England tour of Sri Lanka, 3rd Test: Sri Lanka v England at Galle, Dec 18-22, 2007
18,19,20,21,22 December 2007 (5-day match)
  • Overs 0-50

Vaas, with enough cream on his face to suggest he might be auditioning for a part in a horror film, to open the attack to Cook.

0.1

Vaas to Cook, no run, outside off, no shot

0.2

Vaas to Cook, no run, pretty much the same line and Cook again is not interested

0.3

Vaas to Cook, no run, that's the spot, seaming across Cook who pulls inside the line just in time

0.4

Vaas to Cook, no run, another one seams away from the left hander and Cook spars at the ball

Vaughan strolls down the pitch to have a quiet word.

0.5

Vaas to Cook, FOUR, forced off the back foot through the covers, well timed and the chasing fielder can't get close

0.6

Vaas to Cook, no run, half forward and played into the off side

End of over 1 (4 runs) England 4/0

    • AN Cook 4 (6b 1x4)
    • MP Vaughan 0 (0b)
    • WPUJC Vaas 1-0-4-0

Malinga marks out his run twice and does some stretches before he is ready to roll.

1.1

Malinga to Vaughan, no run, turned off his legs to short square leg, standing some 12 yards back

1.2

Malinga to Vaughan, no run, a foot or so outside off, Vaughan leaves

1.3

Malinga to Vaughan, 1 run, defensive push dropped into the off side, a quick single as the cover cordon close in

1.4

Malinga to Cook, no run, short and outside off, Cook leaves

1.5

Malinga to Cook, no run, Cook again shoulders arms

1.6

Malinga to Cook, no run, outside off and Cook happy to leave anything on that line

End of over 2 (1 run) England 5/0

    • AN Cook 4 (9b 1x4)
    • MP Vaughan 1 (3b)
    • SL Malinga 1-0-1-0
    • WPUJC Vaas 1-0-4-0
2.1

Vaas to Vaughan, OUT, oh dear ... he shoulders arms to one that comes back from outside off, it thuds into his pads and the umpire will never have an easier decision that that to make ... Vaughan was back on his stumps and it was always hitting

MP Vaughan lbw b Vaas 1 (9m 4b 0x4 0x6) SR: 25.00

A really poor shot decision from Vaughan. Twice Vaas jagged the ball away from the left hander in the last over, and yet he left one outside his off stump and was stuffed as that cut back into him.

2.2

Vaas to Bell, no run, more movement off the seam, heading down the leg side as it hits Bell on the pad

2.3

Vaas to Bell, no run, shorter and slanted across Bell, it holds its line and he leaves

2.4

Vaas to Bell, no run, beats Bell as he drives on the walk, once more undone by big movement into him, the slips all go up but Vaas not interested

2.5

Vaas to Bell, 1 no ball, short, Bell shapes to hook but misses

2.5

Vaas to Bell, (no ball) 1 run, turned past shortish square leg

Another no-ball from Vaas.

2.5

Vaas to Cook, 1 run, Cook turns the ball to deep square leg

2.6

Vaas to Bell, no run, swinging down leg side

End of over 3 (4 runs) England 9/1

    • IR Bell 1 (6b)
    • AN Cook 5 (10b 1x4)
    • WPUJC Vaas 2-0-8-1
    • SL Malinga 1-0-1-0
3.1

Malinga to Cook, no run, checked drive to Muralitharan at extra cover

And we have a , presumably damned hot, ninja turtle in the stands.

3.2

Malinga to Cook, no run, into line, all very correct, defended

3.3

Malinga to Cook, OUT, pushed to cover, Cook starts off for a single, checks, Bell turns and dives for the non-striker's crease but Dilshan's throw is flat and true. Daryl Harper calls for the replay ...it's tight and Gnasher calls it as out ... and he's right, he's a foot short even though he was at full stretch and on his stomach as he lunged for safety

IR Bell run out 1 (8m 6b 0x4 0x6) SR: 16.66

Cook seemed to be at fault ... he started, Bell responded and was then left high and dry as Cook checked and turned his back.

