Galle
Sri Lanka might have delayed things but in the end the dead pitch and the weather came to England's rescue (06:26)
December 13, 2007
Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 5th day
David Lloyd - Graeme Swann should play at GalleDecember 13, 2007
Andrew Miller: The Test finished as a draw, thanks partly due to rain and partly due to fairly decent batting by England in the morning and afternoon sessions. David Lloyd, is a draw a fair result?
David Lloyd: Well, I think it is. I just wonder whether Sri Lanka will reflect on yesterday, when they meandered and dawdled around. I think there has been a reaction overnight in the Sri Lankan media that they brought this draw upon themselves. They were not adventurous enough yesterday. At the end of the day, it's the weather that has intervened.
It is a Test match that just hasn't thrilled me. I think the pitches are so dead; one of the greatest spinners that we have ever seen - [Muttiah] Muralitharan, got nothing from the pitch. It's been a Test match, yes, but it has not had too much in it for me.
AM: Murali predicted this result, as early as second day. He picked up five wickets, but said that it is going to take something miraculous to achieve victory. Is this the trend in international cricket with the pitches getting slower and results getting harder to come by on decent pitches?
DL: Over here, definitely, and I think Muralitharan also had a gentle push about the pitches in Sri Lanka, when [he said] that there used to be five-day pitches. Which is what you expect in subcontinent with the sun beating down and pitches starting to dry, but the two pitches that we have seen here were as dead as dodos. Of course Galle maybe different, but at Kandy and Colombo it has been back breaking, it really has been for the bowlers, and I feel for them. I felt for [Steve] Harmison, coming back into the England team. He bowled with great heart, determination and pace, getting nothing from the pitch.
Muralitharan with all his wickets, 700-odd, has found it really difficult. I find it strange to see Muralitharan bowl on a day-five pitch, which is unbelievably dry, just with two around the bat and fielders in the outfield at deep point and deep midwicket. So he has had a gentle push at the authorities saying that let's have better pitches, it makes for interesting cricket. And, that's what we should dwell on in our columns - we need interesting cricket. People were saying that there is nobody coming to watch the cricket, well, they won't if this is what it is.
AM: Today was largely about England's batsmen and how they would fare on a fifth-day wicket, and they did pretty well - the top three. Funnily enough, England have got ten half-centuries in this series, but no one has yet got a hundred - is that a concern for England?
DL: I think it is a massive concern and it is frustrating as well. They are playing pretty well and they are good players. If you watched the way [Ian] Bell and [Michael] Vaughan have played, and [Alastair] Cook in his own way. But, in particular, stroke players like Bell and Vaughan scoring pretty fifties, sixties and couple of eighties - it is a concern. I know it is a concern for England's management. These are class players and are not getting enough runs, and that is the real challenge for them. The England top six - let's see some double hundreds, the way the other players, the very best players in the world do it.
AM: What do you think has been the difference between the Sri Lankan batsmen who have gone on to make big hundreds and the England batsmen who have made pretty fifties?
DL: It is interesting; concentration must come into it - it is a big factor. Then you look at fitness, are they fit enough? They certainly look fit enough to me. It is a trend that you get so many half-centuries and baby hundreds. Ian Bell and Alastair Cook, the top scorers - taking Bangladesh out of Bell, his 162, they are baby hundreds. It will be challenging and I know Peter Moores is saying, "Okay boys, that nice, that's fine but give me a couple of hundreds, a double hundred. Let's see a 250 - Kenny Barrington, Geoffrey Boycott, let's see some of that."
AM: Looking ahead to Galle, they have a few days to recover. The bowlers went pretty well and do you think they would be firing again in Galle?
DL: They [England] have got a problem. Mathew Hoggard is fit, he has bowled in the nets at practice and he looks absolutely fine. England will have to decide the make-up, and they have to understand that they have a problem - the attack is non-threatening. Monty [Panesar] is finding it difficult, although he is putting his overs in, he is putting his work in, just as Murali is. Monty is finding it difficult on these pitches. Steve Harmison, I would think, will retain his place, he has done enough. Hoggard will come back into the team. So England will have to make one or two changes. Now for England to chase this series, they have to take 20 wickets.
[Matt] Prior at six, [Graeme] Swann at seven, [Ryan] Sidebottom at eight, the two seamers at nine and ten, and Panesar at eleven. Now it's up to the batsmen to get the runs, but it gives Michael Vaughan a great balance in his attack - he has got a swinger, the pace of Harmison to use as a strike bowler and he has got two spinners if the ball does spin at Galle. Nobody knows what that pitch is going to be at Galle, and I think that will be England's best team for the Galle but I am not sure whether they will select him [Swann].
AM: Of course, Galle is going to be much more than just about the match. It's the first time that any cricket is being played there since the Tsunami; it's going to be quite an emotional occasion for all involved.
DL: It certainly will, for people all around the world to see cricket being played again at Galle after the devastation. There are many people, and yes, they are going along for the cricket but they are going along to pay their respects to all the people who lost their lives there. I am sure it will be a special occasion, it will be a sombre occasion, and let's hope that it is also a celebration for what we can look forward to in the future.
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