England v Sri Lanka, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day June 15, 2014

Ballance ton shores up England

102

England 575 for 9 dec and 267 for 8 (Ballance 104*, Plunkett 2*) lead Sri Lanka 453 (Sangakkara 147, Mathews 102, Anderson 3-93) by 389 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Such had been the mastery of bat against ball at Lord's that few would have quibbled at the notion that Gary Ballance might complete the fourth day with a maiden Test century to his name. This Test surface has not been short of largesse for any batsman worth his salt. What would have surprised them was that he would have achieved it from a position of adversity after Sri Lanka briefly transformed the complacent mood of the first Test with a wonderful bowling performance.

The sight of Ballance reaching his hundred in the final over by hoicking Rangana Herath's left-arm slows over the advertising boards at midwicket re-established batting supremacy. Joe Root, Kumar Sangakkara, and Angelo Mathews earlier on the fourth day - all had busied the Lord's sign writer.

But shortly after tea, England has been precariously placed at 121 for 6, possessing a vulnerable lead of 233. It was the discrimination of his first fifty, helped in his task by an exuberant contribution from Chris Jordan, which told most of Ballance's substance as a cricketer. In only his second Test, his composure was striking. Only in the last half-hour did Ballance, comfortably proportioned and increasingly ruddy of face, extend his range in a delighted dash to personal glory, careering from 82 to 97 in six balls as the clock ticked towards 6.30pm.

Sri Lanka claimed six wickets for 75 in 24 overs, all but one before tea, as they silenced premature chatter about exactly when England would have batted Sri Lanka out of the game and be able to push for victory. Some judges remained impatient for England to declare and have half an hour bowling at Sri Lanka, and whilst that policy would have been uplifting, England, in a parlous state, could easily have overstretched themselves in seeking it. By the time they added 58 in the last seven overs, moving the fourth-innings target into unchartered territory for Lord's, the chance for a declaration had gone.

Sri Lanka's retort after conceding a first-innings lead of 112 was some achievement on a pitch that by and large remained as politely accoutred as a civilised guest at a St John's Wood soiree. Only now is it offering some turn and low bounce: a little shabby in places, as if the first glass of red had been generously poured.

Their recovery was sparked by an excellent new-ball spell, comfortably the best of the match, by Shaminda Eranga, who took the first three wickets during a 10-over spell on a cloudy, floodlit afternoon. After the incursions were made by his spell of 3 for 24, Herath rabbited into the hole to leave England shaken.

Eranga took his time to bowl himself into rhythm in this Test but, after England resumed 45 minutes before lunch with a lead of 122, he reached the peak of his game. No other bowler has browbeaten such a response from this surface.

Eranga defeated Alastair Cook's forward push - as stiff limbed as a Buckingham Place guardsman - to have him caught at the wicket and, bowling with vigour from the Nursery End, then twice held his line up the Lord's slope to cause Sam Robson and Ian Bell to play on.

If the dismissals of Robson and Bell were identical, their mental approach was not. Robson, the young Middlesex opener on Test debut, has batted with suspicion throughout. He made 19 from 50 balls, largely through leg-side nurdles, and regarded deliveries outside off stump with mechanical distrust. If he makes it as a Test regular, he might prove to be an acquired taste.

Bell, by contrast, played with a suppleness Robson could only have dreamed of. Admiration was cut short before he had reached double figures. Perhaps there was over-confidence in his drive on the up but, as England's classiest batsman, he represented their best chance of achieving the impetus needed for a declaration before the close.

When Herath then dismissed Root and Moeen Ali in successive overs, the chance again rose that Sri Lanka could indeed be batting on the fourth evening - but by virtue of bowling England out. Herath's rotund shape and unthreatening countenance disguises his craft: indeed, it may be part of his deception.

Root was caught on the crease by one that turned to strike his back pad. Moeen, who had struck his first ball from Herath for six in the first innings, this time danced down the track to deposit him over mid-on for four. But there was a looseness in his defensive push at the following delivery and Herath turned the ball through the gate to bowl him. He will need to tighten his approach to succeed as a Test batsman.

It could have been even better for Sri Lanka. Matt Prior was reprieved second ball, on nought, in the first innings when Sri Lanka narrowly failed to overturn the umpire's refusal of Herath's lbw appeal. Remarkably, the sequence was re-enacted to his third ball in the second innings, Prior pushing forward to a wide, round-arm delivery, umpire Bowden turning down the appeal as it thudded into his pad and Prior surviving, again by Umpire's Call, because the ball was not in line of off stump. Prior, though, did not remain for long.

Before lunch, Angelo Mathews became the second Sri Lanka batsman to add his name to the Lord's honours board, at his first attempt. It was an innings characterised by ebullient, bottom-hand blows, the target reached with a full-blooded smite through the off side as James Anderson served up a low, wide full toss. He was out in the next over, to the next ball he faced, as Liam Plunkett had him lbw with a ball of full length, Mathews' decision to review the decision failing to spare him.

England would be satisfied to have removed Sri Lanka's last three wickets for 38 runs in 14.4 overs, but their tactics invited discussion. Mathews was starting a new day, but England saw only the swagger of his unbeaten 79 on Saturday afternoon. They encouraged him to get off strike, preferring boundary riders to slips, and concentrated on battering the tail.

They did batter them, too. Of the 17 balls Herath faced, only the last one, a near-yorker from James Anderson which crashed into his middle stump, was full length; Stuart Broad, by contrast, was short and uncompromising.