3.4

Malinga to Cook, 4 byes, whoa ... short, it bounces over Cook and carries on up and way over the keeper

3.5

Malinga to Cook, no run, another snorter at 89mph, taken by Jayawardene on the rise

3.6

Malinga to Cook, no run, defended off the back foot square on the off side, Dilshan hurtles in but this time Cook is going nowhere

End of over 4 (4 runs, wicket maiden) England 13/2

    • AN Cook 5 (16b 1x4)
    • KP Pietersen 0 (0b)
    • SL Malinga 2-1-1-0
    • WPUJC Vaas 2-0-8-1
4.1

Vaas to Pietersen, no run, outside off, left alone

4.2

Vaas to Pietersen, no run, he shimmies to the off and blocks

4.3

Vaas to Pietersen, no run, not sure what happened there as Gnasher arrived at the wrong time with a plate of fresh muffins ... anyhow, no alarms and no runs

4.4

Vaas to Pietersen, no run, pushed firmly into the overs

4.5

Vaas to Pietersen, no run, Pietersen shuffling in his crease, as he always does, and pushed to Muralitharan at mid-off

4.6

Vaas to Pietersen, no run, short, Pietersen drops to his knees and lets it pass

And an elephant on the back of an open-backed track passes the ground ... makes a change from pigeons and buses.

End of over 5 (maiden) England 13/2

    • KP Pietersen 0 (6b)
    • AN Cook 5 (16b 1x4)
    • WPUJC Vaas 3-1-8-1
    • SL Malinga 2-1-1-0
5.1

Malinga to Cook, no run, left alone

5.2

Malinga to Cook, FOUR, short, Cook smacks that through square leg, well played, he rolled his wrists and Tharanga's dive was always going to be futile

5.3

Malinga to Cook, no run, very wide, Cook sniffily watches it pass

5.4

Malinga to Cook, FOUR, prodded from away from his body, controlled, between third slip and gully and there's no third man

Malinga gives Cook a filthy stare, but Cook's not looking.

5.5

Malinga to Cook, no run, poked into the leg side

5.6

Malinga to Cook, no run, straighter and Cook well forward

End of over 6 (8 runs) England 21/2

    • AN Cook 13 (22b 3x4)
    • KP Pietersen 0 (6b)
    • SL Malinga 3-1-9-0
    • WPUJC Vaas 3-1-8-1
6.1

Vaas to Pietersen, 1 run, pushed into the off side, Welegedara picks up but KP is off the mark

6.2

Vaas to Cook, no run, two feet outside off, leaving him, no shot

6.3

Vaas to Cook, no run, back and into line, pushed into the off side

6.4

Vaas to Cook, no run, too wide and left

6.5

Vaas to Cook, no run, Cook undone by the swing, turned square and he gets a leading edge as he pushes to leg, the ball falls a foot or so short of Silva at third slip

6.6

Vaas to Cook, OUT, seaming away from Cook, fractionally short, Cook follows it and gets a thin edge, Vaas screams an appeal and it's only going one way

AN Cook c †HAPW Jayawardene b Vaas 13 (33m 27b 3x4 0x6) SR: 48.14

Cook departs shaking his head but that was out ... frustration more than dissent. There is something inevitable about this start after England's performance in the field. They looked jaded and it's carried on when they have batted.

End of over 7 (1 run) England 22/3

    • KP Pietersen 1 (7b)
    • WPUJC Vaas 4-1-9-2
    • SL Malinga 3-1-9-0

"It's going to be over in four days," sequels Gnasher with all the glee of a six-year-old on Christmas morning.

7.1

Malinga to Pietersen, no run, short down the leg side, Pietersen swings and misses

7.2

Malinga to Pietersen, no run, short and Pietersen drops his hands as the ball fizzes past his chest

7.3

Malinga to Pietersen, OUT, what a peach ... a snorter than cuts back from short of a length, Pietersen jerks back in a bid to get out of the line, off his feet, and Daryl Harper decides that it flicked his glove on the way through. That was as close to unplayable as you can get.

KP Pietersen c †HAPW Jayawardene b Malinga 1 (17m 10b 0x4 0x6) SR: 10.00

England have one chance. Rain. In comes Ravi Bopara who has split webbing on his hand as if things weren't bad enough.

7.4

Malinga to Bopara, no run, short, he ducks under another bouncer

7.5

Malinga to Bopara, no run, he's getting a bit excited, fired short down the leg side

Jayawardene runs up to have a word with his quickie.

7.6

Malinga to Bopara, 1 no ball, short, Bopara into line to defend, noticeably jerking his hand off the bat as he played it

7.6

Malinga to Bopara, 1 no ball, short, Bopara ducks

Two no-balls and I suspect those might have been tactical ... this is the last over before the break and why miss a chance to rough up the new boy?

7.6

Malinga to Bopara, no run, slower and easily dealt with by Bopara shuffling across his stumps

Lunch Sri Lanka just about edged an extended session ... only the four England wickets before lunch, the same number England had managed in the previous four sessions. A real captain's knock from Mahela Jayawardene was followed by some super seam bowling from Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga. England are four down and Muttiah Muralitharan hasn't even started warming up. Join us after lunch to see if England can continue to implode.

