Driving and slow over rates. Something has to be done or test cricket will die!Colombo test day 2

Day 2 dawns bright and dry, sunny, hot and with high fluffy ‘Simpson’ clouds. The ground is dry, green and ready to play after the most spectacular of thunder and lightning storms last night. Words cannot describe the intensity of the rainfall or how flashes and bangs follow almost instantaneously during one of these storms. You really need to experience one…another for the bucket list?

Cloud formations are spectacular

England continue their ‘pack of cards’ approach but with some fine cover drives from Ali who perished caught in the deep for 33 as England fold for 336, Sandakan taking 5/95. This is a decent score overall but let’s see how SL fare.

The ‘Japanese buffalo’ as the little all purpose machines are known can be seen mowing the outfield (bottom left hand corner)

Lunch sees SL at 74/1 with both De Silva and Karunarathne on 28. Gunathilake fell for 18 dancing down the wicket to Leach only to mistime a hook into the hands of the waiting short leg. Presumably Jennings under the helmet but the one thing the massive scoreboard doesn’t show is the mode of dismissal for each batsman. The SL batsmen are not letting the spinners settle into any rhythm and are moving the score along nicely. The left/right combination is also helping.

One other aspect to the fore today has been driving – cover driving by England and a mix of straight and cover by SL.

It seems that there’s more sense of purpose today from both sides. Drinks interruptions are much fewer but then it’s not as ferociously hot. It’s still steaming and I feel like a turkey ready to come out of the Xmas oven but there’s a breeze building up which can take the edge off as well as aid or abet the bowlers, we shall see.

Tea is taken at 183/2 Karunarathne 81no Mendis 6 no. Gunsthilake went for 73 in a partnership of 140+ the best of the series. England toiled manfully but a chance put down by Root in the third Broad over after lunch looked costly and was proven to be so. With one session to go, SL could get close to England’s score this evening and if they can preserve a few wickets on the way, England could well be chasing 100 or so just to get back even. The restart after the break will be key. The weather looks set fine but we shall see. Bairstow had significant physio during the drinks break but made it back after tea.

There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow..but not for Sri Lankan batsmen!

It seems that my hope of fewer interruptions was false or premature- as the day progresses the running on for the odd drink, gloves, and so forth is getting annoying. I’ve come to watch cricket not other things!

In the 35 minutes since tea we’ve had five overs but three wickets have fallen and the wheels on the SL bus look like coming off as they slump from 170/1 to 205/5 in the blink of an eye. This is where they need to dig deep. The number of interruptions is getting close to yesterday’s.

The over rate is now in the region of 10 an hour and that’s with one spinner bowling. Wickets keep falling with Rashid doing the damage taking four of the seven to fall as SL slump to 222/7 with a nominal 22 overs left today. Dark clouds gather to one side of the ground (leeward to the wind) as the ground staff appear en masse as if they know something no one else does. What I forgot was my A level Geography in that clouds and storms in the tropics can bubble up from nowhere and don’t need wind to blow them in or away.

Just to slow things down…drinks are taken! This is exasperating and a slight to the paying public by both sides! I’m not happy!

Well…I got that cricket session completely wrong. A collapse of 9/67 in just about two hours play see SL all out for 240 in 65 overs, Rashid taking 5/49. There’s a nominal 16 overs tonight in 40 minutes but the clouds are bubbling up and I suspect we shall be all done and dusted within 30 mins.

Whilst an excellent team performance by England, an abject one by SL after the second wicket fell, the over rate and interruptions, ill-prepared batsmen (not wearing an arm guard but called for one on the way out), and general malaise means the game degenerates into exceptionally slow play. Customers will stay away…test cricket will wither on the vine and pass into oblivion whilst no one does anything about it!

England see out the final session with few alarms as bad light and the threat of lightning bring an early close to the day. Early in that it finished on time but with a nominal 12 overs not bowled. The average over rate all day including at least one spinner in operation is 12. Last seen when the WI were in their pomp in the 1980s. The lead is close to 100 with three days to play. I can’t see anything other than 3-0 win for England.

In other news, the lack of blue Wonder ice creams dampened the mood of our tour manager whilst overloading the lift at the end of the day also brought some light relief. The journey this morning was traffic free and driving a pleasure, but this evening was have hit rush hour.

Overall a pleasant day, good for England, good in parts and then very poor by SL, succulent and delicious driving on the field and a few calories less for those who missed their blue Wonders!

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