There was even more physical threat in the fall of Sri Lanka's last man, Nuwan Pradeep. Failing to handle a short ball from Jordan, he was struck on the right shoulder, swung around in a mixture of pain and self-preservation and was out hit wicket as he careered his bat into middle stump. England showed decent concern for his welfare. But it would be surprising if there was not some smirking at the comedy of it all in the privacy of the dressing room.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ZCFOutkast on June 17, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    Well done young Gary Ballance. Just like Trott - not pretty but effective!

    He is not Zimbabwean talent. He is and always will be British talent, albeit via Zimbabwe. We must not discourage all of them from going back home, or exercising their freedom of choice to reject the African footstool which propped them up. Nothing unusual about that. All the more reason why the villified KP tattoed this fact onto this flesh and continues to celebrate his European legacy from his adopted England.

    Anyway, if England want to remain relevant in Test cricket then they need to get a competent pair of openers very fast. Cook has lost it, and Robson will hope his second Test is as fruitful as Bllance's second one was. As things stand, England may soon be forced to appoint Bell as captain and I can assure you a lot of English cricket fans will have egg in their faces when strangely unpopular souls Carberry&Compton are their first choice opening pair.

  • Rhodie_Moyo on June 16, 2014, 14:34 GMT

    Good to see a bit of old school Zimbabwean talent comming to fruit in the lords test well done Balance! Another true cricketer lost to Zimbabwe.

  • CKfrombrisbane on June 16, 2014, 12:15 GMT

    Huh...... you guys telling that Sri Lankan pitches are so flat and boring. How about the Load's pitch ? Most flattest and boring pitch in the world.

  • on June 16, 2014, 11:31 GMT

    Cook should strong than Ashes if not SL will be smash them at Lords in final day

  • on June 16, 2014, 11:11 GMT

    Now, this is Srilanka's game to lose, especially after conceding only 267 runs in the II Eng innings. C'mon SL. One never gets such an easy English opposition very often. Make it count!!

  • on June 16, 2014, 10:40 GMT

    Here hoping Sri Lanka progress to 180 and beyond for less tha 3 by lunch to setup a victory charge lead by their skipper

  • on June 16, 2014, 10:33 GMT

    not long ago SL were on other side of similar target against pak. alot of criticism for their defensive approach in that test when pak chased around 5 rpo. this time SL has chance to rectify that by chasing this 4.33 rpo target. i think they should go normally for first 20-25 overs and then after lunch they can launch.

  • Pindia on June 16, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    Sri Lanka can chase this- if Matthews and co have learned from the stunning chase by Pakistan in Sharjah against them a few months ago. In that match Pak chased over 300 in 1 1/2 sessions. This run rate is totally do-able in modern cricket and this Lords pitch is truer than that UAE pitch. Sri Lanka were punished in that match for their negativity, whilst the Sky commentators (Warne, Botham et all) are giving them no chance they obviously did not see that match. The SL openers should play positively and then Sanga and Mahela should shore it up if necessary. For the chase to be on one of the top middle order has to play a solid century innings at a good tempo as Azhar did in the greatest modern chase. Then someone needs to acclerate at the end as Sarfraz did, then someone to see them home as Misbah did...

  • YorkshirePudding on June 16, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    @Herath-UK, why should he have done anything, most people knew that the declaration was coming and was more likely to declare overnight to give the SL batsmen something to ponder. I personally wouldn't have announced the declaration until 10:50, or even gone out for 10-15 minutes first thing giving instructions to play with freedom.

  • Guernica on June 16, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Well done Ballance, but it was actually Jordan that impressed me most. He batted beautifully until his dismissal and I can now see why he comes in above Broad and Plunk despite inferior stats. I don't buy all the talk of lacking a 'specialist' spinner (i.e.one who can't bat) though. The fact is we have no-one good enough at the moment so we may as well play someone who can bat as well.

  • ZCFOutkast on June 17, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    Well done young Gary Ballance. Just like Trott - not pretty but effective!

    He is not Zimbabwean talent. He is and always will be British talent, albeit via Zimbabwe. We must not discourage all of them from going back home, or exercising their freedom of choice to reject the African footstool which propped them up. Nothing unusual about that. All the more reason why the villified KP tattoed this fact onto this flesh and continues to celebrate his European legacy from his adopted England.

    Anyway, if England want to remain relevant in Test cricket then they need to get a competent pair of openers very fast. Cook has lost it, and Robson will hope his second Test is as fruitful as Bllance's second one was. As things stand, England may soon be forced to appoint Bell as captain and I can assure you a lot of English cricket fans will have egg in their faces when strangely unpopular souls Carberry&Compton are their first choice opening pair.

  • Rhodie_Moyo on June 16, 2014, 14:34 GMT

    Good to see a bit of old school Zimbabwean talent comming to fruit in the lords test well done Balance! Another true cricketer lost to Zimbabwe.

  • CKfrombrisbane on June 16, 2014, 12:15 GMT

    Huh...... you guys telling that Sri Lankan pitches are so flat and boring. How about the Load's pitch ? Most flattest and boring pitch in the world.

  • on June 16, 2014, 11:31 GMT

    Cook should strong than Ashes if not SL will be smash them at Lords in final day

  • on June 16, 2014, 11:11 GMT

    Now, this is Srilanka's game to lose, especially after conceding only 267 runs in the II Eng innings. C'mon SL. One never gets such an easy English opposition very often. Make it count!!

  • on June 16, 2014, 10:40 GMT

    Here hoping Sri Lanka progress to 180 and beyond for less tha 3 by lunch to setup a victory charge lead by their skipper

  • on June 16, 2014, 10:33 GMT

    not long ago SL were on other side of similar target against pak. alot of criticism for their defensive approach in that test when pak chased around 5 rpo. this time SL has chance to rectify that by chasing this 4.33 rpo target. i think they should go normally for first 20-25 overs and then after lunch they can launch.