End of over 8 (2 runs) England 24/4

    • RS Bopara 0 (5b)
    • PD Collingwood 0 (0b)
    • SL Malinga 4-1-11-1
    • WPUJC Vaas 4-1-9-2

Here come the players under blue skies, with a few cumulus scattered. I've no idea if they're cumulus, but I only know two types of clouds, the others being cirrus and they're definitely not cirrus. Right, Vaas is opening after lunch.

Welcome back. Will here, ready to take you through the next session - which should be just enough time for Sri Lanka to take the final 16 wickets. Splendid action all morning and hopefully we'll have even more excitement for you in just a few moments.

8.1

Vaas to Collingwood, 1 run, on his legs, he nudges it to leg and takes a single

There are some terrific dancers on the boundary with some impressively hectic moves. Get down, or something appropriate. Sadly they're actually causing a hold-up in play - though not sure quite why.

8.2

Vaas to Bopara, no run, bending back into the right hander who comes forward to punch this to mid-off

8.3

Vaas to Bopara, OUT, terrible stroke from Bopara who came forward, trying to whip it to leg on the walk but could only chip it straight to mid-on

RS Bopara c Welegedara b Vaas 0 (7m 7b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

Awful, horrid stroke to an innocuous delivery. Here's Prior, and England are facing humiliation here. This is village

8.4

Vaas to Prior, no run, fuller this time from Vaas and Prior turns his first ball to a deepish short-leg along the turf

It's hard to know what to say about Bopara's dismissal. The bat twisted in his hand as he looped it to mid-on

8.5

Vaas to Prior, no run, outside off and Prior wisely leaves it alone

8.6

Vaas to Prior, no run, again Prior shoulders arms to end a superb first over for Sri Lanka after lunch

End of over 9 (1 run) England 25/5

    • MJ Prior 0 (3b)
    • PD Collingwood 1 (1b)
    • WPUJC Vaas 5-1-10-3
    • SL Malinga 4-1-11-1

Lasith Malinga to continue the destruction. Three slips and a gully

9.1

Malinga to Collingwood, no run, too short and left alone outside off

"England are batting in binary," exclaims Andrew.

9.2

Malinga to Collingwood, no run, Collingwood plays this quite solidly, nobbling it off the back foot

9.3

Malinga to Collingwood, no run, stroked out to cover

9.4

Malinga to Collingwood, FOUR, dispatched by Collingwood with a beautiful punch, timing it smartly in front of cover. Solidly played

Watch out - here comes the rain. The groundsmen are lurking with the covers

9.5

Malinga to Collingwood, no run, another bouncer, left alone

9.6

Malinga to Collingwood, no run, another bouncer but it's ineffective really - he needs to pitch it up and test the batsman's defensive technique rather than their evasive capabilities

End of over 10 (4 runs) England 29/5

    • PD Collingwood 5 (7b 1x4)
    • MJ Prior 0 (3b)
    • SL Malinga 5-1-15-1
    • WPUJC Vaas 5-1-10-3

Odd weather today. It's bright enough, but drizzling rain - nothing more than a spatter

10.1

Vaas to Prior, no run, Prior defends this solidly off the back foot

10.2

Vaas to Prior, FOUR, a very fine drive - that's a quality drive from Prior, timing it beautifully back past the bowler for four

10.3

Vaas to Prior, OUT, he's bowled him! Prior was stuck on the back foot and, although it kept low and swung back a touch, he really ought to have come forward to that one. An excellent delivery on the perfect line and England sink ever further

MJ Prior b Vaas 4 (8m 6b 1x4 0x6) SR: 66.66

England are 33 for 6. Thirty three for six. It beggars belief, quite honestly. Right, here's Sidebottom

10.4

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, and immediately he's beaten by a beautiful away swinger

10.5

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, firmly behind it this time by Sidebottom to one which holds its line

10.6

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, an excellent delivery again from Vaas on Sidebottom's off stump, with a hint of swing away from the left-handed Sidebottom who, to his credit, is solid in defence

End of over 11 (4 runs) England 33/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 0 (3b)
    • PD Collingwood 5 (7b 1x4)
    • WPUJC Vaas 6-1-14-4
    • SL Malinga 5-1-15-1

Here's Lasith

11.1

Malinga to Collingwood, no run, better length than his last over and Collingwood's firmly blocking this out

11.2

Malinga to Collingwood, FOUR, excellent shot, cracked off the back foot and with terrific timing. Collingwood's going down fighting (as ever)

Three slips and a gully

11.3

Malinga to Collingwood, no run, securely defended on the front foot

11.4

Malinga to Collingwood, 2 runs, on his legs and Collingwood sweetly times this off his legs through midwicket. It holds up a bit on the outfield which isn't as slick as it looks, and they pick up three

