OVER 16: SL 43/3 (Mathews 9 Chandimal 10)
Leach returns with two slips to the right-handers. Chandimal flicks two through midwicket and plays a handsome if measured square drive for a single. Leach is giving it every chance by tossing the ball up frequently but no sharp dip as yet.
OVER 15: SL 40/3 (Mathews 9 Chandimal 7)
Joe Root has gone all MS Dhoni, taking Leach off after his one-over spell and bringing back Bess for a second. Michael Atherton posits that Bess might have left the field at the end of his wicket-maiden which might explain it.
Chandimal slaps two in front of square off a Bess drag down and pulls a single off another short ball.
OVER 14: SL 37/3 (Mathews 9 Chandimal 4)
Wood for one more burst. Mathews defends the short ball anxiously but safely, getting on top to drop it into the infield, then tucks the next off his ribs for a single.
Wood hits the deck in his followthrough as he has Chandimal hopping around to defend until he gets away with a single popped round the corner. Every ball is 90mph plus but no reward as yet for his effort.
OVER 13: SL 35/3 (Mathews 8 Chandimal 3)
Bess, who began with a wicket-maiden, is relieved immediately and Jack Leach comes on. Bess, presumably, will come on for Wood after one more over. The first ball is short and Mathews slaps a cut for a single. Chandimal opens the face to push two through point. Big revolutions on the ball from over the wicket and that delivery seemed to bite in the pitch a touch.
Leach comes round and tosses it up. Chandimal pushes a single through cover, Mathews cuts for one more and Leach ends with a victory of sorts that spits and leaps past Chandimal’s edge. Costly but promising.
OVER 12: SL 30/3 (Mathews 6 Chandimal 0)
Mathews tucks two off his hip from Wood’s short ball. The commentators have been advising him to play the short ball on this pitch, which is dead enough to tame Wood.
Wood cranks it up to 91 mph and pitches up, straining for some swing and Mathews bunts it through cover. Lack of followthrough means it won’t reach the rope but they run three.
Despite the moribund pitch, Wood is steaming in, reaching 93mph and Chandimal lets it climb past his chest through to Buttler.
OVER 11: SL 25/3 (Mathews 1 Chandimal 0)
Sorry – came off the glove not the top edge. Wicket, a gift, for Bess with his second ball. He is giving it a rip and seems to bowling a couple of clicks quicker than last summer. Chandimal defends the last four deliveries. What a morning for England, and efficient too, given the paucity of deliveries.
Perera c Root b Bess 20 Caught at first slip on the reverse sweep off a top edge that floated down Root’s throat. Daft shot in this situation. FOW 25/3
OVER 10: SL 25/2 (Perera 20 Mathews 1)
Wood comes over the wicket to Mathews, pitches it up and Big Ange flicks it off his toes through Bairstow for a single, Perera drives to midwicket for a single.
Time for another delay when Wood breaks Mathews’ bat with a short ball that shatters the splice and jars his elbow. Mathews turns his back on the last delivery, a short ball, and wears it as he tried to avoid it. He doesn’t fancy the pull shot yet.
Fifty-five balls in the first 60 minutes’ play. No player to blame, only whoever set up the TV screen at one end.
OVER 9.1: SL 23/2 (Perera 19 Mathews 0)
Mark Wood, England’s sole World Cup-winner in this attack, comes on, round the wicket to Perera who turns a back of a length ball through deep backward square for a single. Root calls for the helmet and sticks Bairstow at short leg. Tit for tat … Mathews summons the chest pad and the umpires, mindful of tjis morning’s numerous delays so far, call for drinks.
OVER 9: SL 22/2 (Perera 18 Mathews 0)
Apologies for the lack of live photographs. Don’t know if there are any snappers out there but nothing has turned up from the agencies at this end so far. There are very few print journalists because it would be impossible to cover this series and India in biobubble conditions.
Mathews defends Broad stoutly. In this heat it should be Broad’s final over in this spell and Mathews seems him off with a couple of judicious leaves and blocks. He will have a breather now with figures of 5-2-14-2.