  • Pindia on June 16, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    Sri Lanka can chase this- if Matthews and co have learned from the stunning chase by Pakistan in Sharjah against them a few months ago. In that match Pak chased over 300 in 1 1/2 sessions. This run rate is totally do-able in modern cricket and this Lords pitch is truer than that UAE pitch. Sri Lanka were punished in that match for their negativity, whilst the Sky commentators (Warne, Botham et all) are giving them no chance they obviously did not see that match. The SL openers should play positively and then Sanga and Mahela should shore it up if necessary. For the chase to be on one of the top middle order has to play a solid century innings at a good tempo as Azhar did in the greatest modern chase. Then someone needs to acclerate at the end as Sarfraz did, then someone to see them home as Misbah did...

  • YorkshirePudding on June 16, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    @Herath-UK, why should he have done anything, most people knew that the declaration was coming and was more likely to declare overnight to give the SL batsmen something to ponder. I personally wouldn't have announced the declaration until 10:50, or even gone out for 10-15 minutes first thing giving instructions to play with freedom.

  • Guernica on June 16, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Well done Ballance, but it was actually Jordan that impressed me most. He batted beautifully until his dismissal and I can now see why he comes in above Broad and Plunk despite inferior stats. I don't buy all the talk of lacking a 'specialist' spinner (i.e.one who can't bat) though. The fact is we have no-one good enough at the moment so we may as well play someone who can bat as well.

  • imtiazjaleel on June 16, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    It seems this test is heading for another draw. I don't want to see hundreds of runs scored without any result. I still believe that there should be some change in the rules of Test Cricket to make it more interesting. 1. Max of 150 for 1st innings & 100 overs for 2nd innings. I am taking of 250 overs which means an average of 50 over per bowler which is reasonable. 2. To declare the winner on 1st Innings score. 3. To change the ball after 65 overs. Believe it will work wonders for Test Cricket becoz the game will be played in a positive manner by both the teams specially on pitches which does not help bowlers.

  • Herath-UK on June 16, 2014, 9:35 GMT

    If Cook's captaincy has improved he should have declared last evening & given Sri Lanka a few overs to bat.All the things point out to Sanga to make another hundred today.

  • Sri_Lankan_Cricket_Fan on June 16, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    I still don't understand Sri Lankan selectors selected Dimuth Karunarathna over Kithuruwan Vitanage. He is a way better player and he proved he can bat well in these conditions in the practice matches. Besides he is a very young promising player and deserved a chance to play here. I am sure he will be playing for 2015 world cup. This tournament could have been a wonderful opportunity for him to prove him self.

  • Darkmanx12155 on June 16, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    Qaaid Mowlana You got it absolutely SPOT ON buddy!

  • xtrafalgarx on June 16, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    @Landl47: Rogers Isn't exactly irreplaceable, neither is Haddin, nor Watson. Clarke will be the harder one to replace, but you would hope Warner, Smith, Doolan/Marsh would be settled figures in the line up by them, leaving only 3 spots to fill.

    There won't be a new breed of young players you have never heard of that will come to the fore for Australia. Just like last time, it would be the guys who came in young and failed being given another go. Guys like Langer, Hayden, Martyn - all these guys weren't settled of the team till their late 20's/early 30's. Hughes, Khawaja, Marsh, Ferguson and co would be hoping to do the same.

    I get the impression that majority of English supporters are still unaware of the group of young players who have come onto the domestic scene in Australia over the past 12-18 months. Plenty of young batsmen, spinners, keepers will make themselves known in due course, don't worry about that.

  • Darkmanx12155 on June 16, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    @ Kasun_Karunathilake Thank god you are not the SL captain mate!!!. With this fragile batting line up, even Ponting would not risk chasing a target of 390+, UNLESS he is batting against the SL bowling attack!!!

  • pandian_ikku on June 16, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    If I am leading Sri Lanka my initial target would be batting the first 50 overs with only 2-3 wickets fall and score 200 runs.

    If they could achieve it then the remaining 40 overs will be just like an easy ODI chase. 190 runs in 40 overs having 7-8 wickets in hand.

    But I believe from the beginning Sri Lanka would try to go for a draw.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 16, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    @ground-boy, it wont be a new record teams in the past have won, following declarations in both innings, the one that sticks out is England vs India in 1990 at Lords where England declared in both its first and second innings and won the game comfortably. I'm also pretty sure the Australians have achieved this on several occasions.

  • pandian_ikku on June 16, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    Yesterday England were 121/6. Sri Lanka had a very good chance to win this match if they could took the remaining 4 wickets another 50-60 runs. If that was the case Sri Lanka will be chasing 300 runs in 90 overs today. Unfortunately we do not have a bowler like Malinga to rip off the tail enders.

  • on June 16, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    This should be Karunaratne's last chance. If he fails in the second innings today, he should be dropped in the next match, with Thirimanne opening, and Chandimal, who has a test average of 50+, coming back into the middle order at 4 or 5.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 16, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    @yorkshire-86, agreed about the ODI captaincy, and we might yet see that change in the later part of the summer and for the Pre-WC tour to Aus, however who else would you suggest to be the Captain of the test side? You quickly condemn Cook as a captain and yet as with others you don't provide alternatives for discussion.

  • pandian_ikku on June 16, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    Sri Lanka should have batted first when they won the toss. On the 5th day Rangana could have been the key to Sri Lankan success.

