England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 2nd day June 21, 2014

Sri Lanka hit back after maiden Robson ton

51

England 320 for 6 (Jordan 4*, Prior 3*) lead Sri Lanka 257 by 63 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Play 01:12
Robson shows grit, Bell shows highlights

Sam Robson. It is a name that signifies no messing, a straightforward, orthodox sort of name. It will sound even more upstanding to those who watched Sam Robson make his maiden Test hundred at Headingley.

Do not be fooled by the instant rewards of a hundred in only his second Test. Nothing is likely to come easily for Robson in his England Test career. He is a batsman of few fripperies, earnestly committed to the long haul. He made 127 before Nuwan Pradeep, armed with the second new ball, brought one back to strike his off stump, causing England to stumble to a lead of 63 with four wickets remaining by the close.

That lead is not what it should be. Sri Lanka made excellent use of that second new ball as evening cloud cover thickened. From 278 for 2, England subsided to 313 for 6. Joe Root was furious with himself at guiding Angelo Mathews to the wicketkeeper. Moeen Ali was worked over too easily for his own peace of mind, driving loosely at Shaminda Eranga, the innings of a Headingley ingénue. Sri Lanka are still in the Test, a reward for hanging in there.

The meat of the day for England - a slow roast - came in a second-wicket stand between Robson and Gary Ballance of 142 in 49 overs, a productive alliance between two new players to warm a selector's heart. Ballance was occasionally the more robust, but Robson possessed an understated quality.

There was also an overly cute innings of 64 from Ian Bell, who was warmly received on his 100th Test - proof of a more exalted status these days - and who provided the impetus England needed, but nevertheless seemed a little too lightsome, addicted to the back cut that has brought him so much sustenance over the past year. He was strangled down the leg side, flicking at a nondescript ball from Eranga.

Mathews, a reluctant fourth seamer, his injury issues no doubt at the forefront of his mind, bowled at around 75mph (120kph) yet drew as much seam and bounce as any Sri Lanka bowler from the surface. He could also have dismissed Matt Prior for nought but failed to hold a low catch as he dived heavily to his right. With worse luck, Prior's Test comeback could have resulted in three successive ducks.

But it was Robson's intensity which characterised this Test match Saturday. It was fancy dress day at Headingley, and alongside a motley collection of scouts, crusaders and mime artists, he enacted the role of a forensic scientist, microscope pressed firmly against his eye, rejecting excess, intent on the pursuit of evidence.

The crowd watched Robson patiently, but not as intently as Robson watched the ball. He might have been auditioning for a role in Silent Witness, except with the most adventurous lines removed from the script. He did not just watch the ball; he appeared to be looking for stray fibres which might just help him unravel the secrets of the game.

On this occasion, there were not too many secrets to unravel. Headingley can still become treacherous for batsmen when the mood takes it, but this was a day when it rolled over and allowed its tummy to be tickled. Sri Lanka's trio of frontline pace bowlers maintained disciplined lines, but they received little assistance and, as such, the procession of right-armers seeking to move the ball away from the right-hander became samey.

Robson looked quite mechanical on his Test debut at Lord's, tension no doubt contributing to that, but as he made unflustered progress, so his body relaxed. His strength looks to be the off-side drive, off the front foot, but partial to that shot or not, he was rarely drawn into extravagance.

This was a circumspect innings, one which at times made the longest day of the year seem a little longer, but one which steadily edged England into a position of authority on a day as they lost only one wicket in each of the first two sessions.

Alastair Cook, a captain uncertain in his game, continued to struggle, making 17 to follow scores of 17 and 28 in the first Test at Lord's. Headingley was the venue for his last Test century, but this year it was the source of more breast-beating. He fell to Dhammika Prasad, a bat dangler as he pushed forward half-heartedly, held low by Kumar Sangakkara at first slip.

Bowlers think that by maintaining a fuller length they have his measure. He will probably have to play forward for the rest of his Test career and he needs to find a response.

Robson's fifty had a dash of impatience as he forced Pradeep off the back foot between slip and gully. Concentration disturbed, he had a nibble at the next one and almost edged to the wicketkeeper. Slim and fresh faced, he quietly admonished himself: a silent witness to his own error.