OVER 8: SL 22/2 (Perera 18 Mathews 0)
Touch of the Dasher Denning from Perera who thrashes a drive off the toe of the bat just over mid-off for two. He has a nibble at one angled across him but doesn’t hit it then plays his best shot of the morning, punching a checked cover drive for two.
Curran bangs one in and Perera rocks back to pull it for two more.
OVER 7: SL 16/2 (Perera 12 Mathews 0)
More sight screen delay. Root stations Bairstow on the drive, not quite a silly mid-off but hardly sensible either, about 15 yards from the bat. It’s only for Perera who whips a single off his pads first ball and the experiment ends for now as Bairstow is moved to leg gully for Thirimanne. Sensational decision by Broad and Root as it works after two balls.
In comes Mendis at three, on the back of three ducks in South Africa. Make that four eggs in a row. Vorsprung durch technik!
Clever bowling from Broad who rewards himself for the cutter with a big glug of the pink drink.
Mendis c Buttler b Broad 0 Nicks off pushing forward as Broad rolls his fingers across the seam. Two-ball duck. FOW 16/2
Thirimanne c Bairstow b Broad 4 Great catch at leg gully as Thirimanne pops it off the face round the corner and YJB takes it diving to his right, perfectly placed by bowler and captain. FOW 16/1
OVER 6: SL 15/0 (Thirimanne 4, Perera 11)
Curran tries a bouncer to Thirimanne which hardly gets up but the opener ducks anyway. Sound defence so far. No help through the air or off the pitch. Let’s see is if turns soon. Thirimanne defends the rest chastely. Maiden for Curran, his second in three overs.
OVER 5: SL 15/0 (Thirimanne 4, Perera 11)
Kusal is ticking and wants to get after Broad. Jammily he gets away with an ill-advised drive that he bails out of halfway through his swing, which saved him being caught at mid-off. Was he surprised by the bounce. Broad goes fuller but wider and Perera drills it through the covers for four. Nice shot from a bit of a pie.
Leach loses his bearings at deep fine leg, perhaps not seeing the ball until late, and gets nowhere near a catching opportunity he should have been under when Perera top-edges a pull. They run two and Broad drops to his haunches and flashes Leach a Medusa stare. England’s left-armer is turned to stone (which would arguably be more mobile),
OVER 4: SL 9/0 (Thirimanne 4, Perera 5)
There’s a problem with the screen at one end which will not at the moment flick back to white when England are bowling from that end. Finally they bring out a big white sheet and cover it, rather like the furniture in a stately home.
The fourth over finally starts 25 minutes into the day. Thirimanne chisels a full ball off an inside edge down to fine leg for two then gets some seam movement off the pitch to draw a false shot, Thirimanne shovelling it to mid-on. Curran is hiding the ball with his right hand as he runs in but there’s no swing as he plugs away with a fuller length and straight line. Thirimanne defends.
I omitted the last, apologies. Here’s our man, Nick, to redress that.
Another long delay because of sightscreen issues. This is exasperating. Three overs in 21 mins.
OVER 3: SL 7/0 (Thirimanne 2, Perera 5)
Thirimanne’s away, popping a single off the thigh pad, tapping it round the corner for a single. The newly affianced Broad has his Platoon headband on.
Ball-tracking confirms that Curran’s appeal would have been umpire’s call had England reviewed it. Perera whips a single off his ankles fine. They’re giving neither batsman any opportunity to free their arms so far and the line hasn’t brought the three slips into play. Thirimanne uses another ball on leg and middle to flick it fine for a single.
Spoke too soon. Kusal Perera does get one in the sixth-stump slot which is very floaty and he thumps it over mid-off for four.
OVER 2: SL 0/0 (Thirimanne 0, Perera 0)
Sam Curran will share the new ball. They’re taking their time already. The first over took seven minutes. Curran starts with a tight line from over the wicket to the left-handed Perera, who defends jerkily. The left-armer then angles one across the batsman’s pads. He has a nibble at it but doesn’t connect as Buttler takes it down the legside. Broad and Curran obviously fancy these two for a strangle … or they lost control of their line.
