Cricket: Smith's work is devalued: England fail to take the initiative

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England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .380

Sri Lanka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140-1

NORMAL service has been resumed. In Ted's Army, as in all soap opera, the baddies return to character when the end of an episode looms. So yesterday, after Saturday's aberration, the batsmen were craven and bowlers ineffectual as Sri Lanka were invited back into the Test match here.

Like a chill morning at Middlesbrough's Acklam Park, it was the sort of day to make Robin Smith wish he had never left Durban. Having batted for seven and a half hours, sodden with sweat and creased with concentration, he had barely got out of the shower and selected a fresh headband than he was squelching back into Colombo's open-air sauna to field as the last seven wickets fell in 23 overs.

The pair who undid England were the little known duo of Muttiah Muralitharan and Jayananda Warnaweera. With eight Tests between them, they shared eight wickets as a previously benign pitch became distinctly malignant.

Or so it appeared in the minds of paranoid batsmen, but only Alec Stewart, who had given Smith increasingly strong support, got a snorter. When the Sri Lankans batted, the rather more infamous Middlesex firm of Knuckle and Cat (John Emburey and Phil Tufnell) got precious little response.

In addition, England's fielding left much to be desired, which prompted a variety of reactions from those closest to the batsmen. At one point Roshan Mahanama was threatening to level the scores before the close, and whether it was because his concentration was broken or his confidence swollen by the theatricals, he promptly gave up his wicket charging rashly at Emburey and popping a catch to Smith at silly point.

He had plundered, in partnership with Chandika Hathurusinghe, 80 runs in the 13 overs after tea mainly by attacking Tufnell, whose fear of flying appears increasingly overcome by his desire to get the next plane home. With Stewart behind the stumps, Emburey was cast at mid-on to counsel his young partner but was soon waving his advice from near the boundary as the nimble Mahanama drove Tufnell through and over mid-on.

His exit meant a slowing of Sri Lanka's pace from rampant to grinding, which put it on a par with much of England's innings. While Smith's century was deserved and valuable it was also dull and only Graeme Hick made batting look the aspect of cricket which is supposed to encourage people to watch the game. Judging by an attendance to date which would worry a Beazer Homes League football club treasurer he was operating on stony ground and one of the most impressive aspects of Smith's century was the way he maintained his concentration in such a soporific environment.

Smith is increasingly a big-occasion player. On Saturday, he not only convinced himself that, despite the absence of firecrackers, drums, banners and 40,000 Indians, he was in a Test match, but he also eschewed the pugnacious gunslinging style that made his name for the considered attacks of a sniper.

It was only after he had achieved his much-desired first century for England overseas that Smith opened out, trebling his scoring rate. With Stewart looking controlled, England were moving smoothly to an impregnable position when Smith dragged on with a pull shot and the dressing-room door began revolving.

By the time Emburey came out it must have been moving at a giddy speed for he produced a vintage display. Dropped on one he failed to score for the remaining 45 minutes, limiting his role to watching Devon Malcolm blast two sixes and running out Chris Lewis in a classic yes-no-yes-yes- sorry routine that proved beyond doubt that England's usual scriptwriter was back in the chair.

COLOMBO SCOREBOARD

(First and second days: England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings

R A Smith b Muralitharan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .128

(448 min, 338 balls, 20 fours)

M A Atherton lbw b Ramanayake . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

(68 min, 47 balls, 1 four)

M W Gatting c Jayasuriya b Muralitharan . . . . . . . .29

(70 min, 58 balls, 4 fours)

G A Hick c Tillakaratne b Muralitharan . . . . . . . . .68

(140 min, 112 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes)

*A J Stewart c Tillakaratne b Warnaweera. . . . . . . .63

(189 min, 121 balls, 10 fours)

N H Fairbrother b Warnaweera. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

(63 min, 39 balls, 2 fours)

C C Lewis run out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

(60 min, 36 balls, 4 fours)