Ballance approaches an innings, one suspects, with less complexity. When Sri Lanka pitched the ball around off stump, his surname was inappropriate; he was liable to get into a tangle. If he was a forensic scientist, he would drop the odd test tube. Give him a clip off his hips, the chance to sweep the spinner or to cut off the back foot and he looks more at home.

It took a successful England review to spare him on 33 when umpire Billy Bowden adjudged him lbw to Rangana Herath as he trudged inelegantly into a straight ball, only for replays to show the ball turning high and wide of leg stump. Herath was again unfortunate when Ballance was dropped at short leg on 61, Kaushal Silva failing to get down to a catch by his right boot. He finally succumbed to an innocuous length delivery from Mathews which he guided to the wicketkeeper.

A more flamboyant player might have wanted their maiden hundred won or lost before tea, but not Robson. Bell contrived to give him three deliveries in the penultimate over, against the left-arm spin of Herath, but he could not pierce the off-side field. He gave him another three balls on strike in the last over, against Mathews, but he could only pick off a single. Bell gave him another single. One ball left, one could imagine him telling himself to play it on its merits: he blocked it.

He addressed that in the second over after tea - chasing a wide, full one from Prasad and guiding it through cover. He even then skipped down the pitch to deposit Herath over long-on for six - and he only has half-a-dozen of those in his first-class career.

But as the new ball came, and Robson departed, Sri Lanka infiltrated England's celebrations, leaving Cook's expression on the dressing room balcony a touch more troubled than it had been an hour before. Robson, like many a measured batsman before him, was most appreciated after he was gone.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gowers_Great_Tiger_Moth_Flyby on June 22, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    England not sitting so pretty after all. A typical collapse against a very modest attack, including 4 wickets to the part timer Angelo Matthews. Then to follow up, the usually reliable Jordan spoons a dolly. Those thinking England have shaken off the Ashes shackles are sorely mistaken. The opposition flatters us and all of the old fallibility is just under the surface eg numerous dropped catches (Prior's miss was inexcusable) and another sub 400 first innings total. There's a long way to go yet before England are exuding this hard brand of cricket Cook waffles on about.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on June 22, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    Great comeback by the Lankan Lions. 100 run lead. If Sanga (better than Sachin) and Mahela can drop anchor and score big, Lankans will fancy themselves. Englands batting lineup looks very inexperienced but with promise.

  • CodandChips on June 22, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    This test match looks nicely poised. Early wickets and Sri Lanka are in. Lower order runs and England can take advantage.

    English batting future looks bright. Hundreds for Robson, Ballance and Root already, and Bell has scored two classy fifties. Vince, Lyth and Taylor are also waiting in the wings. Of course a lot will be made of the low quality bowling attacks faced this summer as opposed to Australia and South Africa and Pakistan. But encouraging signs nonetheless.

    Bowlers have all at points taken wickets. Prior scored runs and kept ok. Only concerns are Cook and Ali. Cook's obvious poor form. Ali throwing his wickets away and lack of threat win the ball.

    But the signs are bright overall.

  • on June 22, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @Prabhash You just answered your question. If the ball is new, it doens't remain new everytime and a lot depends on bowlers skill. Not everyone is a Malinga. Bouncer you can but given the pace of Sri Lankan bowlers in tests, that ask seems a bit too much to be honest. I play Hard ball cricket and I can assure you, not everyone can do the things you said. That's why we don't have world class bowlers every now and then.

  • on June 22, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    Finding it quite funny all these Sri Lankan fans saying all we need to do is set England a target of 350 then Herath will bamboozle them ha ha , seriously you will be very lucky if your not trailing by 150 , meaning you'd need to make 500 in your second innings for that 350 lead. You only have two batsmen who are capable of making any sort of decent score, so let's face it your not going to make much more than 250 as already proven in the 2 tests.

  • Herath-UK on June 22, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Lets hope Thrimanne will do somewhat like a Sanga coming out with a good innings in his last to showcase his promise. Let's wish him well.

  • southstoke49 on June 22, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    I ma pleased for Robson and Balance seems to be carrying his form on from the last test. However the batting overall is still worrying especially in context of playing Sri Lanka who are ok but still developing, especially in the bowling post Murali. Bell is consistently making pretty 50's but nothing more, Prior has been incredibly lucky not to be out for 3 ducks and no more seems to be said of Cook.