Perera defends a couple from back of a length to mid-on and straight then is struck on the pad going back. England appeal vociferously but don’t review when it’s turned down. Looked close but perhaps sliding down or umpire’s call. We wait for Hawk-Eye to confirm to us, not themm.
OVER 1: SL 0/0 (Thirimanne 0, Perera 0)
Stuart Board opens the bowling, coming round the wicket to the left-handed Thirimanne and sprays the first ball down the legside. The outfield is typically mottled and England are wearing black armbands in tribute to the late John Edrich and Robin Jackman. Long delay between the first and second deliveries, no explanation why.
Broad alters his line to middle and Thirimanne punches the ball to midwicket and sets off but is sent back, wisely as Mark Wood throws down the stumps. The opener defends the next couple. Broad is bowling a full length and looking for swing. Touch of jag, too.
Sri Lanka’s form
Tim Wigmore on the roots of a long decline: While England suffer from an unrelenting schedule, Sri Lanka in Test cricket have the opposite problem: too little cricket.
But they did beat New Zealand in their last Test at Galle, Dananjaya taking five wickets in the first innings, Embuldeniya four in the second in the six-wicket victory. In England’s favour, though, is the identity of their century-maker in that Test, Dimuth Karunaratne, who also scored a century at the Wanderers less than a fortnight ago.
is Johnny on the spot in Galle for Sky. Messrs Ward, Atherton, Hussain and Key are in Isleworth, Bumble is in his Dales redoubt – Darrowby, Hotton, somewhere like that.
Dan Lawrence makes his England debut
And will forever be No 697.
Sri Lanka Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Asitha Fernando.
England: Zak Crawley, Dom Sibley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (capt), Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, Jack Leach.
Three spinners for Sri Lanka, two for England.
And welcome to cricket, lovely cricket. It’s rainy, bleak and intermittently terrifying in London but in beautiful Galle, where the sky is sapphire blue, the field emerald green and the fort picture postcard perfect, the greatest game offers some relief.
First things first Sri Lanka’s captain, Dimuth Karunaratne has been hurt in practice and is on his way to hospital with a possible broken thumb., Dinesh Chandimal will be in charge.
The PA preview focuses on England captain Joe Root and his assessment that Dom Bess will prove he can be a leading man in Test cricket as well as a support act.
This Test in Sri Lanka will be Bess’ 11th Test appearance but his first on the sub-continent, where conditions typically allow for slow bowlers to take centre stage.
Bess has had to settle for a more low-key role for the majority of his international cricket thus far, failing to bowl an over in four of his 15 innings in the field and often being used to hold down an end for the seamers rather than attack in his own right.
But Root has not forgotten the 23-year-old’s career-best haul of five for 51, when he finally found helpful conditions against South Africa last winter, and is expecting him to shine again.
“We know Dom has the ability and skills if it does start spinning quite quickly to take advantage of that. It’s a really good opportunity for him to show what he can do in these conditions,” Root said.
“I think the fact that he’s experienced big spinning conditions already at home in Somerset colours will hold him in really good stead and he also had success in Port Elizabeth, where it did spin quite drastically.
“As someone right at the start of his career, he’s still learning that and that’s exciting to see that he’s had success already, and coming into these conditions where they might be slightly more in his favour, he could potentially really make a mark on this tour.”
England are also expecting a final briefing before taking the field to remind them of how much they should interact in the heat of the game, with footballers back home increasingly under the microscope for celebrating in close proximity despite the spread of coronavirus.
Elbow touches and fist bumps have been encouraged in cricket since the outbreak of the pandemic and Root suggested they would be attempting to show restraint again in the coming weeks.
“I’m sure the medical staff will make sure that the protocols are kept in place and that if there is anything that needs to be discussed before the game starts, then we are made very well aware of it,” he said.
“We’ll do as best we can to make sure we adhere to that.”