Day three in Galle dawns a little (!) cooler than yesterday but more overcast with a threat of rain later this morning and to last all day. But play starts on time in front of a slightly smaller crowd as the heat and excitement have clearly overcome some of the Brits.
After a locally inspired breakfast- woodapple juice and hootas – the scene was enhanced in the hotel with the start of a Kandyian style wedding, with groom, best man, pages, bridesmaids and bride all ready by 7.30am for the first photos and by 8am all changed into the next set of wedding outfits for the second photo shoot. This is normal practice I’m told! But it’s only day one!
The Barmy Army are surprisingly quiet so far (thankfully) as, in the main, they continue their protest about ticket prices; the prices for the best seats, or any seats really are closed to the immediate means of the local populous at 25,000 rupees per day – as a guide a Magnum ice cream costs the equivalent of 45p; my consumption of which has been entirely for economic research purposes! So the BA are residents of the Fort ramparts for a while as they protest at the differential pricing for England supporters! But some battalions have jumped ship and infiltrated the ground! May I suggest that they consider themselves extremely fortunate to be able to afford to make the trip!
To the cricket…England resume on 39/0 and progress initially like a small ship on calm waters until Burns tries for a sharp single and fails, the experiment of Ali at #3 has yet to produce results and Root fails to take root and so arrive at lunch on 111/3 a lead of 250 with Jennings showing some stickiness as he sails to his 50 – well deserved and forcing some words back down the throats of the odd critic/expert – I’m not quite sure which category I fit into – odd or expert. So lunch is reached with the ship intact, if only slightly off course.
Despite a long opening spell by Lakmal, Sri Lanka bowl 30 overs in the session and it was a joy to watch. Not least the appealing of the wicket keeper (Dickwella) who whilst short in stature crouches so low his eyes are lower than the bails but manages to spring like a jack in the box into a style of appealing not seen for many a year; how he doesn’t lose his balance is beyond me!
One poor aspect of the Sri Lanka team is their use of reviews…they have lost so many that they missed one which the umpire got wrong! I suppose you can appeal too much?
At tea the ship sails regally to a lead of 350 with England 212/4 and Jennings approaching his hundred on 98no, accompanied by Buttler; Stokes made a fine 80 but got himself out and blotted an extremely overcrowded copybook by displaying his frustration as he threw his kit down on the outfield to dry in a manner more akin to Harry Enfield’s teenage alter ego than an international sportsman of high renown. He should keep these frustrations behind the dressing team’s door. He needs guidance.
The debate over tea descended on the declaration figure, time left and weather forecasts which are increasingly unreliable. Over 400 should suffice but the pitch is not showing signs of deterioration but, if anything, getting better for batting. The Sri Lankan fielding and bowling was excellent – 32 overs in the session – but marred by evident time wasting in the last few minutes before the break. England could bat to the end of the day, but the perceived wisdom is for a period of hitting out after Jennings’ century and give Sri Lanka an awkward half hour or so…but we shall see.
In terms of adding a little local tinge…health and safety issues don’t seem to worry this school party as they jump over a large gap in the Fort ramparts!
England eventually declared with a lead of 461 with 20 mins or so left in the day after Jennings was out for 148. The thinking appeared to be muddled as Root still sent Curran in to bat but for one ball? Perhaps time of day (4.30pm) or the prospect of bad light against the quicks came into the thinking? Anyway, England used five bowlers for the seven overs they needed to bowl and Jimmy didn’t open the bowling (remember both those quiz fans!) as Sri Lanka reached 15/0 even with two openers who gave a good impression of never having met before, let alone played together! It’s England’s to win by tea time tomorrow- monsoon notwithstanding.
The day was topped by an evening session of stories and a Q and A with Mike Gatting and since he was a ballroom dancing medalist in his younger days, had he been asked to do Strictly was the question I posed? You needed to be there to hear the answer!
Finally I ask…what other sport can cover the topics of weddings, the economics of ice cream, the frustration of teenagers, time wasting, health and safety, critics eating humble pie, the issue of strategic timing, quiz questions and was he offered Strictly or not…all in the space of 6 hours?
And…does that appeal?