    There is an interesting contrast with SL who have only 2 experienced batsman who are to an extent carrying the others while they develop -and doing it very successfully. England seem to have it the other way round.

  • pz97 on June 22, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    I think the cause of failure of England's batting is that they tinker their batting line up in every series... In every series there is a different bowler and a different batting line up... Dropping Michael Lumb from ODI line up was a big mistake as Lumb had a good series in WI having scored an ODI century on debut... Making Jos Buttler bat at no 7 in ODI is also a blunder as how talented wicketkeeper batsman he is... He should open for England in ODI's..Also Morgan and Cook have been a bit late out of form. In test Sam Robson played well and hope Ian Bell will continue his masterclass act.

  • Prabhash1985 on June 22, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    @Shane Bond : If the ball is relatively new, you can. If the ball swings, you have to save the shine, true, but the odd bouncer is available any time for a good quickie. It's possible, and seems you haven't played hard ball cricket.

  • Blade-Runner on June 22, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    SL bowled really well in the last session. England should have been 320/8 but unfortunately both Prior n Jordan were dropped. I hope that SL will mop up the England tail within 1st hour.

  • Gowers_Great_Tiger_Moth_Flyby on June 22, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    England not sitting so pretty after all. A typical collapse against a very modest attack, including 4 wickets to the part timer Angelo Matthews. Then to follow up, the usually reliable Jordan spoons a dolly. Those thinking England have shaken off the Ashes shackles are sorely mistaken. The opposition flatters us and all of the old fallibility is just under the surface eg numerous dropped catches (Prior's miss was inexcusable) and another sub 400 first innings total. There's a long way to go yet before England are exuding this hard brand of cricket Cook waffles on about.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on June 22, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    Great comeback by the Lankan Lions. 100 run lead. If Sanga (better than Sachin) and Mahela can drop anchor and score big, Lankans will fancy themselves. Englands batting lineup looks very inexperienced but with promise.

  • CodandChips on June 22, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    This test match looks nicely poised. Early wickets and Sri Lanka are in. Lower order runs and England can take advantage.

    English batting future looks bright. Hundreds for Robson, Ballance and Root already, and Bell has scored two classy fifties. Vince, Lyth and Taylor are also waiting in the wings. Of course a lot will be made of the low quality bowling attacks faced this summer as opposed to Australia and South Africa and Pakistan. But encouraging signs nonetheless.

    Bowlers have all at points taken wickets. Prior scored runs and kept ok. Only concerns are Cook and Ali. Cook's obvious poor form. Ali throwing his wickets away and lack of threat win the ball.

    But the signs are bright overall.

  • on June 22, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @Prabhash You just answered your question. If the ball is new, it doens't remain new everytime and a lot depends on bowlers skill. Not everyone is a Malinga. Bouncer you can but given the pace of Sri Lankan bowlers in tests, that ask seems a bit too much to be honest. I play Hard ball cricket and I can assure you, not everyone can do the things you said. That's why we don't have world class bowlers every now and then.

  • on June 22, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    Finding it quite funny all these Sri Lankan fans saying all we need to do is set England a target of 350 then Herath will bamboozle them ha ha , seriously you will be very lucky if your not trailing by 150 , meaning you'd need to make 500 in your second innings for that 350 lead. You only have two batsmen who are capable of making any sort of decent score, so let's face it your not going to make much more than 250 as already proven in the 2 tests.

  • Herath-UK on June 22, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Lets hope Thrimanne will do somewhat like a Sanga coming out with a good innings in his last to showcase his promise. Let's wish him well.

  • southstoke49 on June 22, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    I ma pleased for Robson and Balance seems to be carrying his form on from the last test. However the batting overall is still worrying especially in context of playing Sri Lanka who are ok but still developing, especially in the bowling post Murali. Bell is consistently making pretty 50's but nothing more, Prior has been incredibly lucky not to be out for 3 ducks and no more seems to be said of Cook.

    There is an interesting contrast with SL who have only 2 experienced batsman who are to an extent carrying the others while they develop -and doing it very successfully. England seem to have it the other way round.

