Sri Lanka Board XI v England XI, Colombo, 3rd day March 17, 2012

Anderson takes seven in innings win

ESPNcricinfo staff

England XI 303-8 declared (Cook 163*, Bandara 3-58) beat Sri Lanka Board XI 169 (Anderson 4-19, Panesar 5-37) and 119 (Anderson 3-21, Finn 3-24, Swann 3-33) by an innings and 15 runs

England still harbour doubts about their batsmen as they approach the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, but their bowling attack has quickly found the groove. The England attack was largely blameless during a 3-0 defeat against Pakistan and they could not have made better use of the first warm-up match, dismissing a Board President's XI for 119 on the final day to force victory by an innings and 15 runs.

James Anderson took three more wickets to finish with 7 for 40 in the match and there were also three apiece for his fellow fast bowler, Steve Finn, and the offspinner Graeme Swann. With Monty Panesar also among the wickets in the first innings, England only need Stuart Broad to prove his fitness in the final practice match to reach Galle in good heart.

Anderson said the intensity with which his team played the practice match will serve the tourists well. "I thought it was a pretty good three days for us with both bat and ball," he said. "We could not have asked for more. There are sterner challenges ahead but all we can do is play what is put in front of us. We know full well it is going to get harder throughout the tour with the heat and the opposition."

The only downside was that their victory was so swift it prevented any of their out-of-form batsmen, primarily Ian Bell, from spending more time at the crease. They had declared on 303 for 8 overnight, a lead of 134, their authority established largely through Alastair Cook's unbeaten 163.

Sri Lanka cricket will be unnerved by the extent of the defeat. They selected a young side, but only two of the top seven reached double figures second time around.

It took England only three balls to strike when Ashen Silva, who top-scored with 66 in the first innings, carved the third ball of the innings, from Anderson, to point. Finn also struck with the new ball when Bhanuka Rajapaksa, an attacking left-hand batsman who impressed in the 2010 Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, edged an attempted drive to Swann at second slip. One unexpected blemish in England's display came from Anderson, whose reliability at slip is taken for granted, but who dropped three chances off the spinners in the match. Dimuth Karunaratne benefited from a let-off, a difficult chance, but after he raised the fifty he was bowled by Swann for 31.

Prasanna Jayawardene, with 43 Tests to his name as well as a Test hundred against England, was the most recognisable opponent to the England attack, but he made only two runs in the match, falling for a duck second time around when Finn had him caught at second slip with the first ball of his second spell. Five wickets fell by lunch as Swann had Sachithra Serasinghe caught at short leg.

England's progression through Sri Lanka's lower order during the afternoon was marked by several moments of ill temper. Swann's frustration showed through when Panesar made a comically inept attempt to catch Dilruwan Perera off Swann.

England fielders then reacted angrily when the captain, Andrew Strauss, claimed a catch off Anderson, but Perera refused to take his word for it and stood his ground. The umpires conferred before Ravindra Wimalasiri, the umpire at square leg, indicated that he had not seen whether the ball had carried or not so could not confirm the catch. Perera was surrounded by half-a-dozen England players, protesting that in the absence of technology the captain's word should have been accepted.

The refusal of a run-out appeal against Malinga Bandara moments later further inflamed tensions, but it merely delayed the victory.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 20, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    @Britpop - Fair play you answer my arguments well even if I still believe 5/1/5 is the way for this Eng side to go. I will though say that that Australian batting line up could have scored runs against most bowling attacks and losing 3-0 to Pakistan is worse that losing 5-0 to that Australian side. I have (in recent times)wanted them to play a 5/1/5.I like that balance and I think it gives you more cover for various things.Also because we have far greater depth in our bowling than we do in batting and I believe that whoever we pick as our 5th bowler will do a better job than whoever we picked as our 6th batsman.I still believe that Finn or Bres or CT (whoever was not in the side vs India) would have done more with the ball than Morgan/Bopara with the bat even in our 4-0 win. PS Think NZ is a bad yardstick as SA were always expected to win comfortably whichever side NZ picked

  • Phil on March 20, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    @JG2704: even after all your posts about 5/1/5, I'm still not sure if you favour it generally, or simply because our middle order is out of form and you think the bowlers are more in form.

