In a nightmare flashback to the UAE, England’s bowlers did a fantastic job either side of an utterly inept batting performance in which the mere prospect of spin caused mass panic.
Rangana Herath is many things. A stocky, slow left armer (and you know how much we love them) he certainly is. But Saeed Ajmal he is not.
In the UAE England’s batsmen were utterly bamboozled by some high class spin bowling. While Herath bowled tidily, that definitely wasn’t the case here. There was a bit of turn in the pitch but nothing much more than that, yet England looked utterly terrified, like us that time the off-licence had run out of gin. Ian Bell got a good delivery but the rest of the batsman should hang their heads in shame. It’s almost as if they wanted to prove that what happened in the UAE wasn’t a fluke, by repeating all the same mistakes again.
Indeed, the relative ease with which the likes of Broad, Swann, Anderson and even Monty bloody Panesar bashed the ball around just emphasised that there really were no demons in the pitch. England’s strong evening session came from bowling tight lines and building pressure, rather than any truly magical deliveries.
Over the last two and a bit years, Jonathan Trott has been the definition of unflappable. Apart from England’s tour of South Africa, where he seemed to briefly go a bit mad. And yet today he conjured up one of the most absurd dismissals you could ever see. After losing Alastair Cook early (LBW to a good delivery from Lakmal – these things happen) England had rebuilt in postive fashion, reaching 40 in just ten overs. And then Trott went mental in a way we haven’t seen since Mariah Carey stepped out with her new handbag, waltzing down the pitch and waving the bat at a Herath full toss like, well, Mariah Carey showing off her new handbag. He inevitably missed the ball by several feet and was stumped.
The coup de grâce came as Trott desperately tried to recover his ground only to be almost knocked out by Prasanna Jayawardene’s celebration. After a quick shot of gin, Trott was eventually able to recover; the same can’t be said of England’s batting
Mahela Jayawardene’s astonishing innings will almost certainly prove the difference between the two sides; despite an excellent evening session, in which Graeme Swann bowled particularly well, England are still well behind the game. With their current batting malaise chasing anything above zero would be a challenge, so a score in excess of 250 should be far too many, regardless of Monty Panesar’s new found classical approach to hitting the spinners around. On the plus side, those England fans who paid a (relative) fortune for the fourth day will probably get their money back.