  • katch47 on June 16, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    If Sri Lanka going to lose this test, its because of their appalling tail end batting

  • on June 16, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    Guys England will win. And the wicket will fall after lunch

  • YorkshirePudding on June 16, 2014, 8:23 GMT

    @dunger.bob, I agree the pitch was a bit of a road but its a typical Lords pitch good for batting on the first couple of days especially if the suns out, then starting to take spin on days 4 and 5, this is why I'm not confident that England can win as they are missing an attacking spinner, Moeen and root are at best defensive spinners, the draw is odds on to be favourite.

    As you state the first task when rebuilding is Not To Lose, once you are confident you can draw a game then you can look at going all out for the win.

  • ground-boy on June 16, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    If Cook braves his brain by the time the Cock takes breakfast to make the declaration, his captaincy may insert a new record row in cric-records-database as the captain winning a test match after making declarations in both innings?( 1 wicket in first & 2 in second). Sri Lanka lost to Pakistan early this year after declaring (1st and/or 2nd) inning/s in Dubai. . PAKs stormed on the 5th day scoring over 300/350 runs giving it a 50/50 kind of a treatment. PAKs achieved it within something more than 60/70 overs!! Same kind of final day scenario possible if Thirimanna L , Jayawardana P or Karunaratna D can score couple of centuries with the support of No.1 Test batsman Sanga , Mahela , Mathews and Kulasekara. Such a sporting declaration may give ENG victory rewriting Lords ground records by the time Portugal-Germany FIFA kick off……………

  • Darkmanx12155 on June 16, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    @ Nalin Peiris. You nailed it mate! Matthews is the worst guy to captain SL after Hashan Thilakarathne. Mattews is so negative in his approach. He will only draw games for SL never will he win games. SL need attacking captains like Arjuna. Or even Mahela was ok but now its a nose dive for the SL cricket in tests.

  • Darkmanx12155 on June 16, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    @ St.John Guys like Tharanga, Chandimal or even Paranavithana is way better than Dimuth who keeps on failing yet somehow the selectors seems to have a soft corner for him. He adds so much pressure to Sanga and out of form Mahela. He is a walking wicket for gods sake!

  • dunger.bob on June 16, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    This has turned out to be quite an interesting match despite the road they call a pitch. .. It's not beyond SL to get the runs IF they get a good solid start and can get themselves into a position to have a T20 style crack at it at the end. If they're game. .. England have got to attack nearly all the time if they want to win it. Keep the slips in, have a man deep on the leg side and pitch the ball up. With the occasional bouncer to keep them honest of course. .. Or both sides might settle for a draw. I'm looking forward to seeing which way it rolls.

  • Prabhash1985 on June 16, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    Before going inside the shell for a draw, I believe it'll be good if you let Dimuth a chance to hit as fast as he can, to reach a quick 50. If they do, it'll be something like 300 runs after lunch. If another guy like Mahela gets going in a steady pace, we can give a push for a win. Nothing is impossible. It's going to be a great victory if we win. If things don't go as we thought, like Dimuth get out so cheaply, then, we better go for a draw. Still, Sri Lanka can win. This score is not a big score. Hit them back, hit them hard!

  • Prabhash1985 on June 16, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    For the next match, surely there is an opportunity for a right arm off-spinner. Hope Sachi can join us.

  • St.John on June 16, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    thozar...another Indian fan deriding the Sri Lankans. The last time India met Sri Lanka the Indians were properly thrashed...Is this the same side you are predicting will win over England later this summer? While England have still not got it right this current side is far better than the one that lost badly at the Ashes. New faces and young players..

  • on June 16, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    Have England declared overnight?

  • on June 16, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    England will probably set a target of 400 for Sri Lanka which I think is near impossible for the Sri Lankans to achieve. They will be playing for a draw not to win because they will need to score at 4+ RPO to win. The two new openers look promising and need to give them a great start to keep the match alive.

  • St.John on June 16, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    Darkmanx12155 ...You seem to be giving Karunaratne a lot of stick. I don't agree that he's useless. He has given SL fairly good starts together with Kushal Silva. Additionally SL batters are absolutely not weak. They handled top class bowlers like Andersson, Broad, and Jordan with ease and flair, whilst England got easy runs facing SL's mediocre quickies. True, the SL tail is useless, but the top six are more than capable of saving this match if they adapt to the task.

  • thozar on June 16, 2014, 6:43 GMT

    Idk why my previous comment was not published. This test exposes what a mediocre side England is and why Aussies win over them in Australia was no big deal. Let's be honest, Sri Lanka is even worse a test side than England and what do England do? Let them score 460 and were themselves on the ropes at 121-6 till Gary Ballance recovered them from the slide. Even in the first innings they were doing poorly till Root with some help from Prior and the tail shored them up. They are playing at home against a side worse than them and they are still struggling to win. Who knows, with some luck, Sri Lanka may even pull off a win tomorrow. Although I would be glad if SRL don't win as that will dilute our performances later this summer. I am sure India will win convincingly against this Eng side. I mean, if they don't win now, they will not win for a long time. Eng is ripe for the taking. At that time, SRL fans will say that they also won. So, England to beat/draw SL and Ind to win!

  • on June 16, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    Safety first option from Cook. A very defensive move from a very limited Captain. At the moment a fairly tedious Test Match. So many other sports competing for top billing, Cook should consider that this is after all a spectator sport and he has some duty to entertain as well as safeguard his own position. Over rate is pathetic. Time to fine the umpires who should take some responsibility for managing the situation. It's £75.00 in the cheap seats and I felt short changed.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 16, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    Again a few positives from England though I do feel they are lacking a full time attacking spinner, who would make use of a 5th day lords pitch and batsmen going after him.