  • pz97 on June 22, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    I think the cause of failure of England's batting is that they tinker their batting line up in every series... In every series there is a different bowler and a different batting line up... Dropping Michael Lumb from ODI line up was a big mistake as Lumb had a good series in WI having scored an ODI century on debut... Making Jos Buttler bat at no 7 in ODI is also a blunder as how talented wicketkeeper batsman he is... He should open for England in ODI's..Also Morgan and Cook have been a bit late out of form. In test Sam Robson played well and hope Ian Bell will continue his masterclass act.

  • Prabhash1985 on June 22, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    @Shane Bond : If the ball is relatively new, you can. If the ball swings, you have to save the shine, true, but the odd bouncer is available any time for a good quickie. It's possible, and seems you haven't played hard ball cricket.

  • Blade-Runner on June 22, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    SL bowled really well in the last session. England should have been 320/8 but unfortunately both Prior n Jordan were dropped. I hope that SL will mop up the England tail within 1st hour.

  • on June 22, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    we are not good test playing nation there are some out standing players like sangakkara and murali but as a team we are poor cant help that is the truth lets enjoy odi and t20 borth we are no 2

  • cric_J on June 22, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    A fine, fine day of test cricket. Really good effort from Sri Lanka to get those 4 late wickets & win the last session. But England still on top at stumps.

    Superbly constructed innings from Sam Robson. A pretty mature & promising effort for a player of his age and international experience. Fine effort by Ballance once again. Bell looked in good touch too & could have done better to avoid his dismissal & maybe get that "100 in 100th". Moeen's dismissal was off putting to say the least. He must refrain from throwing away his wicket. Done it 3 out of 3 times now.

    With the kind of platform set by Ballance & Robson, England would (& should) be disappointed at stumps. They'd ideally have wanted a lead of of 150-200. Given the wicket still has plenty for the bowlers & there's still 3 whole days of cricket to be played, a result seems certain. If Jordan, Prior & Broady can give England a lead of 120+ & they then chip a couple of early wickets with the ball, England will fancy their chances.

  • on June 22, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    @Prabhash It ain't that easy to bowl a bouncer and follow it with inswinger. Whatever you said is just plain wrong mate.

  • on June 22, 2014, 6:50 GMT

    Australian, South African, Irish.... We don't care we are a multi cultural society:)

  • Mervo on June 22, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    Good to see England's resurgence based on an Australian under 19s player and a Zimbabwean. One has to wonder what has happened to the English schools system and the many good players they used to produce.

  • Prabhash1985 on June 22, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka should stop going to the "saving mode", rather they should realize that they can play "attacking cricket" rather than "defensive". That's their strength. So, I would say, after wrapping up the innings with some boucers followed by yokers or corrirdor line balls with proper commitment and discipline, Sri Lanka should send someone like Dhammika Prasad to hit a few boundaries for 1 down position, and give Dimuth the chance to play aggressive cricket in between 10-20 overs. This way, you can avoid the long tail, so as play a bit of mind game to change the English plans. Mathews doesn't know what our team strength is, and it's dissapointing. He just thinks this is the right thing to do at this moment, but Sri Lankans are not capable of such action. He has to learn tactics. He is dry with tactics. In this regard, Mahela has to help him in discussions. Why not ball the odd bouncer, followed by an in-swining yoker? Very dissapointed about Sri Lankan tactics.Play nasty cricket

  • on June 22, 2014, 6:17 GMT

    Its good to know Mathews is taking wickets .The other bowlers need to step up .All five need to chip in with wickets .Bell shows again why he has been the most consistent eng batsman in the last one year. SL need to bundle out Eng under 400 to have any chance .Eng would look g for 450 as a target before being all out.

  • Balumekka on June 22, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    @Prem2248: No point in talking about the commentary. When England bat: everything goes through the covers and fine leg are off the middle. When Sri Lanka bats they are all off the thick edges.

  • bootlicker on June 22, 2014, 5:37 GMT

    Still England are the favorites for a win but, if SL could make a lead of 350+ in the fourth innings, there is no doubt Herath will bambooze Eng. All depends on the first innings lead Eng can make today. Again the lead is less than 150, it would be anybody's game.