Collingwood's in double figures! That definitely deserves an exclamation mark

11.5

Malinga to Collingwood, 2 runs, on the off stump, Collingwood pushes it through mid-on for a couple

11.6

Malinga to Collingwood, no run, a bouncer, easily evaded by Collingwood

End of over 12 (8 runs) England 41/6

    • PD Collingwood 13 (13b 2x4)
    • RJ Sidebottom 0 (3b)
    • SL Malinga 6-1-23-1
    • WPUJC Vaas 6-1-14-4
12.1

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, turned with a flick of the wrists off his legs

12.2

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, ooh a slower ball but Sidebottom plays it cautiously and rather well, too, back to the bowler

12.3

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, he pulls inside the line to this one outside his off stump

Gnasher notes Monty can be seen in the dressing room practising his cut stroke. Oh dear.

12.4

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, played out to gully off the back foot

Ah, it's a delicious feeling really. England back to their 1990s worst. It's like a familiar blanket of doom

12.5

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, half a shout from the slips and the keeper to one which raps him on the pads, but it's sliding down the leg side. Vaas wasn't really interested; just a polite, one-handed inquriy

12.6

Vaas to Sidebottom, 1 no ball, Sidebottom plays this no-ball to mid-on

12.6

Vaas to Sidebottom, FOUR, edged past second slip down to third man for four

And that equals England's 46 against the West Indies in 1993-94, a day which I remember all too vividly.

End of over 13 (5 runs) England 46/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 4 (10b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 13 (13b 2x4)
    • WPUJC Vaas 7-1-19-4
    • SL Malinga 6-1-23-1

Chanaka Welegedara is into the attack for his first bowl in Tests

13.1

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, good start, swinging this into Collingwood - very full, too, but he squeezes it out to mid-off

Not a bad position in which to come on for your first ever bowl in Test cricket, is it? England 46 for 6

13.2

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, full, on middle stump and he drives to mid-on

His full name is Uda Walawwe Mahim Bandaralage Chanaka Asanka Welegedara. Poor old Murali - he doesn't have a single middle name.

13.3

Welegedara to Collingwood, 1 run, stroked out to cover

13.4

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, and he plays and misses to a good, quick delivery outside the off stump. Not quite sure where Sidebottom was trying to play that, perhaps over the slips

13.5

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, Sidebottom's firmly forward, blocking this out

13.6

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, too wide of the off stump and Sidebottom can leave it alone with ease

End of over 14 (1 run) England 47/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 4 (13b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 14 (16b 2x4)
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 1-0-1-0
    • WPUJC Vaas 7-1-19-4

I can't stop thinking of the roast potatoes, bread sauce and mountains of turkey I shall be enjoying in a week's time. I could do with a mighty turkey sandwich right now actually

14.1

Vaas to Collingwood, no run, swinging back into Collingwood who comes confidently forward to defend

Two slips and a gully

14.2

Vaas to Collingwood, no run, this again bends back into Collingwood who blocks it out solidly

Now then. Two have bent back to Collingwood - time for the one which holds its line?

14.3

Vaas to Collingwood, FOUR, oh blimey where's this gone? This does hold its line as Collingwood tries to turn it to leg but gets an outside edge which squirts out to cover

14.4

Vaas to Collingwood, 1 no ball, a bouncer this time which he ducks beneath

14.4

Vaas to Collingwood, no run, another bouncer which is left alone. Jayawardene (of glove fame) takes it face height

14.5

Vaas to Collingwood, no run, and he leaves this wider delivery outside off

14.6

Vaas to Collingwood, no run, wider of the off stump, Collingwood comfortably punches it to mid-off

End of over 15 (5 runs) England 52/6

    • PD Collingwood 18 (23b 3x4)
    • RJ Sidebottom 4 (13b 1x4)
    • WPUJC Vaas 8-1-24-4
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 1-0-1-0

Just a reminder: England have passed their fifty.

