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Plays of the Day from the fourth day of the third Test between England and Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl
June 19, 2011
Cameo of the day
When James Anderson appeared as a nightwatchman in Cardiff, his talents were gently derided by his team-mate Stuart Broad. "He's more of a nudge-off-the-hip kind of guy," said Broad when asked if there was any prospect of Jimmy getting a move on in the morning. Today at the Rose Bowl, however, Anderson shredded such dour credentials. In the space of 30 deliveries he clattered 27 runs, 20 of which came courtesy of five agenda-forcing boundaries. One was moderately streaky - a thick edge through third man - but the rest were emphatically not. Four sumptuously punched cover-drives, two off the back foot and two off the front, as his partner Ian Bell was left temporarily in the shade.
Decision of the day
Ever since Andrew Strauss's first series as England's full-time captain, against West Indies in 2009, the timing of his declarations has been something of a bone of contention. In Antigua and Trinidad, England meandered fatally in matches they had to win and ended up letting their opponents bat out for two draws; and then last week at Lord's, he chose to kill the contest stone-dead on the final day by setting Sri Lanka an impossible 344 in 58 overs. Today, however, he got it more or less spot on. Breezy accumulation from Anderson, Bell and Eoin Morgan had given way to a slew of slogged wickets, so he called off the run-hunt with an imposing lead of 193.
Window of the day
Sadly for Matt Prior, Strauss's declaration didn't come soon enough to save his free-falling series average. After a century in the first innings at Lord's he's now followed up with scores of 4 and 0, and as soon as he snicked off to Thisara Perera this afternoon, the reaction around the ground was a unanimous cry of "Mind the windows!" But this time, instead of placing his bat on the window ledge and letting it bounce unfortunately onto an innocent pane of glass, Prior feigned the reaction that everyone assumed he had had last time around. He picked up his bat and, with a wide grin on his face, threatened to create some extra ventilation for his team-mates.
Reaction of the day
During one of his afternoon commentary stints, Michael Holding recalled how, at the WACA in 1984, he responded to the ignominy of losing his new-ball status by routing Australia with one of the fastest spells of his career. As it happens, Holding's recollection had been clouded a touch by time (he lost the new ball in India and never won it back) but the point he was making was still relevant to Stuart Broad. For the first time since the tour of Bangladesh last year, Broad was bumped down to the role of first change, but the mild dose of humiliation had a chastising effect on his game. He went wicketless in his first eight-over spell, but found a fuller and more dangerous length in that time, and when he returned late in the day he snaffled the massive wicket of Mahela Jayawardene. He might not get the new ball back in a hurry, but if he bowls as if he wants it, England will be well served by his demotion.
Delay of the day
After the lunacy of the third afternoon, when the decision to take tea in bright sunshine meant that no cricket was possible for more than two hours, the fourth day was a much more satisfactory affair. Play started on time, with all its intervals in the right place, and there was even a burst of common-sense when the umpires pressed on through a rare shower in the correct assumption it would pass before the covers had reached the middle. There was, however, one moment of doubt, at 4.25pm, when another dark cloud rolled across the ground. For a moment it seemed the players would come off for bad light, but instead they loitered in the middle while Rod Bransgrove fired up his floodlights. And whatever gripes there may have been about Saturday's events, three hours in less than 20-20 vision wouldn't have happened in Dickie Bird's day.
Fail of the day
Mahela Jayawardene arrived in England with hopes of emulating his successes in 2002 and 2006, when he racked up centuries in consecutive Lord's Tests, and skippered the side to a memorable victory at Trent Bridge. Alas, this time around he barely scraped past three figures in six attempts, as a rarely exposed vulnerability outside off stump proved his undoing time and time again. By the time Broad nailed him for 6, he had mustered 103 runs at 17.16, which is less than half of the tally of his wicketkeeper namesake Prasanna. What is more, his series strike rate of 38.14 is the lowest of his career. Without his weight of runs in the middle order, Sri Lanka's six-batsman strategy never stood a chance. Realistically, only Kumar Sangakkara, with one last chance to make a hundred in England, stands in the way of a 2-0 defeat.
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