England v Sri Lanka at Cardiff 1st Test Review

By Zaheer Haque

The Home International series was eagerly anticipated after England’s magnificent ashes win down under first time after 24 years.

The First Test of the Series took place in Cardiff in front of crowds numbering hundreds not thousands which was a huge disappointment and not a great advert for the game.

The ECB should seriously consider where they hold future tests and hold them where they will be guaranteed a huge turnout. This is essential for the interest and development of the game and increased revenue. 

The weather played a huge part in this Test Match as much of the match was lost to rain and looked as though when play started 3pm on Day Five that it would end in a draw. However Day Five play was not only shocking but also extraordinary considering the pitch was docile throughout the whole match heavily in favour of the batsmen.

Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat first which was quite a surprise to me as I would have bowled first with the moisture on the pitch and the overcast condition. Also it would have been ideal for them to bowl first with the type of line & length medium pace bowlers and two spinners.

The Sri Lanka openers made a very good start as England didn’t fully exploit the pitch and conditions and bowled too short at times. Also the selection of bowlers I felt were not right ones for this match firstly Broad wasn’t match fit and I would have not selected him for the first two tests. I would have asked him to play few more county matches to get fully match fit and to get rhythm back into his bowling.  Also I would have not played Tremlett in this match purely to do with the type of pitch as he is more a bang in bowler it was more conducive for a line and length bowler.

The solid start by openers in the first innings in which both made fifties wasn’t capitalised by their two world class players Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. They both fell cheaply and may have been the consequence of playing in the IPL and not playing in the warm up games which the openers benefited from.

The lower order made handy runs to get Sri Lanka to 400 largely thanks to great 112 by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
England Innings also started the same way as Sri Lanka with lack of penetration by any of the Sri Lanka bowlers. Strauss was out to a shot which was very uncharacteristic of him in the slips. Trott then joined Cook and it then became a run fest with both scoring magnificent 100’s. Cook was finally out for 133.Kevin Pietersen came in after a long partnership of 251 between Cook and Trott and was out very cheaply for 3 which was disappointing for all to see.

Trott carried on his long vigil and helped himself to a brilliant 203 before he was out.
England batted on till Ian bell also cashed in with a great 103 not out. England finally declared on 496-5dec a lead of 96.  England decided to declare although they could have batted on and on especially when they were down to three specialist bowlers.  Jimmy Anderson sustained an injury in the first innings which ruled him out to bowl in the 2nd innings and also whole of the Lords Test Match starting Friday 3rd June.

The two teams must have felt that the game will just become a complete stalemate with Srilanka batting out the overs whereas England using it as much needed bowling practice.
The events that followed in just under 25 overs of Sri Lanka 2nd innings wasn’t imaginable by both sides especially the way the pitch played out throughout the whole Test Match with not much in it for bowlers on either side. 

Sri Lanka capitulated in 24.4 overs all out for a mediocre 82 and scenes of utter disbelief by those playing and watching especially with England only having 3 bowlers. It was amazing as all three England Bowlers made the ball do the talking and bowled magnificently and was in complete contrast to their first innings efforts.

Sri Lanka's line up was heavily batting orientated and must be heavily scarred by their sudden loss of the match. It will be difficult for them to get back into the series with Lords and Rose Bowl more bowler friendly pitches than the one at Cardiff.
England will be full of so much confidence and they will surely take this into the remaining two test matches. 


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