15.1

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, Sidebottom remains bolted to the crease and reaches out for this slightly wider delivery. That was classic tailend defence, though quite assuredly played in the end

15.2

Welegedara to Sidebottom, 3 runs, driven on the up with a heavy bottom hand out past mid-off. Malinga sprints after it and, with the weird highlights in his hair, it almost looks as though he's ablaze. Fortunately he is not, although metaphorically he and Sri Lanka are on fire

15.3

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, defended off the back foot

15.4

Welegedara to Collingwood, FOUR, top shot, Collingwood. Banged for four straight back past the bowler for four. Collingwood's making it all look rather easy

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the kiss of death

15.5

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, rapped on the pads but Harper is unmoved. Too high and going over the off stump

15.6

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, that's well bowled, angling this across Collingwood who clumps it out to cover

End of over 16 (7 runs) England 59/6

    • PD Collingwood 22 (27b 4x4)
    • RJ Sidebottom 7 (15b 1x4)
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 2-0-8-0
    • WPUJC Vaas 8-1-24-4
16.1

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, on his legs and he defends

16.2

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, poor ball down the leg side. Sidebottom sets off for a single without realising it takes two to run...and Collingwood tells him to get back in his box

16.3

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, an inside edge onto his pad

16.4

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, a waste of a bouncer down the leg side

I say bouncer. It didn't bounce.

16.5

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, good line on off stump and Sidebottom stands up straight to defend

16.6

Vaas to Sidebottom, no run, and it's firmly blocked out to end the over

End of over 17 (maiden) England 59/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 7 (21b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 22 (27b 4x4)
    • WPUJC Vaas 9-2-24-4
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 2-0-8-0

Now then, this will be messy. Muttiah Muralitharan is into the attack

17.1

Muralitharan to Collingwood, 1 run, quick, straight delivery on his legs which is pumped to mid-on

17.2

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, Sidebottom pokes forward to defend

17.3

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, tossed up, a little slower, on middle-and-leg and Sidebottom comes forward to block it out. And does so very well, too

17.4

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, again, smothered with the class of a No. 4

17.5

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, left alone outside off. Excellent judgement from Sidebottom

17.6

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, floated wider and it's blocked out

End of over 18 (1 run) England 60/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 7 (26b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 23 (28b 4x4)
    • M Muralitharan 1-0-1-0
    • WPUJC Vaas 9-2-24-4

Welegedara's on from the other end, so he's getting a decent long spell here

18.1

Welegedara to Collingwood, 1 no ball, beaten! A rapid delivery outside off which Collingwood tries to push out to cover and misses. Good pace, excellent line

Good start this by Welegedara

18.1

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, left alone outside off

18.2

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, a little too wide to trouble Collingwood who isn't lured into driving this wider ball

Looks like a morgue in the England balcony

18.3

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, that looks mighty close as Collingwood is almost cleaned up by a full delivery, but it pitched outside leg and drifted further down the leg side

Very well bowled though

18.4

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, solidly blocked out

18.5

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, on off stump and angling across Collingwood who can shoulder arms easily

18.6

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run

End of over 19 (1 run) England 61/6

    • PD Collingwood 23 (35b 4x4)
    • RJ Sidebottom 7 (26b 1x4)
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 3-0-9-0
    • M Muralitharan 1-0-1-0

Good morning to those waking up in the UK. Scrooge has come early this year: it's 61 for 6. Make yourself a cup of tea, or perhaps something a little stronger, and stick with us for this recall to the 1990s. Feels great, doesn't it?

19.1

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, wide of the off stump and spinning wider still

19.2

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, forward comes Sidebottom, but is beaten

19.3

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, beaten! A cracker outside off and Jayawardene takes it smartly

19.4

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, and Sidebottom gets bat on this on the of stump

19.5

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, the doosra which raps him on the pad, on the leg stump

19.6

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, tossed up outside the off stump, smothered by Sidebottom

End of over 20 (maiden) England 61/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 7 (32b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 23 (35b 4x4)
    • M Muralitharan 2-1-1-0
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 3-0-9-0
20.1

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, excellent delivery swinging into Collingwood who blocks it out

20.2

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, firmly punched out to cover

The groundstaff are on the boundary edge with their hands on the covers, eager to sprint on

20.3

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, beaten! That's a beauty from Welegedara who cuts this away from Collingwood

I like this Welegedara. Good, solid action and nippy off the pitch

20.4

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, and he cuts this back into the right hander this time. Collingwood inside edges it into his pad

20.5

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, a shorter delivery, punched out to cover

It's getting darker I'm afraid and the rain is imminent.

20.6

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, Collingwood lets this swing down the leg side

End of over 21 (maiden) England 61/6

    • PD Collingwood 23 (41b 4x4)
    • RJ Sidebottom 7 (32b 1x4)
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 4-1-9-0
    • M Muralitharan 2-1-1-0

4.30pm The players are now out in the middle, except the two batsmen who are heading onto the field rather like toddlers about to plunge into the deep end ... very tentative, very scared.

4.25pm "How about giving Cook a small stool to sit on when fielding at short leg/silly point?" suggests Dimuthu Ratnayake. "The chap just doesnt seem to be able to crouch down 'long enough to take a catch." Ouch. Dave Cresswell adds: "The England batsman should get a fairy godmother for Christmas as they keep missing the ball!" Boom boom. "A new compass for Harmy," suggests Paul Edwards.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankans have been passing time by playing bowls on the outfield. All very surreal.

