BBC BLOGS - Tom Fordyce
« Previous | Main | Next »

Cardiff produces another thriller

Post categories:

Tom Fordyce | 21:57 UK time, Monday, 30 May 2011

Two years ago we had the Great Escape. The second Miracle of Cardiff was every bit as impossible to believe.

Midway through the final afternoon it was still raining. England were 92 runs ahead, waiting to see if they might possibly get on for a couple of overs before the inevitable early finish so Ian Bell could complete his century.

Under the covers was a pitch apparently as devoid of life as the moon and nowhere near as dusty. Sri Lanka had stuck on 400 in their first innings without their best player even making a contribution. The rain kept falling. Just shake hands on the draw, we begged them, so we can all go home.

The game finished early alright. Two baffling, thrilling hours after Bell had marched off, England had sealed one of the most remarkable, preposterous wins that they have ever been involved in.

If that sounds like hyperbole, you weren't there. Almost no-one was.

England celebrate after Cardiff win

England celebrate their remarkable victory over Sri Lanka in first Test - photo: Reuters.

At tea Sri Lanka were 33-2 and cruising. Half an hour later they were 52-8 and gone, flushed down the gurgler in such rapid succession that they almost went hand in hand.

Even when Chris Tremlett struck twice at the top of the innings it shouldn't have been possible. James Anderson, England's best bowler of the last few years, was off the field injured. The previous six wickets had seen more than 500 runs stuck on the board.

So why was it? Pressure, heavy as an elephant, squeezing down on Sri Lankan shoulders as nerves turned to panic and then calamity.

The key moment was the dismissal of Mahela Jayawardene, almost 10,000 Test runs to his name, send packing by a jaffa of an outswinger from Tremlett after being softened up by the short stuff and set up by the inswinger.

Mild interest in the commentary boxes suddenly turned to rapt attention. Welshmen with an eye and an ear on Swansea's progress in the Championship play-off final at Wembley put radios and smart phones down and fixed their attention entirely on the middle.

When Kumar Sangakkara fell to Graeme Swann, pouched by Andrew Strauss at slip to make it 43-5, the win felt possible. When Maharoof and first innings centurion Prasanna Jayawardene followed within five balls, probable rolled into town.

Two years ago England had somehow snatched a draw from Australia thanks to an implausible last wicket stand between Anderson and Monty Panesar. Would Rangana Herath and Thisara Perera find inspiration in their deeds and derring-do at the death?

Herath swiped across the line like a man playing beach cricket to be trapped lbw by Swann. Bell produced the catch of the summer to snag Perera at short leg.

In the blink of a disbelieving eye it was over. In all, eight wickets went down for 49 runs in a fraction more than 12 overs.

It was the 10th shortest innings in Test history. England have been involved in seven of those, which will be no surprise to anyone who has watched them over down the nerve-jangled years.

For a finale that will be remember for so many years, the first-hand accounts will be somewhat thin on the ground.

At one stage before lunch there were 19 paying punters in the stands. Even by the end, when the gates had been thrown open and any passing joggers and dog-walkers invited in for free, there were still no more than a thousand to witness it. Give it a year or so, mind you, and that number will probably have tripled.

Swann finished with four for 16 off his seven overs, dramatically finding turn and menace from nowhere in the way great spinners suddenly can when the trap door starts to creak under a panicked batting order.

Tremlett was almost more impressive, his 4-40 including three of the visitors's top four in the batting order, with his two wickets in the first three overs greasing the floor under Sri Lankan spikes.

For a man sometimes derided as a gentle giant he put together a spell that sang with aggression and danger, charging in with foot down and dander up. The Sri Lankans quaked and then capitulated.

This four-man England attack, a fair few wise men were saying, was all wrong. You can't win Test matches on flat pitches with four bowlers. They were right. You only need three.

For all the opprobrium that will be thrown at Sri Lanka after their knock-kneed collapse, equal amounts of praise should be heaped on England.

Here, in under a session, was the encapsulation of why they are now a team to be feared and admired - in a seemingly impossible situation, shorn of their leading bowler, in a match that everyone had written off, somehow finding a way to win against any odds or expectations.

This is what the great Australian teams used to do: snatch victories from the back teeth of draws, never mind the jaws.

It is also, in a nutshell, what makes Test cricket like no other game we have.

What other sport can offer a twist so dramatic so late in a tale? A match that seemed to sum up how contradictory and pointless the sport can be - playing on for a meaningless two hours, in an empty ground, when the result has been obvious for days - instead provided a peerless demonstration of why you can never ever quite look away.

Four and a half days of tedium, and then a flabbergasting finish. Next time they have a Test in Cardiff we'll know exactly what to expect.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Tremlett is fast becoming the modern day Curtley Ambrose. Astonishing talent who demonstrated his skills back in 2007 but was then harshly cast aside for the returning Harmison and Hoggard.

    Unquestionably the best seamer in modern cricket, along with Dale Steyn!

  • Comment number 2.

    England's last 5 test wins have all come by an innings.

    Those 5 innings wins in 7 tests include one loss and a draw. Ruthless.

  • Comment number 3.

    Brilliant. There should be a fair few journalists eating humble pie after they criticised our tactics over the first four days.

    There is no other game like Test Cricket.

  • Comment number 4.

    I still don't believe it even now...
    I would of laughed in your face at midday.
    I was saying it'll be an interesting match to watch the end of but probably would still be a draw when I stopped playing the video game I was playing and 5th wicket had occurred.

    6th wicket happened and glued ah the wonder of test cricket!

  • Comment number 5.

    Incredible but, despite this freak-show of a non-innings, still think we should go in with 5 bowlers. We have some fearsome stuff in reserve and we should use it.

  • Comment number 6.

    Can anyone explain why Broad continues to open the bowling instead of Tremlett?
    I think today was a good illustration of what he can offer with the new ball.