  • John on March 20, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    @jmcilhinney ctd Ive put instances where our 4 bowlers did not break through in UAE and the 5th bowler might have made the difference.Also if a 5/1/5 was right for beating a decent Oz in 05 why could it not be right now?This is also a series where we need to win to preserve our ranking and SL's batting is on paper harder to break through than Pakistan's.So if our batsmen score a heap of runs (and let's not forget that these might not be the type of UK wkts where we can build good scores at 4/5 an over and therefore quicker)our 4 bowlers may have a struggle to bowl them out twice.A lot of ifs,buts and maybes but I would be more confident of Finn or Bres contributing in the W column than all the mentioned batsmen in the runs colums.If these are batting wickets we may struggle to bowl them out twice with 4 bowlers.We could still win if losing a batsman means lower scores for us by bowling SL out cheaper but we can't win if we score big and we can't bowl them out twice.

  • John on March 20, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on Understand your views but how long do we wait for our lower middle batsmen to come good and how many matches must we fail in until this happens? Had the rain not intervened in NZ/SA 1st test the likelihood would be that we're knocked off the top at the end of that series. If we wait long enough , yes these guys will score runs , but if we lose our number 1 ranking in the mean time because of these failings then what's the point ? Bell has had 10 inns plus one 12 not out and his highest score was 29. Bopara and Patel didn't play but in these short series can we afford time for batsmen to find their form?

  • Phil on March 20, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    @JG2704: Let me answer your point about batsmen 4-6 explicitly. I, personally, would not have dropped Pietersen or Bell as I believe they are good test players. Morgan is my concern and maybe I would have replaced him, but with another batsman. As @jcmilhinney says, I believe you're trying to solve a problem England doesn't have - 4 bowlers is doing the job. You go back to one series (seven years ago) in 2005 to prove 5/1/5 is good. I believe that only worked because Flintoff played like a proper batsman in that series. You overlook the 2006/7 Ashes that we lost 5-0 with 5/1/5. Does any other test team play 5/1/5 at the moment? Ah NZ do which means Vettori at 6 - not working too well for them.

  • Roo on March 20, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    @JG2704... Agree on Broad - you don't muck around with your best asset... Prior (@44.24) should be batting at no.6 & is wasted at no.7... Cannot see why Broad/Bresnan can't bat at no.7 as an allrounder with the rest considered bowlers...

  • John on March 20, 2012, 2:22 GMT

    @JG2704, personally I'm not against 5 bowlers but it does seem to be trying to solve a problem we don't have. Surely what we want to happen is for the batsmen to start scoring runs. That may happen gradually so it would be a real shame to drop the one who was about to come good. Adding a fifth bowler may be an insurance policy against one bowler going down or having a bad game but if the first four perform, as they have been, then the fifth bowler is a fifth wheel, except maybe to keep all bowlers fresher for the next game. It just seems to me that dropping a batsman is an admission that they won't succeed and there's noone else who will either. I don't think that that's an admission that England will or should make.

  • John on March 19, 2012, 22:53 GMT

    @Britpop - I have asked you and other Eng fans to name a time when anyone from numbers 4-6 in that series made a contribution worthy of fully justifying his place and no one has and yet I have given several examples of where a 5th bowler might have made a difference. If the 5th bowler had played and had made a difference then he would not have been a luxury player. I'd say having 3 batsmen whoes Agreed - if our batsmen did their job ... but they didn't and what happened , we get whitewashed. There are two ways of looking at how to win matches. 1 - you score more runs than the opponents 2 - you bowl the opposition out cheaper. As I put before , when we ended the Australian stranglehold over us in 2005 it was done with a 5/1/5 formation. To me that is a better series result than any in the last 20 years and if that was right to beat a decent Aus side why would a 5/1/5 not be right now? PS No just one batsman for 1 bowler. I use batsmen 4-6 because I did not want to single out Morgan.

  • Sharon on March 19, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    @RandyOZ you truely have NO CLUE. Bell = easily England best batsman V South Africa in South Africa. If you know nothing best not to come here to display it. "journeyman" LOL LOL LOL LOL.... Talent is "thin" when someone like Ponting is still playing for Aus... a walking wicket in the last Ashes series he captained, and the one before, ha ha ha! Aus have no-one near the quality of Ian Bell - and you know it.

  • G on March 19, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    "Bell , these days excels against modest bowling attacks like Australia and India." = is that why he was our best batsman on the South Africa tour? Against Steyn and Morkel?

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