4.15pm We're now told it's 15 minutes before we are ready to resume. The light is good but the pitch isn't ready and the umpires are chatting with Mahela Jayawardene who clearly wants to get on with things. It looks to the naked eye that water has spilt off the covers and has soaked one area of the outfield. The delay is pedantic and Jayawardene is not a happy chap.

Why not tell us what you think players should get for Christmas ... Prior could do with some velcro gloves for starters ...

4.10pm 207 covers have been removed and we're down to the last four.

Steven writes to tell us he is sitting in a boring lesson at school reading the BBB commentary ... I wish there'd been computers when I was a schoolboy. I wish there'd been electricity.

3.40pm Covers are being swiftly removed, and Andrew reckons things could be starting again in about 45 minutes, which might leave an hours play before the light goes. Or before England completely capitulate.

3.30pm There is movement at the ground, at it isn't just Andrew heading for the dinner table. The covers are being removed so it looks as though, if the rain stays away, we could get some more action.

3.25pm The latest from Andrew Miller: "It's all a bit slow. There's just enough rain around to hamper the mopping-up operation, but the groundstaff are sweeping the covers and the sun is temporarily out. There's still a prospect of play." So that's promising, I think

3.15pm There appeared to be some action from the ground staff a few moments ago, but no official word yet on the state of play. There is a lot of water on the covers, and light will also start becoming a factor soon.

2.45pm The 50-odd groundsmen are standing in the puddles on the covers, debating whether to take them off or not. It's stopped, or has nearly stopped, but is still looking pretty moist out there. Unemployment in Galle has been cut to zero," emails Pete Hobbs. "Judging by the swarms of groundsmen littering the outfield everyone without a job has been signed up to pull covers on and off."

2.15pm "Well, well. It's eased up a bit. A lot, in fact," says Miller. "Still spitting, but those clouds have moved over quickly. Much brighter over to the east now, but there's a lot of standing water on the covers." It does appear they're going to begin removing the tyres, holding down those massive covers, but we're still a long way off from starting again...and that's if it doesn't bucket down again.

2.00pm It's not looking at all good out there. "Just been up onto the roof," Andrew tell us. "It's wet. And relentless, I fear. There's a thick block of clouds on the eastern horizon, and they are all rolling this way." Of course, we'll keep you abreast of any developments...but it's looking more Grimsby than Galle I'm afraid.

1.50pm Andrew tells us the wind is getting up, which we hope is a meteorological reference rather than anything else. Not yet raining, merely spitting - in fact, scrap that. As I write, the rain is now thundering down and some massive tyres are rolled onto the covers which puts paid to any cricket for the foreseeable future.

1.40pm And here come the olive-coloured covers, dragged on by about 30 enthusiastic groundstaff. It's not yet raining, but they anticipate it's about to thunder down. Rauf and Harper, the two umpires, are out in the middle still (and almost trampled upon by the groundstaff), peering up at the sky. Well, it'll give England a rest and a break to assess things.

21.1

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, short and Sidebottom sways out of the line as the ball passes him at navel height

21.2

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, oh yes, what a brute, aimed at Sidebottom's throat and he does well to keep that out and to avoid it smacking him in the face. His helmet almost came off as he jerked his head back

21.3

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, short but a tad wider and Sidebottom is able to leave it

21.4

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, and again, too short and Sidebottom ducks once more as the ball fizzes past

Daryl Harper enjoying this so much he's not going to bother to say anything to the bowler ... four short

21.5

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, and five in five as another one rips past Sidebottom's bonce

21.6

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, and six in six, he ducks and still in the mind of Daryl Harper that's fine and dandy. And credit to Malinga, if the umpire's not going to intervene then he will carry on

Malinga would be better off bowling to occasional shock pitched-up ball. But you suspect he smells blood.

End of over 22 (maiden) England 61/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 7 (38b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 23 (41b 4x4)
    • SL Malinga 7-2-23-1
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 4-1-9-0
22.1

Welegedara to Collingwood, (no ball) 1 run, flicked off his hips ... and that leaves Sidebottom to face five

22.1

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, outside off, Sidebottom pulls his bat out orf the way just about in time and the ball dies on the keeper and he parries it on the half volley

22.2

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, faster and that's through Sidebottom who misses by some way ... he would have done even without the awayswing

22.3

Welegedara to Sidebottom, 2 runs, steered past gully who makes a fairly weak attempt to stop it and third man has to mop up

22.4

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, half forward, turned a few yards towards midwicket

22.5

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, no discernible foot movement, pushed into the off side

Sidebottom won't be keen for a single here!