  • Comment number 7.

    Great blog as ever Tom. Still can't quite believe the result, and don't expect our other visitors this summer will implode so spectacularly as the Sri Lankans did, but that doesn't take away from a great team performance. You're right - it's like the Aussies used to be.

  • Comment number 8.

    As an eternal optimist, at the start of play I was thinking "SL's batting isn't that deep, nip a few out and you never know". At tea I actually thought if we could get the big two out quickly there could be a twist, but I never expected this! It was incredible, brilliant brilliant bowling from England, and SL completely crumbled. the shots played by Samaraweera and Herath (a tailender but a pretty competent one) were apalling. Brought up on the subcontinent, surely Samaraweera knows better than to try to cut an off-spinner on the last day of a test match!

    But it's that old hat, pressure. It does funny things to people, and once England got amongst them SL completely capitulated. Credit to England, in Anderson's absence they rose to the task magnificently, Tremlett goes from stregth to strength, and Swann showed once again why he is the leading spinner in the world.

    And so on to Lords, where do SL go from here? Their bowling looks toothless and unlikely to take ten let alone twenty wickets in a match, while their much vaunted batting had a nightmare. Do they stregnthen the batting, thus weakening the bowling further? Should Randiv have a go? Fernando will surely be in if he is fit.

    England will make the one enforced change, with probably Finn but perhaps Onions coming in for Jimmy. They won't pick five bowlers, whatever people say.

  • Comment number 9.

    @OhhhhMattyMatty 'Tremlett is fast becoming the modern day Curtley Ambrose. '

    'Unquestionably the best seamer in modern cricket, along with Dale Steyn!'

    No, and no. Tremlett is a good medium pace bowler who has done well in his ten or less test matches - Ambrose and Steyn (already) are legends of the game. Ambrose in particular was a colossus, as good as any bowler who has ever played Test cricket. Steyn, meanwhile, is the only genuine world-class fast bowler in the world right now, and will soon be placed alongside the likes of Marshall and Akram as a crackerjack bowler in all conditions and against all teams. The comparison would be offensive to all parties if it wasn't so laughable.

    More generally, I reckon this game just goes to show that a Test match, uniquely, fanatstically, really ain't over 'til it's over.

  • Comment number 10.

    I hoped, as you do. I didn't really believe. But I didn't stop listening - and wow!

    Lots of good things happening round this team. Everyone involved deserves great credit. Hard to imagine a much better start to the Summer for the squad, backroom boys and girls and all, who really must now believe anything is possible.

    chuckle. Cue the crash at Lords...

  • Comment number 11.

    While I can deny the excitement the end of this test has produced, I hope it hasn't glossed over the fact that scheduling test matches in Cardiff for May is daft. It shouldn't be forgotten that a day and a half were lost to weather that is almost twice as wet as England at this time of year.

    I'm not opposed to tests in Cardiff, quite the opposite in fact, but please make them later in the summer.

  • Comment number 12.

    Patrick #9,

    In fairness to "Matty" I think you may have overlooked the words.." becoming.."
    although I tend to agree with your more general point.

    Still, well done Trem!

  • Comment number 13.

    @9 while I agree there is no way you can put Tremlett in the same bracket as Ambrose, I also feel that it is hard to put Steyn in the same league as the great West Indian. I agree he is probably the best seam bowler in world cricket at the moment, but if the ball isn't swinging he is fairly average as all he offers is pace and no variation.

    Also Tom, very good blog as usual, but my one issue with it is that you put SL's collapse down to pressure. In my opinion the reason for this collapse was the absence of pressure - that they thought they were in a game that was impossible to lose and so didn't bat like they should in a Test match. This is what makes Test cricket the best form of the game - it can be a stalemate for 4 and a half days but if you take your foot of the gas for one session it can all go wrong. Well played England.

  • Comment number 14.

    My son says I have taught him more about life than anyone he knows. One thing I taught him is that 'it isn't over until the landlord calls time, the final whistle, the fat lady sings" or whatever your preference, never truer than today.

  • Comment number 15.

    A balls-out quality win for England. A great watch. But it is an absolute scandal that there was no one there to watch it. Cardiff should never host a test match again, or at least for a long, long time.

  • Comment number 16.

    Don't undersetimate the pyschological knife that Strauss and Flower put through Sri Lanka in the afternoon.

    Rain, weather, bad light - gotta be a draw.

    Thinking England may declare at the overnight position, they didn't.

    Then, thinking England would bat until tea (or even the rest of the day what was left of it), they didn't.

    This is what good teams do - not only beat you with superior talent and tactics but also with superior mind games. Australia excelled at this for years.

    Score 400 in your first innings? We'll still beat you in 3 days.

  • Comment number 17.

    England played like real and ferocious lions. They fielded well, batted well and bowled well. Congratulations to skipper Andrew Strauss and his miracle men.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 18.

    Andrew Strauss, at whose feet I prostrate myself in that undignified manner, modestly stated afterwards that SL had nothing to fain in their 2nd inns. Not strictly true. They could have counter-attacked a weakened attack. They could have tried to assert themselves for Lords. We all know that that there are moral draws.

    Anyway, outstanding. Hang on a mo'... Is that Pranav Soneli laying alongside me! Honourable men and women have resigned for less ;-)

  • Comment number 19.

    Lets also not forget that this rout was not only achieved with just 3 bowlers but without two bowlers who were standouts on the Ashes tour - Anderson and Bresnan.

    Very good teams have this type of killer instinct, and this England team IS VERY GOOD!

  • Comment number 20.

    Curses, "gain", not "fain".

  • Comment number 21.

    The England bowlers were playing one day cricket. Who says we can't do that?

  • Comment number 22.

    Make note: England do not need a Botham or a Flintoff. All you need is a cohesive team unit, playing high-standard cricket. England are a joy to behold at the moment - and (given Pietersen's quiet match) not an ego or 'front-man' in sight. Cricket is a TEAM game.

