England’s test tour of Sri Lanka recently concluded, with the series drawn 1-1. Whilst the result for Sri Lanka is a good one, a shared series with the No.1 test side, the cricket itself probably showed the difference in overall talent and ability between the sides.
England finally produced a complete performance in Colombo to win the second test and level the series, something they will be ruing not doing at Galle. If they had batted with similar application at Galle in the first innings a series win could have been theirs for the taking. Instead, a frenetic but uncontrolled innings resulted in being bowled out for 193 in less than 50 overs. The English bowlers were exceptional throughout in unfamiliar and draining conditions. In particular I thought Jimmy Anderson was outstanding, swinging the new and old ball at pace and constantly asking questions of the Sri Lankan batsmen.
For Sri Lanka, it was much the case of old and experienced hands doing the business. Mahela Jayawardene made a welcome return to form in the test arena following his good one day form in Australia at the top of the order with two brilliant hundreds and a fighting 64 in the second innings at Colombo. Rangana Herath produced a match winning performance with the ball at Galle, taking twelve wickets. Tillakaratne Dilshan was electric as ever in the field, supported now by an equally lively Lahiru Thirimanne at short leg. Other than a few spirited knocks from the middle and lower order, there was little else to write home about. Kumar Sangakkara had a rare poor series. For all Thirimanne’s agility in the field, he looked out of his depth as an opening batsman in test cricket. Suraj Randiv made very little impact in the key role of second spinner, and looked a shadow of the bowler who took on the likes of Sehwag, Dravid and Tendulkar two years ago. Nevertheless, results breed confidence and self-belief, and the Galle win was very significant for the team going forward.
As many people mentioned before the series, it is a great shame that three tests were not accommodated. A potentially absorbing decider would have provided a fitting climax.