22.6

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, wide, he's more than happy to leave and stay down the blunt end for Malinga's next over

End of over 23 (4 runs) England 65/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 9 (44b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 24 (42b 4x4)
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 5-1-13-0
    • SL Malinga 7-2-23-1
23.1

Malinga to Collingwood, 1 run, hip-high, flicked to deep square leg who ambles in from the deep ... Sidebottom won't be too happy with that

23.2

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, on off stump, steered to third slip ...but his feet were set in stone as he played that

Malinga should bowl the yorker ...

23.3

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, down the leg side and left alone

23.4

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, fractionally short, pushed confidently into the covers

23.5

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, speared down the leg side, it keeps low and Jayawardene tumbles to his right and stops well if not neatly

23.6

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, that was all wrong, fired wide across Sidebottom who is not tested

Malinga and his skipper won't be happy with that ...Sidebottom was not really troubled by anything there.

End of over 24 (1 run) England 66/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 9 (49b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 25 (43b 4x4)
    • SL Malinga 8-2-24-1
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 5-1-13-0
24.1

Welegedara to Collingwood, no run, an ungainly defensive shot, he falls over as he digs a yorker'length ball to leg

24.2

Welegedara to Collingwood, 1 run, push-prod into the covers and a quick single

Collingwood is showing great faith in his colleague, as well he might. Sidebottom's batting this series has been really solid.

24.3

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, played with an open face to backward point

24.4

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, a hint of a step forward as the bowler reaches his delivery stride but he settles for a defensive poke back down the pitch

24.5

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, wide outside off, left

24.6

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, jags back off the seam into Sidebottom, an appeal from the keeper but not from the bowler who knows that it cut back too far

End of over 25 (1 run) England 67/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 9 (53b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 26 (45b 4x4)
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 6-1-14-0
    • SL Malinga 8-2-24-1
25.1

Malinga to Collingwood, 1 run, short and turned to long leg

Collingwood has faced four balls since the restart, Sidebottom the rest.

Malinga round the wicket to the left hander

25.2

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, dug in but way to short and Sidebottom barely needs to duck, Jayawardene has some way to go as that was arcing down the leg side

And he switches to over the wicket after one ball.

25.3

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, super ball, beats Sidebottom outside the off stump

25.4

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, too wide outside the off stump

25.5

Malinga to Sidebottom, no run, even wider, Jayawardene takes in front of first slip

25.6

Malinga to Sidebottom, 1 run, dropped into the leg side, Sidebottom starts, stops and then starts again as Collingwood responds to the call

And now it's Sidebottom pinching the strike rather than Collingwood giving it to him.

End of over 26 (2 runs) England 69/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 10 (58b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 27 (46b 4x4)
    • SL Malinga 9-2-26-1
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 6-1-14-0

England can console themselves that they aren't doing as badly as Zimbabwe, who are 62 for 8 against a South Africa Composite XI at Paarl. Not much of a consolation, though.

26.1

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, full, pushed into the off side

26.2

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, back and into line, everything behind the ball

26.3

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, two feet outside off, no shot

26.4

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, a much better angle, outside off, Sidebottom had to play, he pushes at the ball away from his body and it purrs past the edge

26.5

Welegedara to Sidebottom, no run, fuller and on off stump, pushed easily to mid-on

26.6

Welegedara to Sidebottom, 1 run, checked drive uppishly to the left of the bowler, quite safe, mid-on trots back to field and he's pinched the strike again

Collingwood has faced four balls in the six overs since the restart.

End of over 27 (1 run) England 70/6

    • RJ Sidebottom 11 (64b 1x4)
    • PD Collingwood 27 (46b 4x4)
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 7-1-15-0
    • SL Malinga 9-2-26-1

And here's Muralitharan to add some spice to last few overs.

27.1

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, turning across Sidebottom who pushes to point

27.2

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, rips across the left handers and he leaves it

Slip, gully, leg slip and a short leg around the bat

27.3

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, a beauty, spins and bounces, that was too good for many better batsmen

27.4

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, outside leg, not a hint of spin and it carries on unmolested

27.5

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, no run, too full, he kills the spin by getting some way forward

27.6

Muralitharan to Sidebottom, OUT, and the doosra does for him, Sidebottom goes back and gets a thick edge into his pads and the ball loops to short leg, Daryl Harper nods as the appeal rasps round the ground and eventually lifts his finger to confirm his decision

RJ Sidebottom c Dilshan b Muralitharan 11 (72m 70b 1x4 0x6) SR: 15.71

Sidebottom heads off but once again he has shown some of his more capable team-mates how to keep one end up.