  • Comment number 23.

    As you said Tom, "four and a half days of tedium, and then a flabbergasting finish" - just like in 2009, which let's be frank was also a turgid Test until the final day heroics of Colly, Monty and Jimmy.

    Tremlett has matured like a fine wine and is now clearly in his vintage at 29. Finally, he seems to have the temperament to match his undoubted skill. His bowling in tandem with Swann smacked of McGrath and Warne in their heyday.

    He should have been given the new ball in the 1st innings and showed just what he can do second time around. As you'd expect, Tremlett scores highly in our marks out of 10 for England!

    1st Test, Cardiff: England marks out of 10

  • Comment number 24.

    Gavelaa: Oh rubbish. There were few people there to watch an almost certain draw on a day when it had been raining all morning AND Swansea were getting into the Premiership. There wouldn't have been many in any ground in Britain.

    Tell you what, though. There'll be a few more next time!

    I do agree that it would be better to have the Cardiff Test in high summer, though.

  • Comment number 25.


    Cardiff not to have another test...? The shocking weather explains the turn out. But the Swalec is fast becoming a centre of strategic excellence for England. Our last home Ashes victory began there. Our new quest is to become No.1 Test ranked side. The quickest route to that goal is to win all tests this summer. Not a bad start. It's been mentioned that India are a tougher proposition. Nevertheless, they are beatable. I said this on another blog but it wouldn't surprise me if England did pull it off this summer. They are special. Michael Vaughan had a special team, Andrew Strauss now has his hands on one.

    England expects....

  • Comment number 26.

    It was weird. The sort of afternoon where everything just fell into place. The parallels to Kingston 2009 were very strong: recent upheaval, a match that looked set for a draw and a visiting side that went back in facing a modest deficit, only to spiral to defeat as batsmen refused to knuckle down and graft out an innings.

    There was always a possibility, however remote that it seemed, that Sri Lanka would come out in party mode, completely unable to believe that someone else would get them out of trouble. The batting line-up is not deep and, if a couple of wickets fell quickly, you felt that they could pass a tense afternoon, hanging on. For me, the key wicket was the one straight after tea: when that one fell Sri Lanka were suddenly in trouble because there was not much experienced batting left and panic was rising. I was listening to Geoff Boycott calling it: at the fourth wicket he was singing, "you're going to lose because you can't bat!" Wasting two reviews when both times the batsman must have known that he was dead in the water just showed how the nerves had gone completely and, when that happens, sometimes it is hard to stop.

    In a way the situation was set up for England. A short session with a small lead. A bowler short and another desperately needing some overs because he was nowhere near match fit. The opening bowlers could afford to go out hard for 15 overs and just see what happened. It was win-win: expectations were low but, take two or three wickets quickly and anything could happen and, at very least, a big statement of intent could be made for the 2nd Test.

    In 2009 in the Caribbean, England were palpably the better side, but that win allowed the West Indies to hang on on dead surfaces. In this series though, Sri Lanka are the weaker side, particularly in bowling and are now going to struggle in the rest of the series to make this a contest. They are not a poor side at all, but it is going to be a big task to recover from here.

  • Comment number 27.

    I was meeting up with a friend of mine who I haven't seen for a long time who's probably the biggest cricket fan I know yet we didn't care about seeing the cricket so went to a pub that was showing the football... fortunately after the match they put the cricket on so we got to witness the incredible finish! You always thought there was a chance but no-one seriously expected it. Awesome bowling!

  • Comment number 28.

    Good bowling as a unit. Tremlett, now he has his confidence, will be a menace in the UK, SA and Oz and Swann is getting back towards his best and we have Broad, as nasty as the West Indians of the 70's, to finish off the tail (an old English weakness for letting opponents make their record 9th and 10th wicket scores after getting them into trouble is hopefully gone for good). It will be difficult for Sri Lanka to come back in a 3 test series. I look forward to the arrival of the Indians and while I want England to win, I do hope Tendulkar is in the runs so my son can see him live at near his best. A man to admire hugely to perform so consistently over so many years under the kind of pressure that makes our tabloids look like kids comics.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Amazing! I was working from home following the live text on the internet, but when the 4th wicket fell I had to run to the TV to watch the rest of it live and it was so worth it. 2 times in a few months (1st day at MCG on boxing day) England have produced a few hours of cricket that were just mesmerizing.

    Gavelaa - You need to spend a few hours on the beach at Barry Island to chill out.

  • Comment number 31.

    Odicean the thought had crossed my mind but I've seen it happen before (usually to England) and I prefer to keep my Cricket eyes innocent. Plus while I think you maybe to payoff a few players the entire team is an entirely different matter and in a mannner to make them all look useless? I think not.

  • Comment number 32.

    Over-posting. Sorry. Pelting down on the French Massif Central. Can't work. Got the decorators in (usual form: massive areas of exposed, hairy nether regions on which it's tempting to sharpen my pencil, exaggerated vibrato whistling to noise emanating from ghettoblaster, polite but firm requests for coffee, not a béret or copy of 'À la recherche du temps perdu' in sight). So I post!

    I think that England's fans should afford themselves a collective pat on the back for sticking in there. The various journos have been advising this, condeming that. Trott too slow, not enough bowlers, Strauss too negative (Sir Geoff!!). Really?

    Most fans have been cutting England slack since around 2005. We have become, on average, defensive about the team. The journos have to ring the changes, work the angles, etc. That's their job. Ours is to support. But I can't help feeling that this England side are painting said journos into a corner.

  • Comment number 33.

    @25 "England Expects"

    This is usually when it all starts to go horribly wrong, not just in Cricket either!

    Am I the only person who actually predicted England would skittle Sri Lanka and win by an innings? I said a combination of good bowling and a bit of luck and anyone can be skittled out, never truly expected it of course. Just wish I'd put some money on it! Then again it might have started a betting scandal!