    I expect either an overnight declaration, 10 minutes before the start of play, or England to take the field for 20-30 minutes. just to disrupt preparation of the SL opening batsmen.

    The key as always will be Sanga and Jayawardena

  • Darkmanx12155 on June 16, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    @ LALITHKURUWITA u r damn right mate! Except for one point. Matthews did the right thing by bowling first. He know how weak his batting line up is. Dimuth is just a passenger who was lucky to sore 38 in the first innings. SL are in a very tricky situation here. They chasing anything above 300 on a day five pitch is totally out of the question. They have a walking wicket in the middle as soon as they start in Dimuth. england can win this fair and square if they declare today and have full 90 overs to rattle the weak SL line up. SL batters will not try to score but will try to survive. But in the end they will fall cheaply as they always do!

  • on June 16, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    Sri Lanka will badly miss Chandimal in their second innings. Also Kulasekera should be omitted form the playing XI, if they really need to win the second match. You can't win test matches with pedestrian fast bowlers.

  • CricketingStargazer on June 16, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    Sri Lanka's largest 4th innings chase away is 220-8 v Pak in 2000, so it was a real surprise that some Sri Lankan fans were claiming that they could score 360 easily in 60 overs to win the Test,

    Personally, I would have liked to see a declaration giving a few overs at Sri Lanka last night. Once the lead crossed 330, the chances that it would be chased down became minimal and there was no real justification for setting anything beyond 360 apart from giving the bowlers an overnight rest before bowling.

  • on June 16, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    With all due credit to Balance, (if any credit is due) did he score a century? Or a century was offered by Sri Lankan stupid bowling and fielding. Why on earth Mathews continued with Herath when he was reversed swept over and over again, batsman getting in to position even when Herath was still in his run-up and yet bowling to where the batsman was expecting him to bowl! Why was the wicket keeper sleeping when he very well can see the batsman's movements and do not make any attempt to make an early response to move to the leg? Was Mathews thinking Cook would declare at a lower score if he helped Balance to get to his century? In that case he should have got Balance to the striking end instead of giving the other batsman the opportunity to get to the batting end and keep hammering. Simple common sense was lacking let alone a strategy to win the game. Terrible!

  • anver777 on June 16, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    WOW !!! a confident "SIX" in the nineties by Ballance.... what a way to bring up his maiden test ton, this knock took Eng to a healthy lead & almost safe in the match !!! If SL takes the remaining 2wkts quickly & bats with positive intent then still can be chase down this target... difficult but not impossible !!!!

  • Galmos on June 16, 2014, 5:09 GMT

    Sri lanka probably will experience the consequences of giving the place of Chandimal to Prasnna Jayawardene in this match. A guy who averages over 50 in test cricket is very handy to have in your late middle order.

  • saravananunga on June 16, 2014, 4:55 GMT

    Leaving umpiring decisions apart lets see if lanka can atleast cross 250 in final day they have to really sweat a lot to save this test match.their previous records of last day is also no that great lets see

  • on June 16, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    Come on Sri lanka you can do it . Make it a 80 over ODI and go for the kill.Never mind loosing an attempt is worth it.

  • St.John on June 16, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    The much derided SL bowling attack suddenly struck gold or what? Boycott (SL's attack worse than Yorkshire's) Vaughan (SL's attack just county standard) and the 'Independent' (SL's attack of the pop-gun variety). Pop gun or not SL face a difficult 5th day. Their batting stops at 6,with the tail practically useless.

  • on June 16, 2014, 4:40 GMT

    we badly miss malinga here...to prevent tail enders like jordan and broad from scoring runs...the tail enders ai are the difference between the two sides,,,sri lankan tail useless and england tail scoring 200-250 bonus runs...anyway hopefully our batsmen will not play stupidly and gift this medicore england team a victory on the last day...

  • ground-boy on June 16, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    Mathews is the first to score a century at first attempt at Lords captaining Sri Lanka.May be the first ever captain to do so in Tests at Lords? SL's new captain cool. How many reviewing mockeries went in favour of England? Why set a norm not to change on-field decision when ball is going to thud the mid point of the middle stump while using precious technology? Is it a rule from the Wisden-bible? turning 5 long days cricket hopeless draws. Sporting declaration might provide a result.

  • Lmaotsetung on June 16, 2014, 4:25 GMT

    Let's not forget Cardiff 2011 :P Could history repeat itself? Stay tune! lol

  • on June 16, 2014, 3:58 GMT

    Umpires can make huge impact for the game... They can create winners and looser by giving unfair decisions. So there should be a monitoring system for them and points system should implement. After the each match, Match referee should give a report to the ICC on wrong umpiring and it's effect to the match.

  • kovinbuddi on June 16, 2014, 3:42 GMT

    I am very dissapointed to see very very poor umpiring by a well recognised umpire like Billy Bowden.Very bad Billy.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on June 16, 2014, 3:37 GMT

    So England have found the superheroes within themselves have they? Did anyone notice over 1000 runs were scored in the first innings on a wicket prepared to give England a chance of not getting rolled again. England score too slowly to trouble the top 4 sides and let's be realistic, they don't have the personnel to beat them either.

  • landl47 on June 16, 2014, 3:21 GMT

    Although it was a good effort by Sri Lanka, in the end, England are still in the driver's seat in this game as they have been at the end of every day's play. In this form of cricket SL just don't have the players to compete with the better sides. Tomorrow SL's chances of saving the game will again, as for most of the last 15 years, rest with Sanga and Mahela.

    If England had Swann in the line-up, they'd be odds-on to win on a dry 5th-day pitch. However, with Moeen as lead spinner, the outcome is not so certain. England took time to work their way through the SL line-up in the first innings and might run out of it before wrapping up the second. It should be a good challenge.