End of over 28 (wicket maiden) England 70/7

    • PD Collingwood 27 (46b 4x4)
    • M Muralitharan 3-2-1-1
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 7-1-15-0
28.1

Welegedara to Collingwood, 2 runs, whipped through a gap at midwicket, he runs two and is happy with that even though the return from Silva in the deep is dreadfully wayward

28.2

Welegedara to Collingwood, OUT, a peach. Collingwood plays back but down the wrong line, the ball finds a big gap between bat and pad and into his off stump

PD Collingwood b Welegedara 29 (95m 48b 4x4 0x6) SR: 60.41

And now the end is near (final curtains etc). But will England follow-on before the close. It's very possible. "England's goose is cooked," Andrew says, licking his lips. "An early Christmas dinner for them." And for him, too. The big man is 30 on Christmas Eve.

Hoggard reluctantly heads to the middle.

28.3

Welegedara to Hoggard, no run, a yorker thumps into his pads, a loud appeal but heading down the leg side

A sniff of inside edge as well. Good call.

28.4

Welegedara to Hoggard, no run, left alone as it slants across him

28.5

Welegedara to Hoggard, no run, yorker but wide off stump, Hoggard pokes at it and there's a very half-hearted enquiry more than an appeal from behind the wicket

28.6

Welegedara to Hoggard, OUT, another one bites the dust, angled across Hoggard, he nibbles and Jayawardene takes a routine catch at second slip

MJ Hoggard c DPMD Jayawardene b Welegedara 0 (4m 4b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

This is dire/superb ... take your pick.

End of over 29 (2 runs) England 72/9

    • SJ Harmison 0 (0b)
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 8-1-17-2
    • M Muralitharan 3-2-1-1

Murali v the rabbits. No contest.

29.1

Muralitharan to Harmison, no run, a lunge and the ball takes him on the pad and loops to leg

29.2

Muralitharan to Harmison, 2 runs, no spin, pushed hard behind square on the off side, they come back for the second and Harmison just makes it back, saved by a good lunge. Had he hit, he was history.

The third umpire needs a replay or three to decide ... not sure why.

29.3

Muralitharan to Harmison, no run, tossed up, padded away off the front foot

Murali goes round the wicket.

29.4

Muralitharan to Harmison, 3 runs, that did for him, spinning towards the stumps but it takes a thick inside edge and beats the diving short fine leg

Three runs but a total moral victory to the bowler.

29.5

Muralitharan to Panesar, no run, too wide and flat, an easy back-foot defensive jab

29.6

Muralitharan to Panesar, no run, once more the sixth-ball doosra, Panesar picks it and steers into the on side

End of over 30 (5 runs) England 77/9

    • MS Panesar 0 (2b)
    • SJ Harmison 5 (4b)
    • M Muralitharan 4-2-6-1
    • UWMBCA Welegedara 8-1-17-2

This mini session has produced 3 for 16 in nine overs for the Sri Lankans. Vaas recalled ... Harmison takes his time to settle.

30.1

Vaas to Harmison, no run, pitched outside his leg stump, it moves back and takes him on the pad as he lurches forward

30.2

Vaas to Harmison, no run, outside off, left alone

30.3

Vaas to Harmison, FOUR, short and at Vaas's speed even Harmison can go for the pull, he gets right over it and the ball races away square for four

30.4

Vaas to Harmison, no run, wide and full, Harmison drives but gets nowhere near it, mainly because his feet were planted like mature oaks

30.5

Vaas to Harmison, OUT, and a fittingly shambolic end to the innings. Harmison clipped into the leg side, set off, Panesar stood his ground and only set off when he realised that Harmison was not turning back. The throw from Welegedara was poor, Jayawardene leapt high and wide to acrobatically gather and shied at the one stump he could see and hit with Panesar still lumbering for safety. Good work from the keeper ...

MS Panesar run out 0 (9m 2b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

And oddly the Sri Lankan openers sprinted off as if they were preparing to bat again ... but it's a bluff and we are told that the follow-on has been enforced.

Panesar has a get-rich-quick DVD out at the moment in which he mocks "hilarious" cricket cock-ups. That should be a late addition.

Full credit to some tight bowling from Sri Lanka, they've put the ball in the right place and let the batsmen do the rest. Frankly, England's batting has been pathetic and the whole performance was summed up by that Keystone Cops ending.

In theory we have 13 overs remaining but we are unlikely to get more than two or three as the light starts to fade.

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Hours of play (local time) 09.30 start, Lunch 12.00-12.40, Tea 14.40-15.00, Close 17.00

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