  • on June 22, 2014, 5:22 GMT

    Considering the form of both sides at the moment , it is obvious that England is ahead of Sri Lanka in both batting and balling discipline.It seems to be only Sanga could face English attack fearlessly and also opening pair in the srilanka side is far beyond the requirement.Under this circumstance wining or averting an innings defeat by Srilanka is very remote.This situation could have changed if the selectors of Srilanka had the faith of other spinners in their camp.

  • cric1965 on June 22, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    Chandimal should bat at number 5 and out of form Thirimanna should bat at number 7. What ever the score England wil score in 1st innings, Sri Lanka should bat positively in second innngs and give some target for England . Fourth innings, this pitch will deteriorate and even 200 can be match winning total. If Sri lanka play negative cricket to save the match they will end up with defeat.

  • on June 22, 2014, 2:52 GMT

    The best Sri lanka can do is prevent a innings lost. A draw is beyond possibility. Three days left , even if England declare or gets all out by lunch on the third day sri lanka have 5 sessions to survive for a draw. With the strong bowling line up England got , i reckon Sri lanka will be all out by the fourth day.

    England on the other hand should target a 150 lead and declare by lunch today and leave the rest to the bowlers. I would be surprised if they let the match end up in a draw.

    Better luck next time Sri Lanka, you might need to brush up the bowling department specially the fast bowlers.

  • Mervo on June 22, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    Good to see the Aussie born opener Robson doing well

  • on June 22, 2014, 2:42 GMT

    it looks all set to become the all too predictable scenario in this test also,with the medicore srilankan attack failing to remove the england tail cheaply and tail enders guiding them to 550+,prior getting a lucky break on nought each time...afterwards a lankan batting collapse giving us a innings defeat on day four,really angry at the selectors for selecting this test team filled with talentless travellers...really we deserve to lose even to a school team...

  • bjcm12 on June 22, 2014, 2:09 GMT

    Nick Compton needs to be brought back !

  • Prem2248 on June 22, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    KSilva & Bell were out similar fashion though there were constrasting differences in commentaries:-1st Test, SL's 2nd innings {Jordan to Silva, OUT, length down the leg side, a touch to the keeper and there's a big appeal for caught behind, not out given but Eng are convinced and go straight for the review which is obvious that it came off the gloves and Silva is gone. His hands were well away from his body and we don't even need the mark on Hot Spot to confirm that is out, smart catch from Prior JK Silva c †Prior b Jordan 57 (172m 105b 7x4 0x6) SR: 54.28 )}--2nd Test England's 1st innings{Eranga to Bell, OUT, length ball down the leg side, Bell flicks at and gets a touch to the keeper desperately unlucky really, a poor ball drifting down leg, Bell looked to touch it away but got a thin nick to Chandimal, solid catch to his left, and up went the finger. No dream century for Bell in his 100th Test - not in this innings anyway :IR Bell c †Chandimal b Eranga 64 (90b 8x4 0x6) SR: 71.11 }

  • on June 21, 2014, 23:59 GMT

    Don't take this Srilankan team lightly Game is wide open and is up for grabs. It is any ones game from here on. I was thinking at one point that England would steam rool Srilanka but the Game has changed dramatically if Srilanka can get the remaining England wickets . It would be a fascinating test match to watch. Who says only 20/20 IS interesting . The true cricket comes out from a Test Match

  • dunger.bob on June 21, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    This match is setting up nicely. At this stage it definitely looks as though there'll be a result and it's tipping towards England. SL aren't out of it yet though. They have to mop up Englands tail quickly and keep that lead as small as possible if they are to come back in this game. .. 60/40 England's way at this point.

  • MH19 on June 21, 2014, 23:31 GMT

    Sri Lanka can now win the test from here and Rangana Herath will be the real England destroyer in the 4th innings bring it on and let SL set a target of 350 will be so easy anything less Herath will bambooze england

  • on June 21, 2014, 22:47 GMT

    I'd rather not have Sam Robson in the team because, quite frankly, I think there are far better options, but I am very happy to see all the 'young' England players doing well. Root, Ballance and now Robson. The only one who needs some runs now is Moeen Ali, but I've been impressed with him enough to cut him a bit of slack for a while. Plunkett was also absolutely terrifying with the ball, and Jordan performed admirably. Sri Lanka are clearly weak in England, though (and I mean no offence by that). England will soon be tested for real.