    @xtrafalgarx: true, but since then England has had to replace Strauss, Trott, KP and Collingwood. When, in the next couple of years, Australia has to replace Rogers, Watson, Clarke and Haddin, it'll be interesting to see how the new guys get on. So far, it's hard even to guess who they'll be.

  • Humdingers on June 16, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    If this is the "new look" England, it looks like they are have gone back in time and happy to play for draws rather than be aggressive and go for the win. Not much a of a tone being set by Cook and Moores. Safety first is not what makes good teams turn great (not saying they are good at the moment either).

    And when Lords dishes up 1,300 runs in 4 days = A fantastic pitch If in the Subcontinent = Dustbowl; flat track; Terrible Test match cricket etc.

    Go figure.

  • rk_ks on June 16, 2014, 1:37 GMT

    SL blaming again on umpiring. If the umpiring decision favors SL then they would have told "umpiring mistakes are common part of game". If SL is world class then one bad umpiring decision shouldn't cost a test match.

  • hasa555 on June 16, 2014, 1:26 GMT

    I'm very disappointed with the umpires. not only this match but whole series. Are they in elite panel ?

  • Prodger on June 16, 2014, 0:50 GMT

    It was satisfying to see Ballance score his maiden test ton, he played with prudence when necessary but latterly unfurled his fine array of strokes his admirers know he is capable of. He still tends to be vulnerable outside the off stump, not unusual for a left hander, but he certainly has the temperament and patience to succeed at test level. His appearances for Yorkshire will, in the foreseeable future, be strictly limited....

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on June 16, 2014, 0:46 GMT

    This was always destined to go 1 way.Tame draw.Looked like it on 1st day itself.On to d5 it has only got slower,flatter if anything with nothing for bowlers save odd 1 nip off v rare cracks 1ce in a while.But none of the bowlers this game is a Mcgrath.

  • Darkmanx12155 on June 16, 2014, 0:20 GMT

    This is englands game. they missed a trick by not bowling at the weak SL batting linup at least 10 overs last eve. It would have given england the added advantage of getting another new ball today. I think the game is hedding this way "http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-sri-lanka-2011/engine/match/474463.html"

    SL fans, can you remember Cardiff?

  • dunger.bob on June 15, 2014, 23:02 GMT

    If you take Ballances runs away, England are looking a bit sick in that 2nd dig. They'll miss a genuine spinner when the Lankans bat to save the game as well I bet

  • on June 15, 2014, 22:56 GMT

    The lower order got us out of a bit of a hole in early afternoon, and 389 should be enough to declare overnight and have a go at trying to win the Test.

  • Patchmaster on June 15, 2014, 22:54 GMT

    All we need now is Hales in for Cook, and this ENG team will have the base to really go forward. Plus Hales scores his runs much quicker (at a Warner like rate !) so will always put Eng in the driving seat and give the team a more 'Aussie' like aggressive feel. Cook is a wonderful bloke, but that doesn't give you rights to the opening spot unfortunately. He'll be back I'm sure, but for now, it's time for Hales.

  • on June 15, 2014, 22:23 GMT

    This was an absolute disgrace from Alastair Cook and the England Management. He is the most defensive boring captain I have ever seen! No wonder Lords was around a 1/4 full. Test cricket is going to die under leadership like this! Why not put Sri Lanka in for a good 10/15 overs before the close of play? England will be truly up against it now and bar serious luck this game will be a draw.

  • VillageBlacksmith on June 15, 2014, 21:51 GMT

    Ballance said this in interview…. "Getting the chance to bat at number three for England is not something you are going to say no to " Unless you are Ian Bell??????? Time for bell to go and for eng to continue the revolution and bring in the next generation of players… A Lyth & J Taylor…

  • JG2704 on June 15, 2014, 21:28 GMT

    Followed this on radio updates on Talksport as I was out and not in an area where I could get R4 on my pocket radio. It seems like today the overhead conditions helped BOTH sets of bowlers and I wonder - as discussed on The Verdict - if England should have maybe gone for the jugular and gone for an earlier declaration while bowling conditions were better and I believe they could have had 2 new balls? Obviously the game would be different it we didn't have such poor umpiring and Eng would have been all out for 250 in the 1st inns and the consistent, highly ranked SL side would have won by an inns by now. I notice some have been saying that SL should have batted first. I wonder if that was such an obvious decision when Eng were 2 down for not much over 20? Also wonder if that would be another luck factor cited had Eng won the toss?

  • LankaPuthra on June 15, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    During the Balance-Jordan partnership, why didn't Matthews bowl? Why didn't he use a part time bowler? I was hoping he would do something unorthodox to try and break that partnership. Strange in deed.

  • neil99 on June 15, 2014, 20:28 GMT

    1) Plunkett bags 2 for over 100 runs. A poor selection. 2) A poor attack has England on the rack in a non pressure situation. Those believing a miracle had occurred are sadly mistaken. 3) Well done to Ballance and Jordan. 4) Lords produces yet another poor, slow pitch. The "home of cricket" should prepare a good track to showcase the game, not these nothing pitches. 5) Cook and Bell must produce otherwise they need to be dropped - both are averaging mid to low 30s in tests played since the start of 2013.

  • PACERONE on June 15, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    Cook taking 34 balls to score 4 runs tells the story of a negative captain.His batting tells one that he is on his way out of the team if you listen to some of his speeches.

