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December 3, 2007
Ball of the day
There are no contenders bar Muttiah Muralitharan's record-breaking delivery to Paul Collingwood. His sense of theatre seemed to have deserted him at the start of play, when England fended him out of the attack with an hour-and-a-half of the most defiant accumulation imaginable. But four balls of his second spell were all that Murali required to eclipse Shane Warne's landmark of 708 victims, and plant a flag at the summit that may never be removed. It was a sizzling delivery as well - according to the man itself, he meant to tweak it one way, but turned it the other instead. No wonder Collingwood was confounded.
Over of the day
Sanath Jayasuriya's Test career hangs in the balance, if the speculation is to be believed, but if that is the case then he signed off in style with his best performance for more than three years. When James Anderson served him up six deliveries in the slot, he lambasted the lot of them, and momentarily transformed the contest into one of his favoured one-day internationals. He survived a screeching slash that burst through Ian Bell's hands at slip, but his other five shots were trademark brutality. Only once before in Tests has such treatment been meted out to every ball of an over - Chris Gayle did the same to Matthew Hoggard at The Oval in 2004.
Gesture of the day
It was an exit that brought to mind Mike Atherton's sheepish departure at The Oval in 2001. No-one knows for sure that this is his last game, but the way Jayasuriya shyly saluted his standing ovation was telling in the extreme. As he reached the rope, he was met with a pat on the shoulder and a semi-embrace by the incoming batsman, Kumar Sangakkara, before Sri Lanka's uber-fan, Percy Abeysekera, chaperoned him to the pavilion steps beneath a giant national flag. Watch this space, would appear to be the message.
Chant of the day
The Barmy Army aren't often drowned out by the home support, but this was no ordinary day. Murali's personal skiffle band were parked beneath the Old Trinitians' clubhouse and sang hosannahs to their king all day long, which meant the English contingent couldn't help but sound muted in comparison. But they did find their voice briefly - albeit in a less than complementary fashion - when their new batting hero, Ryan Sidebottom, popped down to field in front of them at fine leg. "He bats at No. 8 ..." was the polite half of the rhyme, as Sidebottom, to his credit, responded with a broad grin and a tap of applause.
Improbable innings of the day
Sidebottom's stickability turned out to be a sign of things to come for England, as the pitch went flat and the Sri Lankan batsmen piled on the runs in their second innings. But it was no less valuable for that. His career-best 31 was the dominant share of a 57-run stand for the seventh wicket with Collingwood, and helped to bely the crippling weakness of England's tail. No shot all innings was sweeter than his clip through midwicket off Murali, which was one of only four boundaries he conceded in a marathon 35 overs.
Misfield of the day
Despite his youthful athleticism, Alastair Cook is not renowned as England's best fielder - and he further dented his reputation with a klutzish - and painful - effort in the gully. Jayasuriya went for one of his favourite off-side clobbers off Anderson, and belted the ball firmly into the turf. The ball reared up at pace, only for Cook to stretch out his hand and deflect the ball straight into his cheek. It looked nasty for a moment, but he was grinning sheepishly by the time he was led from the field for a check-up by the physio.
Memento of the day
As if confirmation were needed that the current Murali-mania is not confined to his home town, Sri Lanka's media-manager provided it anyway shortly after the record had been broken. He passed through the press box handing out sets of commemorative stamps, 12 to a set, proclaiming their man as the new world-record holder. With all this fate-tempting going on, it's incredible that the Gods kept their interventions so low-key.
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