  • on June 21, 2014, 22:41 GMT

    Sri Lanka certainly needed those late wickets to keep themselves in the game, and it's nicely poised considering that there's still 3 days to go. England have the potenial to get 150+ in front, and that would be a nice lead to have in this Test.

  • Sir_Francis on June 21, 2014, 21:38 GMT

    Bradman in his first test 1 + 18. Robson in his first test 1 + 19. Bradman in his 2nd test a ton. Robson in his 2nd test a ton. Bradman for the rest of his career !

  • on June 21, 2014, 19:58 GMT

    Australian born Englishman played so sweetly.

  • landl47 on June 21, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    Two games in the series, three England centuries and all by players under the age of 25. Even if Sri Lanka's is not the most penetrative attack, that's a very good omen for the future.

    Robson worked hard for his runs today, which is no bad thing. Test cricket should be hard work. He'll have gained a lot of confidence from those runs. Ballance already (in his third test) is beginning to look as though he belongs and Root, the youngest of the three, has always appeared to have what it takes, though like any young player he has his ups and downs.

    Moeen, on the other hand, doesn't really look the part with bat or ball. He needs to tighten up his technique when batting and his bowling is just ordinary. He may be the first of the new generation to be returned to the ranks.

    England needs at least a 100-run lead and would like it to be 150. Everyone except Anderson bats, so that's doable if they work hard in the morning.

  • pestonji on June 21, 2014, 19:52 GMT

    Modern Ali needs to be replaced by carberry. England's days of bits and pieces players should be over.

  • Herath-UK on June 21, 2014, 19:41 GMT

    Sri Lanka showed again its battling qualities which they have shown well in the year. The latest was how they won the ODI series having lost the first. If the lead is not going to be insurmountable, we can have a good game at hand. Batting positions should be looked into with Thrimanne coming after Chandimal

  • anupkeni on June 21, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    England 320 for 6 (Jordan 4*, Prior 3*) lead Sri Lanka 257 by 63 runs

  • rizwan1981 on June 21, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    Aussie boy Robson sores a 100 - In the previous match , Zimbabwean Ballance went to three figures - West Indian Jordan also did well in that game- This gives the English team an international flavour

  • on June 21, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Sam Robson will follow in Trott's footsteps as a batsman and likely Eng bubble will crush/squeeze him slowly like it did trott

  • jackthelad on June 21, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    There were hundreds to be taken for the asking on this track against this poor bowling side. Cook must be reviewing his own performance.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 21, 2014, 17:27 GMT

    Glimmer of hope at last for Sri Lanka... late flurry of wickets this evening and England self imploding here. Ali, what were you thinking...?

    I hope England don't bother with the old nightwatchman thing... Utterly pointless in my opinion. Hopefully Prior and Jordan can survive the remaining overs, and then come out swinging tomorrow with the tail and get a lead of over 100. Looking forward to England bowling again.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on June 21, 2014, 17:01 GMT

    Good to see new Aussie boy Robson shine @ big stage with 1st test 100.Albeit in a Eng shirt!Impressed with shot 'selection'.Though,it looks he's impressed not just in his shot making.This when you consider talents like Silk,Lynn cant make it to Aus 11!-:)

  • YorkshirePudding on June 21, 2014, 16:42 GMT

    Not wishing to read too much into the England innings here and in the previous test but it looks like there are some promising signs.

    Hopefully Cook will start to gain confidence in his opening partner as I really feel that's been part of the problem, Compton, Carberry and Root have been less than stable, which adds pressure to cook.

  • eggyroe on June 21, 2014, 15:54 GMT

    Well played Sam Robson on reaching your Test Match Maiden Century.Another pat on the back for the England Selector's by pulling a unusual selection from the hat.Another point I would like to raise is that when play is scheduled to start at 1600 BST after the Tea Interval why Sri Lanka decided that a close in fieldsman was missing the so called safety equipment,who knows how these players would have survived 40 years ago.Surely the umpires should step in and say you have had 20 minutes to sort yourselves out,you either field in that position without the protection or the fieldsman fields elsewhere.This is again short changing the paying public who have stumped up for 90 Overs of International Cricket not to watch well payed cricketer's standing around and producing nothing.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 21, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Congratulations Robson! Very well played. Executed great self-control today, not tempted to have a hook at any of the short stuff; instead flicking the runs and executing the odd pull & drive. Maiden ton.

