|Trott made old fashioned|
Sri Lanka prevailed over England by 75 runs but not before a fine century from Jonathan Trott and a feisty, shot filled 41 by Matt Prior. The pair came together after Bell was dismissed by technology. Coming so far forward that his back foot was out of the batting crease, he swept at Herath and was struck just above his front foot. Umpire Rod Tucker, widely regarded as the best in the world, immediately acted to remove him but Bell, with some justification, called for a review. The resultant decision is one of the reasons players are now starting to question the ball tracking technology. The computer animated tracking showed the ball landing on off and marginally hitting the top of off stump so Bell had to go. Had Tucker said not out and Mahela Jayawardene reviewed it, Bell would have stayed. There must be doubt about this decision, especially given the wobblies which ball tracking experiences when the distance between the ball pitch point and pad are so close.
At 4-152, England needed less than 200 hundred but Trott, although slow, looked comfortable. Prior, England's last recognised batsman, dropped the anchors and England limped to lunch at 4-177, adding only 66 runs in the session for the loss of Bell.
After lunch, the Englishmen started to pick off the bowling with regular singles and the occasional two, particularly Prior. The 200 milestone was greeted with sustained applause from the partisan English crowd, mostly sunburned tourists chowing down on post lunch ice creams and enjoying the hospitality of a former colonial outpost. The 50 partnership was raised and again the English supporters were expansive and their hosts, fewer in number, joined in politely. Around the ground and in the English dressing rooms, guts were starting to suggest something heads still could not agree with. The new ball arrived into Herath's hands but not much happened and he retreated, seemingly subdued for the time being. Prior's confidence stepped up a notch as he drove Suranga Lakmal for 4 through cover and in the next over from Chanaka Welegedera, pushed confidently off his legs for a boundary through mid wicket to conclude an over which yielded eight.
|Herath 12-171 and MOTM|
Trott's own defiance ended at the hands of off spinner Suraj Randiv when he turned an off break around the corner to Tillakaratne Dilshan who took an outstanding catch at leg slip. Trott may be of South African birth but he has earned his stripes as an Englishman and this was one of his finest innings.
Herath (6-97) and Randiv (4-74) achieved what was expected, the left armer taking twelve for the match and winning the Man of the Match award but it was the batting of Mahela Jayawardne on the first day that was the difference between the sides, constantly taking risks and backing his skills against an English attack which bowled very well without support. Sloppy fielding dropped Jayawardene three times.
For England, they must take the positives of a better approach to the spinners in the second innings to Colombo next week and find a way to score enough runs to win. Their bowlers can take the wickets they need but they must be given a reasonable chance, otherwise England will go home having lost five Tests from five in their winter of discontent away from home.
As it is, if world rankings were updated after each Test rather than each series, England would be drinking their sorrows tonight as No 2. A stay of execution perhaps. I don't like their chances of finding a way of avoiding disaster in Colombo, many of them convinced Asian snake charmers have seduced them.