Day 1 at Kandy

First of all a confession. I wasn’t able to watch much of today’s play because I had a symposium at work. Therefore the following report is a mixture of second hand opinions and guesswork. However, I don’t think it takes a genius to work out what happened. Perhaps I should’ve just cut and paste my review of day 1 at Galle?

When England were 134-5 I assumed we were playing exactly the same test match. The top order failed yet again – I don’t know why we even bother having one to be honest – and it took the middle-lower order, and a cameo from Jos Buttler, to get us out of the all too familiar hole.

The only real difference was that Jennings was the opener dismissed quickly this time – that’s normally what happens when you present him to a seamer – whereas Burns managed to hang around and score a half-century. Obviously I have no idea how young Rory batted but according to George Dobell he looked quite assured. So it was one in the eye for those who wanted to drop him after a solitary game.

Jos Buttler also played well again by all reports. Apparently he borrowed Jennings’s broom and played the sweep shot (or the reverse sweep) liberally. Or perhaps I should say constantly. Duncan Fletcher would’ve been brimming with pride. He loved a good sweep – especially in Asia.

The real star however, and it really shouldn’t be a surprise anymore, was young Sam Curran. I’m beginning to think that ‘young’ is his first name as it seems obligatory to mention his knee-high-to-a-grasshopperness every time he’s mentioned. His 64 was absolutely crucial. And once again he looked like the best left-hander in the XI.

If the selectors are looking for someone to bat 3 they could do worse than look in Young Sam’s direction. This might sound rather premature to Surrey supporters, and it probably is rather premature, but the more I see the more I like. He looks organised and has a gut feel for knowing when to play the big shot. The latter gives him a big advantage over the other so called ‘batsmen’.

Most observers seem to think that England’s 285 all out should prove to be a decent score, especially as Sri Lanka are already one wicket down. However, here’s a second-hand word of caution. Kandy is a bit unusual in that the scores tend to increase as the match goes on. So the average fourth innings score is normally much higher than the average first innings score.

Or so I’m told.

James Morgan


  • Playing straight seems to be alien to this side.. sweeping and playing across the line after a few dots .. pitch literally offering very little so 285 is being made out to be good.. only reason it’ll be fine is the sheer crap ness of SL

  • My problem is I stopped believing in it once the captain failed to bring the field up to stop the single something so rudimentary that even a stand in captain can’t explain it away. Never mind all the fielders hanging out by the boundary.
    Sri Lanka bowlers not only went off the boil the fielders were diving over every ball. It reminded me of Pakistan in the bad old days.
    Oh dear. It’s that moment when you are just not sure they can be that bad. That’s what the current enquiry into systemic corruption does to how we perceive inexplicable fall in standards.
    In the end it’s the loss of certainty which is so easily exploited because cricket is an easy game to lose by a spell of bad fielding and bad captaincy.

    Worryingly it seems to be a pattern.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I was deeply unsettled watching every single being gifted to Sam Curran exactly when he needed it. I had exactly the same feeling of unease when watching Pakistan seemingly pretending to field way back when.

      It upsets me to harbour these doubts but it’s difficult to believe that an international side could be so inept in their bowling and field placing.

  • Perhaps Jennings’s dismissal will riule him out of playing against proper seam attacks? We can only hope!

    It seems a resort to desperation to suggest, that, because he has batted with some flair, Curran should go to 3 – no higher than 6, please. However, having watched Root’s innings, it is less obvious thtat he should be 3 (or even 4). Can we bring Trott back out of retiremnet?

    I withhold any further comment until we see how Sri Lanka progress…

  • Can someone tell me why Denley is not batting no 3? He bats 3 for Kent, and I fail to see why he is not in the squad. Not sure the point of trying uncle tom cobbly and all at 3. Neither Stoakes, Butler, Moen or Curran are no 3’s, effectively the reserve opener when Jennings is out in the 4th over. Who next, Anderson perhaps, at leasthe sticks around! Why do England keep doing this?
    Ok we will win this because Sri Lanka are no better than a county second 11, but it papers over the gaping cracks and does not plan for the future.

  • 4th innings scores in Kandy? Yeah, they might be higher, mostly due to an excellent chase by Pakistan (387/3). Otherwise no score of over 200 has been registered there (just 7 Tests though – only 3 of which saw an actual 4th innings chase).

    In the last three years, Sri Lanka once managed to post 117 in the first innings against Australia and still won. The stats comprehensively suggest that batting in the third innings is easiest (4 scores over 300, 3 of which were easily over 300), and one score of 181.

  • I actually think the Stokes experiment had promise – he just got caught on the crease for his wicket. Playing back to spinners is a legitimate technique but he got caught half cock. He plays well off the back foot so don’t think it’s a big fault.

    What they have to do is stick with it now and give him a proper go to see if he can make it or bring in Bairstow or promote Root again.

  • Mmm. Very few posts on this Test. Do I detect a strong lack of interest on this series, if you call it that?

    • Well, it was pretty boring until the umpires had a psychotic episode! 5 penalty runs for deliberately trying to steal a run when the Sri Lankan bat had time to ground his bat, read Lord Boycott’s autobiography (which adds 2 hours of sleep time) and run another couple of runs? If that is deliberate (as required by the laws to merit the penalty) then I am prepared to admit that Mr Ed is the second coming of the Messiah rather than the reincarnation of a talking horse.

      • Yeah, and remember, the umpires and match referee saw it not fit to award any penalty to Australia for bringing sandpaper on the field. Or even blatantly lying to the standing umpires.

        What is next? Penalty runs for falsely claiming a catch? Sometimes a fielder can’t know whether they have taken it cleanly or not (especially with low catches). Penalty runs for not claiming a catch? Penalty runs for a deliberate misfield (to get a tailender on strike for instance)? Penalty time for wasting time, to reduce the overs a chasing team has to face in order to save a Test?

  • 43 Tests in SL this decade. Number of times the team that won the toss and batted first lost: seven.


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