  • Comment number 34.

    Remember listening to Sir Ian B and Athers bemoanng the 19 minutes lost to the Bell century and they had a point but when you hear Strauss say he thought it would give all a lift and not send everyone out on a downer, as Athers confessed happened when he declared an Ashes test with Hick 98 not out. Hope they will now agree that although not a game of statistics in itself, the positivity of getting a century does rub off and it was Bell himself who pulled off a magic catch.

    What other sport can offer a twist so dramatic so late in a tale?.....I'm sorry, I love cricket but do you watch any other sports?

    Van De Velde - 4 days of golf, just needs a double bogey to win, didn't you see that???? Champions league final, 8 months qualifying, 120 minutes of deadlock, one penalty kick to win and a slippery penalty spot and the width of a post deny Chelsea. (France/Germany world cup semi-final 3-3, Germany win on penalties) 16 days of snooker, 4 sessions, 17 all and it all comes down to the last black for Denis Taylor (who was 7-1 down against the best player by a mile at that time). Lewis Hamilton overtakes on the last corner to get an extra point that wins him the drivers title after 20 races. .... just 4 sports that came instantly to mind... In fact if you watched all of them, which would you say was the least dramatic, given the ease with which England won.

    p.s. in cricketing terms, England Australia/Edgbaston which effectively decided the whole Ashes series is up there with all of the above as was the South Africa v Australia Semi Final, albeit ODI.

  • Comment number 35.

    Sad but inevitable that freak results like this lead us to wonder whether the game was thrown. But I very much doubt it, for several reasons:
    - SL cricket has been pretty spotless when it comes to this sort of thing.
    - No-one has ever succeeded in buying a whole team. Even Cronje never got more than 2 or 3 onboard with him. Much easier to arrange (and get away with) spot betting fixes.
    - A bent bookie would have no knowledge of the time that play would start, or of England's declaration, and not enough time to fix things once that was clear. There was every risk that England would opt for batting practice, or that there'd not be enough time to force a result, if there was any play at all (it was absolutely persisting down in Cardiff yesterday morning). In either case the bookie would lose heavily.
    - If SL were trying to throw the game, why refer any decisions at all? Never mind the two blatant ones that they did refer - seems like desperation, not corruption.

    There's a simpler and more palatable explanation. SL's two star batsmen are still in IPL mode; they have a long and inexperienced tail; and England were superb.

  • Comment number 36.

    Call me "Mr Cynical" if you like, but I find results like this to be "questionable".

    I wonder at the start of the day, what odds you could have got on an England win ?

  • Comment number 37.

    Edgbaston didn't decide the series it was the second game in a five game series, it also brought the scores level. The reason why it's remembered is it's the second or third closest test match in history with all three results being possible and the fact England one after being hammered in the first test.

    At no point was it a deciding factor the series an important win yes it's just the point the public engaged in the series.

  • Comment number 38.

    Great performance from England, so changes for Lords? 2 in my book - Finn or Onions in for Anderson (finn my choice) and anyone else in for KP - time for him to go - how about Trescothick back for the summer? Who cares if he won't tour, as he keeps proving on the County circuit he is still pure class

  • Comment number 39.

    My partner & I thought Geoffrey Boycott's crowing comments as the Sri Lankan second innings crumbled were extremely distasteful, not to say discourteous to the Sri Lankan commentator. GB also has an over-developed taste for stating the obvious, which becomes quickly wearying.
    Good wishes Hugo Johnson

  • Comment number 40.

    How times have changed! Does anybody else remember Flower and Strauss stating when they started the job how one of their key goals was to remove the monkey on our back regarding our appalling record when starting a test series (and especially the season)?

    As an England fan the best you could hope for was a draw, a loss to start a series used to be the norm.

    I think it would be fair to say to both of those chaps that the task has been acheived and then some! England look like a frighteningly efficient side, they have grown a ruthless streak (at last) that has forever been absent from our modern game and they look sharp and skillful.

    And as for our reserves we are looking so strong it beggars belief. Lose a bowler and you have the likes of Finn, Bresnan, Shahzad, Dernbach, Woakes etc to call on. Lose a batsman and there is Bopara, Hildreth, patel and many more (lest we forget the likes of Stokes, Buttler, Vince etc who all seem to have bright international futures ahead of them!

  • Comment number 41.


    Ben, someone on live text commentary predicted almost down to the last run this result. Check it out on 'as it happened'. A suitably chastened Pranav Soneli reposted the SMS as a way of eating a slice of humble pie.

    I'm saddened that match-throwing has been brought up. The logic of the allegation requires that all similar results on the history of the game come under scrutiny, which is absurd.

  • Comment number 42.

    brwonandout it's already been announced Dernbach has been called up to carry the drinks (can't imagine he'd play over Finn). Seriously Dernbach? Bresnen has proven he deserves the call and I'd have gone for Woakes still...

    Agreed with dropping KP however you won't get Banger and while the man is pure class he'll never play international Cricket again. It's time everyone got use to that and stop bandying his name about for selection. I really wish he would play but he won't and has said so on numerous occasions.

  • Comment number 43.

    I would have love to have been at this test match. I looked up the price of tickets on the venue website last week and the cheapest tickets I could buy were £70 per day. Is it any wonder the place was deserted? That is ridiculously expensive just to sit in the rain and hope for a bit of play later on. Maybe next time they will price the tickets more appropriately and Sri Lanka will get the crowds they deserve.

  • Comment number 44.

    Ncurd, forgot you're a Somerset man. The 'Banger' reference took a while to sink in. You're right of course about Tresco. The greatest loss to English sport in my generation. You're gain. Anyone know what the hell is going down at Hampshire (my county)? Suppose the obvious answer is that it's Hampshire that's going down.