  • Happy_hamster on June 15, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    I would have liked a declaration allowing 40 minutes bowling before the close, but that was never going to happen, I like Cook but he is not aggressive enough (no slips this morning) and I guess never will be, c'est la vie. Plenty of positives for England mainly in the confidence stakes (Root, Prior, Ali, Ballance) and that is a massive factor in test cricket. A draw is odds on now and barring a phenomenal bowling performance/batting collapse but....remember Caerdydd last time round. ps I think Jordan, Root, Ali, Balance (maybe Robson) will be the nucleus of England in the coming years.

  • on June 15, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    Excellent umpiring all game. Dunno what some of you sore losers are talking about. England should have declared earlier if only to add a bit of 'spice' to the match, but as one of my favourite batsmen it was nice to see Ballance get a century. Good scoring rate again by England. Right up at 4 an over. Over to Sri Lanka.

  • Lord_Flashheart on June 15, 2014, 19:26 GMT

    @momer79 - The umpiring has been exemplary, not one single wrong decision in the match.

    Well done to Ballance - a rare talent this lad.

  • milepost on June 15, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    So they prepared a pitch to give some false confidence to England, not sure that was a good plan but after a little while everybody could see England are out of their depth at international level. Players like Ballance are exactly why England will never challenge the top 6 again, too slow, even for county level. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Roshan_P on June 15, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    Ballance was good today especially because he had to claw back the situation, even though it was a batsman's wicket. He seems a good batsman and definitely should get a long run at first-drop. There increasingly seems to be no room for Taylor or Compton which is a little disappointing. Cook's run of form, especially not being able to score on a wicket like this, is getting really worrying now.

  • on June 15, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    very poor captaincy cook n co..England should dec before one hour the bails take off...ballance not hurry to take runs in last one hour...welldone angi n ballance for their first hundred in loards..

  • on June 15, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    well played by SL.well bowled in 2nd innings and really made this game. however it looked more towards a draw now. some months ago SL and mathews were heavily criticized for being too defensive in 3rd test against pakistan and was something around 5rpo was left for pak to chase.this time SL may get around 4.5 to chase. so a good chance for SL to win it and rectify that defencive tag. England will also try to win it. they are very much safe now and wicket has something in it. good tons by 2 young guys. but england batting looks a bit thin than before.goodluck

  • on June 15, 2014, 18:51 GMT

    cricket is not played for one man...england should dec before one hour the bails take off..very poor captancy cook n co...

  • Stonking on June 15, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    Yet again it seems we're not "allowed" to rough up the opposition (re bowling at SL tail) yet remember folks, we get no favours when we go abroad. The last time we did was probably the Sobers declaration against us for WI in 67-68 that turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life.

  • Seamer_Singh on June 15, 2014, 18:39 GMT

    Well done Mathews and Ballance today. Eng have taken the game away from SL, can't seem them making 400 runs in one day, all SL can do is battle for a draw. Should be an interesting final session tomorrow, if it gets to that!

  • on June 15, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Overhead conditions seemed to make the difference. Damp air, heavy cloud, very humid with the floodlights on - and a few spots of rain here and there - and the pitch looks a different proposition. Once thy cleared up it was "business as usual". Great to see Sri Lanka had a seamer to take advantage of those conditions while they lasted - but once it eased up and the cooler evening air came in - it was back to "business as usual" for one of the most boring test matches I've ever seen.

  • LAKINGSFAN on June 15, 2014, 18:03 GMT

    It's either draw or Eng win.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 15, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    Awesome performance by Ballance! Cook may still not have the Kookaburra's for a sporting declaration, but at least he's let Ballance earn his name on the honours' board. Great knock there under pressure from the clock more than anything else.

  • Jeewaka9999 on June 15, 2014, 17:26 GMT

    SL should try to take England last 4 Wkts cheaply. Otherwise no point of taking early wickets Bcoz final total won't be changed

  • on June 15, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    just poor from England they should have back themselves to out Sri Lanka below 300.

  • Jeewaka9999 on June 15, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    Both innings Sri Lanka bowled well initially. But why do they allow last 4 England batsmen to score more runs? This is poor. 1st inning last 3 batsmen scored nearly 300 runs with root. This will be same for 2nd innings. I think SL should think this seriously before next match.

  • yorkshire-86 on June 15, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    Why is everyone saying Robson is the only one failing? Cook lately - Brisbane fail 50, Adelade fail fail, WACA 50 fail, MCG low 50, SCG fail fail, and then the current test fail fail. Thats 3 50s, 1 low score, and 8 total failures. 2/3 of his innings he is scoring under 20 - that is nowhere near consistent enough. His test form has gone south ever since he was shoehorned into the ODI captaincy, a format that until then he didnt even play. Also he offers nothing as either a captain nor a ODI player, he should be restored to what he was best at - purely a Test player, playing in the ranks under a proper captain.

  • jb633 on June 15, 2014, 17:03 GMT

    This Lord's pitch should be reported to the ICC. Terrible test match wicket.

  • rajcan on June 15, 2014, 16:53 GMT

    Current SL bowling attack does not have bowlers who can easily remove tail enders. If you take any team, including this England team, they are happy if they remove top 6, then for them matter of few owes to remove next 4.

    But for SL, if you look at the stats, many tail enders had scored enough runs against SL. The reason being SL does not have penetrating bowlers who can make tail enders live miserable. Example Broad and Anderson peppered Herath and eventually Herath fell to Jordan.

    SL bowlers are only good enough for batsman playing shot. Because of the nature of top order batsman, they look to score runs and play shot, and they get out too. After the top order leaves, tail enders, they don't play shot, they tend to occupy crease and make some runs, and that works well against SL. This is why SL could not remove tail enders in the England first innings, and is the same in the second innings too. They were quick to remove top orders and get stuck with tail enders.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 15, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    I'm already predicting lots of debates about 'declare, or not declare'... Personally I'd bat on to the end of the day and declare overnight; target score of around 333 would make things interesting, but my money's still on the draw.

