Umpires need to take time over decisions
This was a tremendous Test match, with both teams having their share of control and pressure, but it was won by the more consistent of the two over the five days.
England so nearly hung on thanks to Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara (who played really well in only his second test innings and was unfortunate to be given out lbw) and Matt Prior. The last five wickets using 68 overs compared to the 26 overs of the first five top order batsmen.
It was a great shame that umpire Asad Rauf’s poor decision to see off Ryan Sidebottom with about half an hour of light left should add a touch of controversy to the climax...
All umpires make mistakes, but Mr Rauf made more than he should in this game, and he needs to take more time in reaching his decisions. His finger is up in a flash, and a little more consideration might have prevented him from dismissing Sidebottom lbw when the ball deflected off his bat into his pad.
But that was not why England lost the test: for that they need to look closely at their attack – as we discussed yesterday – and get more runs on the board.
The question of the bowling will probably take care of itself because Matthew Hoggard looks most unlikely to be fit for Sunday’s second Test.
He was unable to bowl or field, and had to bat with a runner.
Michael Vaughan has conceded that he is struggling to make it, so there will have to be one change among the pacemen.
This can only be a choice between Steve Harmison and Stuart Broad – one experienced, but fallible, the other has not played a Test match.
At least both have some pace and height because England must find something to knock Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene off their strides.
If they can, there is definitely an air of fallibility about Sri Lanka’s batting line up, which will be without Sanath Jayasuriya from now on.
The disappointing aspect of England’s batting in the second innings was that they allowed the seam bowlers to take the first five wickets in conditions that offered them nothing apart from a nasty shooter which disposed of Kevin Pietersen.
On the plus side, Muttiah Muralitharan was made to bowl 31 overs before taking a wicket.
Roll on Sunday!