    Quick word about predicting the match. The state of play at the start of day 5 all but fully determines the figures which appear in the wager. The lead would be modest due to the declaration. It had to be an innings defeat. The number n of runs + unplayed innings would have to be pretty small. I'm not trying to belittle those who had a punt. Good luck to them. My point is just that if you're going to bet on the win you get the numbers for free. Compare making the same predo at the start of day 1. That'd be odd but even then not fishy.

  • Comment number 45.

    #33, Ben

    No. You weren't. You would be amazed how buoyant England fans were, even with the rain yesterday.

  • Comment number 46.

    I saw this test being described in various ways, from watching paint dry to being a replacement for sleeping pills. Boy did folk change there tune. It was, without doubt, one of the best turnarounds ever seen in a long time. Sri Lanka must be feeling shattered and utterly de-moralised and will have to do some serious moral and character building between now and the next test if they want to avoid a similar beating.
    Having watched/listened to the England Test side through all the trials and tribulations they've been through over the last decade or so it really is nice to see a team not only winning but being ruthless in order to win. May the trend continue.

  • Comment number 47.

    #38 - I would have Trescothick back in the team in an instant, he is still one of the best English batsmen playing the game.

    As for Dernbach - no thank you. Nothing against him personally but if he comes in then actual English players will become a minority in the England team and I would find that hard to take (I know Strauss and Prior have been here since they were kids, but still). I wish the England selectors would show a little more faith in the products of our own game rather than importing players who have little or no real connection to England, and what's worse who DO have much stronger connections to other nations that do play international cricket.

    And as for Cardiff - I don't expect this to be a popular view but I would rather England didn't play there (as a home ground). Again, I know the team officially represents England and Wales, but the reality is that it is an England team fo which Welsh players are eligible. I would rather see Wales compete in international cricket in its own right, as Scotland, Ireland and many other countries with less of a cricketing tradition and infrastructure than Wales already do. I am unhappy with two of England's traditional test cricket grounds going without test cricket every single summer. This is too high a price to pay in the name of "reaching out" to a country that really ought to be standing on its own feet in international cricket rather than persisting with an anomalous arrangement that gives it little or no visibility in the game.

  • Comment number 48.

    I ought to add, in view of some comments about ticket prices for test matches, I agree they are too steep. A single day out at a test match can cost upto £200.00 when you take travel, food and refreshment as well as the ticket fee into account. Its not shown on terrestial TV anymore due to yet again, money speaking louder than viewers. Its cheaper for me take take out a month by month subscription to Sky in order to see test cricket, its still cheaper than going. The BBC need to get it back on terrestial tv.

  • Comment number 49.

    Incidentally, on a popular cricket web site, fans from a couple of teams (one recently beaten by England, another coming up soon) were berating England for not believing that a win was possible before Day 5. They felt that England should have the confidence to roll over a side in a day.

    It's interesting to see reactions AFTER the win. It seems that underestimating England tends to be endemic in certain areas of the world and certainly England have been able to take advantage of this to ambush opponents. Suddenly some Indian fans are beginning to realise that the upcoming series in England may not be the easy win that they expected and that their less than ideal preparation may mirror Australia's inability to take the England threat seriously.

  • Comment number 50.

    Agree with most posts here, it was phenomenal that 2 innings took 4 and a half days, and then the 3rd was wrapped up in 2 hours to give england the win! unbeleivable!!

    I think it was a disgrace that the FIRST test of the ENGLISH summer should be in Cardiff, in May. Even in good weather the turnout would have been average, it is just idiocy... it insults England fans too, having the first test of our summer in a different Country, and in a country where cricket isn't even that popular, and where most of the residents dont even support England. The issues with the weather in this miserable place, are also an obvious factor.

    I hope it is not repeated - I dont see the point of the ECB trying to force test cricket on so many grounds just for the sake of it...Glamorgan CC have always been a meaningless little club in Wales - why have we pushed so hard to get them hosting test matches, especially in Wales?? I dont understand it.

    Ryder Cup in Wales, in October, springs to mind in this discussion - do sport administrators have ANY brains at all??

  • Comment number 51.

    Agree about the ticket prices highly considered going to The Rose Bowl to watch Sri Lanka play. Then saw it was 70 quid a day! I already pay for Sky mainly for the Cricket but it just prices me out of a test match live as I want to watch all 5 days.

    I'd much rather save up the money and go to a tour match as a full holiday.

  • Comment number 52.

    @ncurd (42) Bresnan and Woakes are injured. The other options were Shahzad (by all accounts bowling horribly for Yorks) and Onions (still feeling his way back from injury).

  • Comment number 53.

    #52, in Durham's last game Onions bowled a great first spell, a mediocre second spell and a terrible third spell. He's nowhere near ready for Test cricket yet as that will show. And, inconveniently, we now have a solid diet of T20 coming up, which will not improve his match fitness for the 4 and 5-day game at all.

    For Graeme Onions it is probably a blessing because it should stop him receiving a premature call-up before he is fit and ready.

  • Comment number 54.

    Perhaps a missed point is that a day and a half's rain must have affected the wicket, whatever efforts may have been made with the covers etc. Any gardener can tell you that covered ground naturally assimilates moisture during heavy rain.

    That said, Sri Lanka had two overs in which to observe and one would have thought the top order batsmen fielding close to the wicket would have been on the lookout for any changes in the way the ball was behaving - and have had a good feel with fingers and feet wherever they could.

    Maybe two overs wasn't enough - but they should certainly have been very wary that a wicket which had previously thrown up nearly 900 runs for only fifteen wickets would not be the same yesterday.

    But they went out and batted in the same style as before......

  • Comment number 55.

    Thanks for spoiling my Monday afternoon England!!

    Settled down in front of the telly at 3.00 with the intention of a few hours snooze...and then I had this ridiculous dream......

  • Comment number 56.

