It was England versus Mahela Jayawardene on day one of the first Test in Sri Lanka. Having lost what looked to be a crucial toss, Strauss and his men faced a long hot day in the field. However, Anderson struck early, twice in two balls of his second over, to remove Thirimanne (3) and Sangakarra for a golden duck. Broad chipped in soon after to leave the home side reeling on 15 for 3.
Sri Lankan captain Jayawardene then took it upon himself to prove his decision at the toss the right one, anchoring his teams inning with his 168 not out, with Sri Lanka on 289 for 8 at stumps. It was a classy innings, his triple figures taking him past Sir Don Bradman in the tally of Test centuries, and joint eighth with Matthew Hayden on 30.
England were not without opportunity to end this fine innings however, Jayawardene was dropped four times throughout the day. England did well in the field for the majority of the day, with two run outs included amongst the wickets, but they let themselves down in the final session. Monty Panesar was notably the worst, dropping two potential catches off the bowling of Broad.
Monty’s poor performance in the field may not upset his fellow spinner Graeme Swann too much. For a while now Swann has been a shadow of the bowler he has proved he can be, and his previous performances will only keep him as first choice spinner in the team for so long. However, with Monty offering little with the bat and demonstrating butter fingers in the field, Swann’s all round performance will help his cause to remain top of the spinners pile.
Earlier in the day, Samit Patel was handed his first Test cap, having won the all rounder spot. His most likely competition was Ravi Bopara, but a side strain picked up in the first warm up match meant that Bopara will not be able to bowl on this tour. Patel’s skill with the ball, and ability to play spin with the bat – something severely lacking in the England line up in their last Test series – won him his place. He picked up the two wickets on day one.
James Anderson’s first wicket of three today took his Test match tally to 250, the first England bowler to pass that total since Ian Botham in 1982. But in trend with the current England mindset, it’s all about the team, and the current challenge, rather than the personal landmarks. “The records are very nice,” Anderson said. “But…at the moment I’m just looking at getting another two wickets tomorrow and another ten in the second innings.”
Anderson will be keen to dispose of those two wickets early on day two and restrict the mighty Mahela, as he is more than aware of the challenge that awaits the England batsmen.
“You can’t judge a pitch until both teams have batted on it,” Anderson said at the close of play on day one. After the performance of his team mates against spin in the UAE, he couldn’t be more right.