Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test Day 4 – Drops

There was another downpour overnight, to the point where many people thought that overs would be lost, and yet again play started on time and was uninterrupted throughout. It seems genuinely remarkable that we’ve had four full days of play, given the weather in the area.

The day began with Sri Lanka’s openers still at the crease from the night before. They both made it through the initial spell of seam bowling from Anderson and Curran with no incidents before Moeen and Leach began. Moeen created the first clear chance of the innings, drawing an edge from Karunaratne to first slip, which the usually safe hands of Ben Stokes spilled.

Immediately after the first drinks break, Leach pinned Kaushal Silva in front of the stumps to take the first wicket. Moeen took a wicket soon after when Karunaratne attempted to loft the ball over the mid-off but instead hit it straight back to the bowler

The two spinners challenged both Sri Lankan batsmen, but it wasn’t until Stokes was brought in to bowl just before Lunch that England finally took another wicket. De Silva prodded at a ball just outside the off stump and edged it to Joe Root at slip.

Stokes continued bowling after Lunch with a great session of short-pitch bowling considering the slow pitch. With several edges, gloves and mis-hits falling safe, the best chance from the spell came when Mathews pulled the ball straight at Jimmy Anderson who was fielding at midwicket. In the first instance of catching karma, Stokes’ earlier drop was punished by the normally safe hands of Anderson instead not hanging on to the ball.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan batsmen continued to bat in a bizarrely aggressive fashion considering the benign conditions and their position in the game. In just the next over, Kusal Mendis sliced a lofted drive from Leach’s bowling to Moeen Ali at mid-off. In the over after that, Jimmy Anderson suffered his own catching karma as the typically flawless Foakes dropped an inside edge from an inswinger which fooled Chandimal. Inside edges are often the trickiest ones to catch for wicketkeepers, but Foakes did get his hand to it so it has to be regarded as a missed chance. The Sri Lankans didn’t show any inclination to punish England for these mistakes in the field though, and Leach bowled Chandimal a few overs later with a beautiful delivery which pitched on middle and hit the right-hander’s off stump.

This left Angelo Mathews and wicketkeeper Dickwella as the two remaining batsmen for Sri Lanka before the tail, and Moeen Ali dispatched both in his first two overs after the Tea break. First to go was Dickwella, who edged one to slip  where Stokes made no mistake this time. Mathews followed soon after being surprised when the ball spun and bounced, scooping the ball gently to Jos Buttler at mid-on.

With just tailenders remaining, the rest of the Sri Lanka innings felt like a slow crawl towards an inevitable defeat. Rashid was brought on to clean up the tail, which is usually a speciality of his, but was much looser and more frequently off-target than he was in the first innings. Moeen Ali continued at the other end and eventually drew another edge to Stokes at slip, this time from Dananjaya. Rashid took almost a mirror-image wicket soon after with Perera edging a loose drive to slip. Herath’s was the last wicket to fall, with an undignified run-out for the retiring Sri Lankan hero.

Whilst it is England’s first Test win at Galle, this might not be quite the achievement it first appears. For a start, they have only played there five times and lost just twice . Second, and perhaps this indicates Sri Lanka’s recent weakness, the last eight Tests at the ground have been won by the team which also won the toss.

More importantly for English fans, it’s the Test team’s first away win since October 2016 and only their fifth since the beginning of 2013. England are a long way from being even a competent side away from home, their top order being their most obvious flaw, but the bowling unit appears strong in these conditions and the lower order batting continues to rescue the team on a semi-regular basis. With just two games left to play, there’s reason to be hopeful that the tourists can win their first away Test series since South Africa in 2015/16.

England’s biggest problem going into the next week’s Test is perhaps that too many of today’s team performed well. Bairstow should be eligible for selection again after his football injury, but it’s difficult to see Bayliss and Root dropping Foakes after the debutant wicketkeeper was named Player Of The Match. There are also suggestions that the pitch at Kandy will be more conducive to pace bowling, but should they drop one of the spinners when they did so well as a unit in this game? It’s a dilemma for the management team, with no clear answers.

If you have anything to say about the game, the squad, or anything else that comes to mind, please comment below.


8 thoughts on “Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test Day 4 – Drops

  1. Andy H Nov 9, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Given the pitch at Kandy and the way the Rashid performed in the 2nd innings the only change I would make is Broad coming in for the spinner.


  2. Mark Nov 9, 2018 / 12:42 pm

    Of course the media is incapable of noticing that Cook retires, and his partner Jennings immediately scores 146. Could it be that the obsessive, stifling atmosphere that developed at the top of the order with endless partners in the later years of Cooks career has been lifted?

    Far to soon to tell, and you wouldn’t make any judgements based on this very poor Sri Lanka team, but you would think the media would ask the question. You just know that if Cook was still playing he would be given all the credit for Jennings innings.

    If Cook had been playing in this match Shinny toy and Agnew would be telling their poor, put upon listeners that Jennings was lucky to be playing with Cook, and what a role model he is…….blah, blah, blah…….for eternity.


  3. REDRUM106 Nov 9, 2018 / 12:42 pm

    Am I the only person getting bored silly with the obsession of the media with next year’s Ashes. Why does every aspect of England’s performance have to be viewed through the prism of that series? Jennings batted well but still hasn’t proved he can do it against pace, Moeen Ali is not a long term solution at No 3 etc.etc We know all this but can we please judge this game and the performances therein for what they represent now. Sri Lanka may be at a low ebb and have lost some world class players who haven’t been replaced but to win a game at Galle by dominating the game (apart from the first session) from start to finish is some achievement. Having Moeen at 3 meant we could play 3 spinners (hurrah!!), picking Ben Foakes was a masterstroke. The Ashes is important of course but the first test is 9 months away, the way some pundits go on you would think we were playing the Aussies next week. Anyway rant over, well done England – first time I’ve felt genuinely pleased at an England victory for some time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Nov 9, 2018 / 1:01 pm

      To be fair twas always like this. We have tended to judge ourselves against the Aussies first and foremost. Even when neither were the best team in the world.

      However, these days it has taken on a more important role as the Ashes is one of the few series that the ECB might make any money from.


    • Benny Nov 9, 2018 / 1:05 pm

      I’ll echo all of that


    • Zephirine Nov 9, 2018 / 2:55 pm

      I always feel it’s incredibly insulting to whoever we’re playing right now. They’re out there busting a gut to beat England and all the pundits can say is “Ah, but against Australia, when it really matters…”

      If I were a Sri Lankan/S African/Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/NZ/WI/Afghan/Zimbabwean or indeed Irish player, I would feel very tempted to say “Well, why don’t you just play Australia, then, if that’s all you care about, and the rest of us will play some Test matches against each other, with a bit of mutual respect.”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. quebecer Nov 9, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    Got to give it up for Keaton Jennings. What he showed most clearly was his mind set and approach. This is someone who really like responsibility, and is in no way afraid to step up and take that responsibility. Obviously, his mentality has been the main thing that has kept him on the England radar all these years, but it’s hard to argue with when you see it playing out as we did here.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he managed to couple that mentality with not looking so abject against pace with any kind of movement. Who knows? Maybe…


  5. Northern Light Nov 10, 2018 / 9:37 am

    It would also be nice if he hadn’t captained South Africa U19s back in the day…



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