    "Great win shame there was nobody watching"......Plenty watching on Sky or even the highlights on Channel 5. BBC have come such a long way for the sports fan, such good value for the licence fee, please feel free to debate this on 606.....oops thats closed now as well.
    BBC you are a disgrace

  • Comment number 57.

    There were more people watching in my front room than at the ground... fantastic bowling display from England and thoroughly deserved victory... Batting collapse of "england" proportions there though (of old i may add) Glad i put it on now! Sri lanka are one hell of a lot better than that now so better hope they don't get too big for their boots before the next test.

  • Comment number 58.

    #50. The ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) may have been wrong to schedule the first test in Wales but I think it's a great idea to spread it all around the country and expand the sport where it can. In regards to the attendance; I didn't even bother to watch on TV because frankly a draw was a done deal.

    As for the weather; didn't exactly stop a result did it!

  • Comment number 59.

    Afridi has retired (conditionally). Well done the PCB! A decent man, exciting player and it seemed a promising skipper just when Pakistan cricket really needed some stabilty. Maybe I'm missing something. I know he criticised the board. Still, it's a shame and probably a scandal. Love to know what England-based Pakistani fans make of it. Me, I hope the board changes.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hello gang - supa chat as always. On Monday morning, or Monday lunchtime for that matter, did anyone here actually genuinely believe England could win?

    Stevieb_e4 - take your point, but in all the examples you give we all knew there would be a result. We all knew we would have a winner. We all knew it was worth watching. With this Test match we didn't. It went from complete waste of time at 1500 Mon to staggering England win before 1800.

    Incidentally, the win may have ramifications beyond this series too - the only way England could go to no.1 in the ICC world rankings this summer is to win every match vs both SL and India. Still unlikely, but not as unlikely as it was Mon morning...

  • Comment number 61.

    @60 Would the England of old just batted for ages and not even attempt to "have a go" for the remainder of the day? I think this demonstrates and "new England" with the desire to try and win even if the odds are stacked against them. Will certainly be tuning in for the next test now!

  • Comment number 62.

    Tom, Monday morning... yes.

    Monday lunchtime... increasingly, but not totally resigned.

    At 3pm... yes, I couldn't see more than an attempt to make Sri Lanka sweat a bit.

    The extra 3 hours lost should have killed the match stone dead. If Sri Lanka had got any lead at all England's task was going to be twice as hard. They just needed one partnership to kill the game. Even a 30 partnership that took an hour would have killed the game.

  • Comment number 63.

    Tremlett medium pace?! He must have averaged around 86 mph yesterday. At worst that is fast-medium.

  • Comment number 64.

    Why do India and Sri Lanka find it so hard to field any more than one high-quality fast bowler at any given time (and often not that many)? Pakistan have always had at least two dangerous quicks for the last 30 years (and often more), yet their neighbours seem virtually incapable of producing any.

  • Comment number 65.

    Tom, when the two openers fell quickly I became notably excited (practising the piano at the time). When the 6th fell I was delerious and went wildly to your other blog (Krytonite). After that it was inevitable. At at the outset of D5 I hoped and expected a moral draw, no more than that. Between the 6th and final wicket I was trying to explain to my French girlfriend (who had suffered my sulkiness after the Barca rout) why I was suddenly on cloud 9 again. "But it's only sport" she insisted.

    Better than war though. It was a great moment psychologically for many of us. It's hard to explain that. Perhaps it's not even rational. Who cares.

    I think it was as the 8th went down that I inadvertantly stumbled upon the chord I was looking for, but I suspect that no one wishes to know that.

  • Comment number 66.

    @ 56

    I followed the game the same way I always do: Test Match Special on the BBC. The single best use of my license fee there ever has or will be.

    Let Sky keep the pictures for all I care.

    Which would you prefer to have: 606 or TMS?

  • Comment number 67.

    "......R-Brooker wrote:

    I'm saddened that match-throwing has been brought up. The logic of the allegation requires that all similar results on the history of the game come under scrutiny, which is absurd....."

    Indeed, the idea of match fixing, or throwing games, is totally absurd. We know it has never ever happened in the the sport of Cricket.

  • Comment number 68.

    42. At 10:02 31st May 2011, ncurd wrote:
    I know Banger won't come back, but hey ho, you can dream ( and no I am not a Somerset groupie!!), he is still the best bat in the country not currently playing for England (or South Africa as most of our batting line up also seem to qualify for!!) I am really excited about England Cricket right now, we have been on the up for best part of 10 years, but the squad has depth and balance that has not really been seen before - yes there have been some great teams (2004/5), but the depth was lacking to cope with injuries and retirements. I think England right now are very close to being the best in the World and I expect a thrilling contest against India - it should be a better contest than the Ashes as clearly the Aussies are not the side they were 3-4 years ago, whereas India are right at the peak (albeit with a number of players who must be about to retire). Going to be a hot summer!

  • Comment number 69.

    A little harsh whining about attendances. I am travelling back to Hertfordshire today after having gone down for the test and not even I bothered going to the 5th day. I personally like spreading tests around the country as it makes for interesting trips and encourages counties to improve facilities. I also disagree with Tenipurists post that the locals weren't supporting England. What part of the ground were you sitting in (if at all)? I thought the atmos was pretty good given the weather and the numbers

  • Comment number 70.


    Don't follow your point. Mine is not that fixing/throwing never happens in cricket. We're pretty sure it does. Rather, a batting collapse is not in itself sufficient grounds for thinking a game has been thrown. I should have been clearer and avoided your sarcasm.

  • Comment number 71.

    We all know the ICC rankings are a joke, England may or may not be the worlds best, but if we beat Sri Lanka and India easily (notice the word 'if') this summer and one Test happens to be a draw, England will be the best Test side and only an idiot could say otherwise, sadly that idiot works out the rankings and we'll still only be no2 on their list.

  • Comment number 72.