  • milepost on June 15, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    The top order failed again, Cook failed again, Prior regained his poor form (a pair would have been a better reflection of his current form), Root back to usual, Anderson useless without a swinging ball, debutants that look like ordinary county crickets etc etc. How long can this team carry Cook? So much for not getting on with KP huh? Australia would absolutely destroy this side at the moment (again). India looking good for a comfortable series win when they arrive. Sri Lanka look to be cleaning up too despite their coach defecting to England.

  • momer79 on June 15, 2014, 14:56 GMT

    very poor umpiring.

    Poor umpiring can easily change the game.

  • Prabhash1985 on June 15, 2014, 14:40 GMT

    English are known for weak sweepers, so why not give a try to make them play?

  • Prabhash1985 on June 15, 2014, 14:33 GMT

    It's a big loss that we don't have Sachi in the team! Miss him so much. Could have been a lethal weapon in this skiddy surface.

  • on June 15, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    this is poor poor poor umpiring so bad so sad..billy

  • xtrafalgarx on June 15, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    England's got a lotof workto do yet before their batting order is anything like they were in 2010/11.

  • on June 15, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Looks like damn flat wicket and going to me a tame draw albeit something very un natural happens.

  • on June 15, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    Please relieve Alistair Cook from the Captaincy and One day so that he can regain his batting in order for England to again consolidate their batting and performance in Test Cricket

  • Blade-Runner on June 15, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    @ markatnotts; Sri Lanka's slower run rate pretty understandable . SL batsmen were obviously being cautious coz they had a total of 575 to match. If England had batted second, it would have been the same scenario. Btw, Cook's tactic of spreading the field was pretty negative, especially against a world class batsman like Mathews.

  • Prabhash1985 on June 15, 2014, 12:15 GMT

    No need to be negative. Should be positive. Sri Lanka should try all the spinners, no matter they are part timers. Should try to take the wickets, targeting the rough. Let them go back foot. The run rate is too much. Faster bowlers should go corridor line, inviting them to go and fetch the ball. They should reduce the run rate, that's the first thing to do.

  • markatnotts on June 15, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    Well despite the wild accusations that England have been negative and completely 'flayed' around for 3 days we have scored quicker than SL, have dome kind of lead and still have a chance to get a win on this bland surface. It is going to be hard, as I have stated before the pitch surely can't deteriorate as it started with grass on.

  • LALITHKURUWITA on June 15, 2014, 12:02 GMT

    Lead is too much for SL. Eng should win this match in the final session of the final day. Mathiew's decision to bowl first was wrong.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 15, 2014, 11:55 GMT

    Congratulations to Mathews. Beautifully wrapped up by England this morning; they've had an awful habit of allowing the opposing tails to wag too much against them of late, so to come out and run through the tail cheaply like that is very commendable/pleasing to see. That's the fastest I've seen Anderson bowl for ages...

    Alas, I still feel the draw's on the cards here. There's some rare intent from the England openers (Cook's SR is 80 as I type), but can England really post a defendable score AND pick up the ten wickets needed for a surprise win? Not impossible, but I'm saying 'highly improbable'...

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 15, 2014, 11:55 GMT

    Congratulations to Mathews. Beautifully wrapped up by England this morning; they've had an awful habit of allowing the opposing tails to wag too much against them of late, so to come out and run through the tail cheaply like that is very commendable/pleasing to see. That's the fastest I've seen Anderson bowl for ages...

    Alas, I still feel the draw's on the cards here. There's some rare intent from the England openers (Cook's SR is 80 as I type), but can England really post a defendable score AND pick up the ten wickets needed for a surprise win? Not impossible, but I'm saying 'highly improbable'...

  • LALITHKURUWITA on June 15, 2014, 12:02 GMT

    Lead is too much for SL. Eng should win this match in the final session of the final day. Mathiew's decision to bowl first was wrong.

  • markatnotts on June 15, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    Well despite the wild accusations that England have been negative and completely 'flayed' around for 3 days we have scored quicker than SL, have dome kind of lead and still have a chance to get a win on this bland surface. It is going to be hard, as I have stated before the pitch surely can't deteriorate as it started with grass on.

  • Prabhash1985 on June 15, 2014, 12:15 GMT

    No need to be negative. Should be positive. Sri Lanka should try all the spinners, no matter they are part timers. Should try to take the wickets, targeting the rough. Let them go back foot. The run rate is too much. Faster bowlers should go corridor line, inviting them to go and fetch the ball. They should reduce the run rate, that's the first thing to do.

  • Blade-Runner on June 15, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    @ markatnotts; Sri Lanka's slower run rate pretty understandable . SL batsmen were obviously being cautious coz they had a total of 575 to match. If England had batted second, it would have been the same scenario. Btw, Cook's tactic of spreading the field was pretty negative, especially against a world class batsman like Mathews.

  • on June 15, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    Please relieve Alistair Cook from the Captaincy and One day so that he can regain his batting in order for England to again consolidate their batting and performance in Test Cricket

  • on June 15, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Looks like damn flat wicket and going to me a tame draw albeit something very un natural happens.

  • xtrafalgarx on June 15, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    England's got a lotof workto do yet before their batting order is anything like they were in 2010/11.

  • on June 15, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    this is poor poor poor umpiring so bad so sad..billy

  • Prabhash1985 on June 15, 2014, 14:33 GMT

    It's a big loss that we don't have Sachi in the team! Miss him so much. Could have been a lethal weapon in this skiddy surface.