J E Emburey not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

(46 min, 32 balls)

P W Jarvis lbw b Warnaweera. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

(3 min, 1 ball)

P C R Tufnell lbw b Muralitharan. . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

(5 min, 5 balls)

D E Malcolm c Gurusinha b Warnaweera. . . . . . . . . . .13

(11 min, 8 balls, 2 sixes)

Extras (b5 lb3 w1 nb15). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

Total (561 min, 130.1 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .380

Fall: 1-40 (Atherton), 2-82 (Gatting), 3-194 (Hick), 4-316 (Smith), 5-323 (Stewart), 6-358 (Fairbrother), 7-366 (Lewis), 8-366 (Jarvis),

9-367 (Tufnell).

Bowling: Ramanayake 17-2-66-1 (nb7) (10-2-26- 1, 4-0-19-0, 3-0-21-0); Gurusinha 5-1-12-0 (w1) (4-1-11-0, 1-0-1-0); Warnaweera 40.1-11-90-4 (nb11) (7-3-6-0, 2-0-5-0, 3-0-7-0, 14-4-42-0, 1-0-1- 0, 13.1-4-29-4); Hathurusinghe 8-2-22-0 (2-0-9- 0, 6-2-13-0); Muralitharan 45-12-118-4 (14-2-36- 1, 16-7-24-1, 3-0-12-0, 12-3-46-2), Jayasuriya 12-1- 53-0 (6-0-31-0, 4-1-9-0, 2-0-13-0); Ranatunga 3-0-11-0.

Progress: First day: 50: 102 min, 22 overs. Lunch: 63-1 (Smith 26, Gatting 17) in 27 overs. 100: 163 min, 37.5 overs. 150: 223 min, 53 overs. Tea: 171-2 (Smith 58, Hick 57) in 58 overs. 200: 295 min, 71 overs. New ball: 233-3 after 86 overs. Close: 245-3 (Smith 91, Stewart 26) in 90 overs. Second day: 250: 375 min, 90.2 overs. 300: 438 min, 105.4 overs. Lunch: 343-5 (Fairbrother 8, Lewis 13) in 116 overs. 350: 498 min, 117.1 overs. Innings closed: 1.55pm.

Smith's 50: 207 min, 148 balls, 8 fours. 100: 397 min, 295 balls, 15 fours. Hick's 50: 84 min, 62 balls, 7 fours, 1 six. Stewart's 50: 139 min, 90 balls, 8 fours.

SRI LANKA - First Innings

R S Mahanama c Smith b Emburey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64

(102 min, 83 balls, 11 fours)

U C Hathurusinghe not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53

(165 min, 122 balls, 7 fours)

A P Gurusinha not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

(61 min, 45 balls, 2 fours)

Extras (lb3 w1 nb7). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 .11

Total (for 1, 165 min, 40 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140

Fall: 1-99 (Mahanama).

To bat: P A De Silva, * A Ranatunga, H P Tillakaratne S T Jayasuriya, A M De Silva, C P H Ramanayake, M Muralitharan, K P J Warnaweera.

Bowling (to date): Malcolm 5-3-9-0; Jarvis 6-0- 26-0 (nb2 w1) Lewis 5-0-18-0 (nb1) (one spell each); Tufnell 13-1-50-0 (nb6) (10-0-43-0, 3-1-7- 0); Emburey 10-1-33-1 (nb1) (7-1-22-1, 3-0-11-0); Hick 1-0-1-0.

Progress: Second day: Tea: 19-0 (Mahanama 9, Hathurusinghe 6) in 9 overs. 50: 66 min, 14.5 overs. 100: 107 min, 23.5 overs.

Mahanama's 50: 89 min, 73 balls, 9 fours. Hathurusinghe's 50: 155 min, 107 balls, 7 fours.

Umpires: K T Francis and T M Samarasinghe.

(Photograph omitted)

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