    Hope Bell can play a little blinder on his 100th game. Great platform set now, and barring a ridiculous collapse of some sorts, England firmly in control here. Bit of cloud cover forecast over the next few days, but otherwise dry and warm. Should be another great, even contest between bat and ball. Skills, experience, and good form of the England seamers keeps England favourites for this game in my opinion, but need to get the big Sri Lankan guns out early and definitely not miss so many chances as first innings.

    Best not get too far ahead of myself here... England still batting first innings and although a huge lead not exactly crucial, just enough to create a bit of scoreboard pressure and take advantage of the great platform set by the top order today would be very satisfying.

  • Greatest_Game on June 21, 2014, 14:03 GMT

    Cook's dismal batting form continues. I'd wager that the "dressing room atmosphere" would improve if he could find the middle of the bat! 1 or 2 more innings like this & Cook's average will be down to that of Bell - the man Cook described as "one of, if not the best …" Is Cook quietly establishing the "new standard" for the "best" English batsmen? One he would fit?

    When cricinfo's commentary reports , at over 16.1, ""Heard SL players chanting 'Keep Cook on strike' in Sinhala," reports Daniel Alexande." you know that the opposition have more than scented blood in the water, & the shark bite is soon to come. It did, at over 18.1.

    Meanwhile rookie Robson, facing the same attack, found his feet & posted a fine 50. With Balance on 30, its clear that the demons are not in the pitch or the bowling, but in Cook's mind! And I had better stop at that - I might incur the wrath of the chef … like I'm an Aussie TV commentator ...

    cricinfo - 2nd submission. No contravention of posting guidelines

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 21, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    @Greatest_Game (post on June 21, 2014, 13:34 GMT): You can still play cautiously AND punish the bad balls as well. Pradeep not exactly bowling the best here, as signified by a 10-ball over.

    Still don't get it why Angelo Mathews doesn't bowl himself more here...

  • Greatest_Game on June 21, 2014, 13:34 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK observed that " Before the detractors come out in force, this is the correct way to play at Headingley; SR's less than 50 and run rates less than 3 are typical here …"

    Have to agree with you there. Solid play by Robson & Ballance has laid a decent foundation for Eng to build on. Can't ask for a more positive, & responsible approach.

    You might have to have a word in Ballance's ear - he passed 50 in style with two 4s. That, plus 2 singles & a double, totaled 12 runs for the over! Robson too - he just slapped a 4 in the following over, taking him to 70. This after lunch eagerness by these youngsters is … well … positively KP like!

  • on June 21, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    Lets not forget Sam & Gary ( & to a lesser extent Joe) are all still making their way in test cricket. All rookies really, so to be as far as they have gone already is pretty darn good in my opinion.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 21, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    Cautious, but steady approach from England this morning. Before the detractors come out in force, this is the correct way to play at Headingley; SR's less than 50 and run rates less than 3 are typical here because it's a tricky pitch to bat on. As Simon Hughes pointed out yesterday after Matt Priors fluffed attempt at a catch behind the sticks, one ball off a length can spring up at the batsman's throat, only for the next ball off near the same spot to smack into your shins. Not a pitch for attacking strokes.

    Rough period for Cook; unfortunately he just couldn't hang in there this morning. Good to see Robson progressing at least, and hopefully England can continue grinding on today and get a lead of some sorts.

  • on June 21, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    Better luck next time sri-lankans. https://www.facebook.com/cricketcrazzyy

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  • on June 21, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    Better luck next time sri-lankans. https://www.facebook.com/cricketcrazzyy

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 21, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    Cautious, but steady approach from England this morning. Before the detractors come out in force, this is the correct way to play at Headingley; SR's less than 50 and run rates less than 3 are typical here because it's a tricky pitch to bat on. As Simon Hughes pointed out yesterday after Matt Priors fluffed attempt at a catch behind the sticks, one ball off a length can spring up at the batsman's throat, only for the next ball off near the same spot to smack into your shins. Not a pitch for attacking strokes.

    Rough period for Cook; unfortunately he just couldn't hang in there this morning. Good to see Robson progressing at least, and hopefully England can continue grinding on today and get a lead of some sorts.