    Time for a triangular test series between the current top three in the world in order to determine the best? This was tried in 1912 and by all accounts was a mixed success but in the modern era the novelty and intensity of the competition could make it a festival of cricket. Imagine South Africa playing in England this summer insted of Sri Lanka, with each country playing each other three times.

    Would play absolute havoc with the scheduled test calendar, no doubt, and would compromise the Ashes if England and Australia happened to be two of the teams, but food for thought anyway. Can't pretend to have thought it through to any great degree but superficially it seems like rather a nice idea to me. (I know a test championship has been proposed in recent years, but not in this format AFAIA).

  • Comment number 73.

    Call me "Mr Cynical" if you like

    I can think of a few other names as well

  • Comment number 74.

    RealReal, no we we be the best on current form, with the possible exception of South Africa.

    The rankings are based on a 3 year cycle for a good reason. It ensures that individual series do not unduly influence them and that the side that is ranked #1 is ranked on the basis of a period of sustained form. Even if England beat India at home many fans would dispute the #1 ranking until England win a series in India or even Sri Lanka, neither of which has been done since 1984/85 in the former case and 2001 in the latter. Fortunately, the side has the chance to correct that this winter.

  • Comment number 75.

    Something went wrong in editing...

    ReallyReal, no we will be the best on current form, with the possible exception of South Africa who beat us in the last home series and drew with us in South Africa.

    The rankings are based on a 3 year cycle for a good reason. It ensures that individual series do not unduly influence them and that the side that is ranked #1 is ranked on the basis of a period of sustained form. Even if England beat India at home many fans would dispute the #1 ranking until England win a series in India or even Sri Lanka, neither of which has been done since 1984/85 in the former case and 2001 in the latter. Fortunately, the side has the chance to correct that this winter. Win in India and no one will dispute that England are the best and the rankings will reflect the same.

  • Comment number 76.

    I'm not sure the people questioning the result have really thought it through.

    What you are suggesting is that someone went to the trouble of buying the English team to ensure a declaration, and then also buying the entire Sri Lankan batting line-up from 1 to 11, just so they could bet a colossal sum of money on the Cardiff weather staying fine?


  • Comment number 77.

    I don't think the match was thrown. Was listening as it happened and saw Aggers interview with Dilshan afterwards. I thought Dilshan was in shock, and Aggers later tweeted he thought so too.

    But that's one of the many tragedies corruption brings. There is just that momentary doubt.

    On the rankings thing: Ranked number one is done according to ratings which may or may not be right, but DO exist. Qualify by the criteria and you ARE no 1 in the ratings. A side may be rated no 1 but the side rated 2 may be playing better and actually BE at that time the best side in the world. The two things are not exactly the same.

    btw, India are no 1 and deserve it at present. England are the pretenders and gosh, we could have a heck of a series coming up. At present heart says England, head says probably India, but...

    I know. I'm getting ahead of things. Looking forward to Lords. (A lot more than the Sri Lankans I suspect...)

  • Comment number 78.

    Only just watched my recording of Day 5 - including all the post-match interviews.
    Cliches abound. I doubt I'll ever see something like this again. Just one day after the Monaco Grand Prix up pops Mark Webber to take 4 for 40 off 10 - including Captain Jack Sparrow !

  • Comment number 79.

    It was an epic win by the best current Test team!

    Well done, England!

  • Comment number 80.


    Duuurrr..!! Only just worked out what you're on about. Captain Jack Sparrow, uncanny. But whose is Mark Webber?

  • Comment number 81.

    The primary reason England have dominated Tests lately is the pleasantly surprising, superb batting of two world-class players, who are blessed with the ability to concentrate and occupy the crease for extended periods: Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook.

    Another reason is the quartet of tall, strong quicks coming to the fore: Tremlett, Broad, Finn and Anderson (moderately tall), not to mention Bresnen and Onions. Add to that the great spin bowling of Graeme Swann.

    It is England's turn to rule the cricket world, in the preeminent format.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    all i'm saying is that after day 3 at 270 odd for 2 i did actually predict us winning by an innings, though it be more a racking up 600-3 on day 4, then skittlingt them for 150 on day 5 but either way IT's blinking BRILLIANT!!

  • Comment number 84.

    _Hadrian_, I agree about Fifa (they stink to high heaven and Blatter is beyond the law it seems). I also agree that cricket is now tarnished and lord knows how long it'll take to sort things out. The ICC have been more pro-active though than Fifa (not saying much). No one denies that it has happened so far as I can tell.

    But more evidence is needed to JUSTIFY suspicion than a batting collapse. Of course, anyone can raise the issue in a bloggy, unaccountable sort of way. But if it's being advanced as a claim about this match then I think there's no reason. And I'm afraid I have a bee in my bonnet about unaccountability on public forums.

  • Comment number 85.

    I know the game was badly rain affected, but attendance levels for this Test were never very promising from the outset. I feel very sorry for England that their first home Test since claiming the Ashes was not played in front of a sell-out crowd of loyal supporters. Having now witnessed the extraordinary climax to this game on TV, it's sad to note that the England players have celebrated an extraordinary run of form all on their lonesome. Did the ECB have a valid reason for hosting the game in Cardiff?

  • Comment number 86.

    splendidsparrow: Everyone right up to Flower and the Board deserve credit for the current state of the England Test team. The attention to detail has been meticulous and continued apparently seamlessly from the Ashes.

    Perhaps it's just the result, but after all the 50 over and T20 shenanigans, I have the impression of everyone settling back to Test cricket with a happy sigh.

    R-Brooker: Hear, hear.

  • Comment number 87.

    Justin: Because although it's shortened to ECB it's actually the England & Wales Cricket Board. Wales ought to get a Test.

    There's a case for it being in high summer though, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 88.

    Fabulous last day. Tremlett is a cracking bowler. I hope he is given the new ball as the norm now.