  • on June 21, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    Lets not forget Sam & Gary ( & to a lesser extent Joe) are all still making their way in test cricket. All rookies really, so to be as far as they have gone already is pretty darn good in my opinion.

  • Greatest_Game on June 21, 2014, 13:34 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK observed that " Before the detractors come out in force, this is the correct way to play at Headingley; SR's less than 50 and run rates less than 3 are typical here …"

    Have to agree with you there. Solid play by Robson & Ballance has laid a decent foundation for Eng to build on. Can't ask for a more positive, & responsible approach.

    You might have to have a word in Ballance's ear - he passed 50 in style with two 4s. That, plus 2 singles & a double, totaled 12 runs for the over! Robson too - he just slapped a 4 in the following over, taking him to 70. This after lunch eagerness by these youngsters is … well … positively KP like!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 21, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    @Greatest_Game (post on June 21, 2014, 13:34 GMT): You can still play cautiously AND punish the bad balls as well. Pradeep not exactly bowling the best here, as signified by a 10-ball over.

    Still don't get it why Angelo Mathews doesn't bowl himself more here...

  • Greatest_Game on June 21, 2014, 14:03 GMT

    Cook's dismal batting form continues. I'd wager that the "dressing room atmosphere" would improve if he could find the middle of the bat! 1 or 2 more innings like this & Cook's average will be down to that of Bell - the man Cook described as "one of, if not the best …" Is Cook quietly establishing the "new standard" for the "best" English batsmen? One he would fit?

    When cricinfo's commentary reports , at over 16.1, ""Heard SL players chanting 'Keep Cook on strike' in Sinhala," reports Daniel Alexande." you know that the opposition have more than scented blood in the water, & the shark bite is soon to come. It did, at over 18.1.

    Meanwhile rookie Robson, facing the same attack, found his feet & posted a fine 50. With Balance on 30, its clear that the demons are not in the pitch or the bowling, but in Cook's mind! And I had better stop at that - I might incur the wrath of the chef … like I'm an Aussie TV commentator ...

    cricinfo - 2nd submission. No contravention of posting guidelines

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 21, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Congratulations Robson! Very well played. Executed great self-control today, not tempted to have a hook at any of the short stuff; instead flicking the runs and executing the odd pull & drive. Maiden ton.

    Hope Bell can play a little blinder on his 100th game. Great platform set now, and barring a ridiculous collapse of some sorts, England firmly in control here. Bit of cloud cover forecast over the next few days, but otherwise dry and warm. Should be another great, even contest between bat and ball. Skills, experience, and good form of the England seamers keeps England favourites for this game in my opinion, but need to get the big Sri Lankan guns out early and definitely not miss so many chances as first innings.

    Best not get too far ahead of myself here... England still batting first innings and although a huge lead not exactly crucial, just enough to create a bit of scoreboard pressure and take advantage of the great platform set by the top order today would be very satisfying.

  • eggyroe on June 21, 2014, 15:54 GMT

    Well played Sam Robson on reaching your Test Match Maiden Century.Another pat on the back for the England Selector's by pulling a unusual selection from the hat.Another point I would like to raise is that when play is scheduled to start at 1600 BST after the Tea Interval why Sri Lanka decided that a close in fieldsman was missing the so called safety equipment,who knows how these players would have survived 40 years ago.Surely the umpires should step in and say you have had 20 minutes to sort yourselves out,you either field in that position without the protection or the fieldsman fields elsewhere.This is again short changing the paying public who have stumped up for 90 Overs of International Cricket not to watch well payed cricketer's standing around and producing nothing.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 21, 2014, 16:42 GMT

    Not wishing to read too much into the England innings here and in the previous test but it looks like there are some promising signs.

    Hopefully Cook will start to gain confidence in his opening partner as I really feel that's been part of the problem, Compton, Carberry and Root have been less than stable, which adds pressure to cook.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on June 21, 2014, 17:01 GMT

    Good to see new Aussie boy Robson shine @ big stage with 1st test 100.Albeit in a Eng shirt!Impressed with shot 'selection'.Though,it looks he's impressed not just in his shot making.This when you consider talents like Silk,Lynn cant make it to Aus 11!-:)