    I find people moaning about the match being in Cardiff as though it were in Russia a bit much. The UK isn't that big.

  • Comment number 89.

    I was at Cardiff on the last day in 2009. I wish I had been there yesterday. I suspect the last day next test there will sell out first! In 2009 the venue was the friendliest big sporting event I have ever been to. The staff and stewards were kind and helpful, even to an Englishman. I even heard a welshman cheering 'come on England!'. As to the weather, well it was pretty grim grey and wet here in Portsmouth. It is not Wales in May that is the problem but the UK in May!

  • Comment number 90.

    What happens when you corner a metallic vicious bloodhound against a wall and then put 11 men in front of it?

    See Cardiff 1st Test for what happens!

    1. Confident
    2. Confident
    3. Edgy
    4. Edgy
    5. Nervous
    6. Nervous
    7. Scared
    8. Terrified
    9. Horrified
    10. Doomed

    Sums up Sri Lanka's second innings. It just goes to show that if you put blood into the water amongst sharks, they're going to rip you to pieces.

  • Comment number 91.

    R-Brooker wrote:

    But more evidence is needed to JUSTIFY suspicion than a batting collapse. Of course, anyone can raise the issue in a bloggy, unaccountable sort of way. But if it's being advanced as a claim about this match then I think there's no reason. And I'm afraid I have a bee in my bonnet about unaccountability on public forums.


    Point(s) taken, but I always find it prudent to consider all possibilities.

    To quote Sherlock Holmes: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

  • Comment number 92.

    There certainly seems to be a different attitude in the England camp these days, with only one or two players keeping their places by reputation rather than by performance.

    A little different to what it used to be. I remember Fred Trueman on TMS, telling listeners that he overheard a senior England player saying :

    "Why should I bust a gut out there, seeing as we get paid the same, win or lose".

    Fred then saying that if he had his way, that person would never have played for England again.

    It also used to be said that it was more difficult to get OUT of the England team, than it was to get INTO it.

    One final thought. If Pietersen does go, I hope they don't replace him with yet another South African. Don't we have enough playing for England as it is ?.

  • Comment number 93.

    I get a little frustrated with the whole South African's in England debate lets look at the previous game.

    Strauss - Moved to England aged 6! How many of you have memories of even being aware of different countries back then? Both his parents are English which I've always though was good enough it gets a little complicated when kids are second or third generation then I think they clinging to heritage which isn't there's.

    Prior - Came to England at aged 11! Little more complex but no doubt learnt his Cricket here plus again I think you can change your views here as it's less ingrained in you. I know kids that changed football teams and what not at this age. also has a parent that's English.

    Pietersen - Okay scraping the barrel here but his mother is English and I do think that should count for what country you play for. Yes he grew up somewhere else but that doesn't stop him being more influenced by his mother. I knew some kids born in England and raised here but had a single Welsh parent and supported Wales in everything.

    Trott - Yeah you got me might be our first/second best batsman but I disagree with residency over the age of 16 counting and he's played for South Africa at some level. So yes he shouldn't be allowed to play.

    Equally I have a problem with Morgan in the team but he's allow to play for anyone simply because Ireland are an associate member. I actually firmly believe that associate teams should be allowed to play as first-class team against anyone. I also think they should have some kind a league set-up so they can gain Test status and Test teams can loose it.

    This all said other teams have abused the rules for years so why shouldn't we? I'd prefer they were tightened up though.

  • Comment number 94.

    _Hadrian_, are you like this in real life?

  • Comment number 95.

    "Pietersen - Okay scraping the barrel here but his mother is English and I do think that should count for what country you play for. Yes he grew up somewhere else but that doesn't stop "

    So what? I have no issue with him playing for England but he is the child of an immigrant to South Africa and thus his situation is not comparable to the dynamics of people who move within the countries of the United Kingdom.

  • Comment number 96.

    True in some sense but you look at most kids being born as the first generation from India in this country and a lot of them feel more attachment to India than they do England. It even happens with second and third generations in my experience so it is comparable to some manner. I'd draw the line at first generation though. I don't feel any attachment to South Africa where my grandmother comes from or Ireland where my grandfather does. That's my experience though and I understand it is different if your brought up in that tradition.

  • Comment number 97.

    The "English born" argument only shows up how limited peoples knowledge is of human migration over generations.

  • Comment number 98.

    Kapnag are you suggesting that because many generations ago my ancestors were French I should be eligible to play for them? Or further than that everyone should be eligible to play for African nations due to the Homo gene-line coming from that area?

    It's just silly to contemplate that I agree the blindness of people saying players must be born in England which was my point however there is point over x generations where the place of birth of ancestors should not count towards playing for 'your' country. I say one others will likely say more.

  • Comment number 99.

    My point is how "true blooded" are people anyway? I'd say if you move to a country, raise a family there, pay the taxes and abide by their laws, you should be allowed to call yourself whatever nationality you want.

    These players have all made life changing commitments for English cricket, and are as proud as anyone to represent England on the international level.

  • Comment number 100.

    "I actually firmly believe that associate teams should be allowed to play as first-class team against anyone. I also think they should have some kind a league set-up so they can gain Test status and Test teams can loose it." Quote from #93.

    I fully concur, Curdy.

    The ICC oversees world cricket and makes crucial decisions that, in one way or another, influence the future of the sport.

    I strongly feel that one of the primary mandates of the ICC should be to promote and encourage the great game all across the globe. That means expansionism; not contractionism.

    The game should not be influenced by money or by those with vested interests.

    The ICC will convene this month to reconsider the exclusion of associate nations from the next CWC Downunder. I truly hope that they come to their senses and right a wrong. It would a crying shame if they do not reverse their initial egregious decision.

    Long live cricket and may the great game reach and flourish in all corners of the earth.

    And if the ICC wants to stymie that, then, it should be dissolved and replaced by a more relevant body.


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.