President's XI 298-9d & 77-8 England 134: Hoggard's heroics highlight frailties

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The Independent Online

An inspired spell of new-ball bowling from Matthew Hoggard, who claimed 5 for 25 in nine high-quality overs here in Colombo yesterday, has given England the unexpected chance of a morale-boosting win in their final warm-up match before Saturday's first Test. Hoggard's heroics helped to reduce the Sri Lanka Board President's XI to 77 for 8 in their second innings, a total that gives the hosts a lead of 241.

Yet the display of the Yorkshireman could not overshadow what was essentially a disappointing and disconcerting day for Michael Vaughan's side. In good batting conditions England were skittled out for just 134 in their first innings. Ravi Bopara top-scored with 47 before taking two wickets, an all-round performance that will have done his chances of making a Test debut in Kandy no harm at all, but he and Alastair Cook, with 35, were the only two to impress. Owais Shah hit a painstaking 26 – it took him more than an hour to score his first run – but scores of this size rarely catch the eye of a selector.

Of equal concern was James Anderson's inability to bowl in the President's XI second innings and the news that Stephen Harmison's recovery from the back injury sustained on Sunday is taking longer than hoped. Anderson's no-show was down to a blow he received on his right ankle on the first day. The 25-year-old attempted to warm up with England's bowlers but a brief chat with the team doctor, the physio and Peter Moores, the England coach, resulted in him returning to the dressing room and remaining there. England are hopeful that he will be fit to bowl this morning, but they were hopeful that Harmison would be fit to bowl today, too, and he is not.

What David Graveney, the newly arrived chairman of selectors, made of it all is anyone's guess. When he left London on Sunday everything would have appeared OK. The batting line-up was looking after itself and all the bowlers were fit and raring to go. When Bopara took the new ball with Hoggard yesterday England were close to being in disarray.

Graveney insisted that the selectors had no plans to fly an extra bowler – Chris Tremlett – down from the Lions squad currently touring India, but if Harmison and Anderson fail to recover as quickly as hoped, and another fast bowler twists his knee at practice, Ottis Gibson, the former West Indian Test cricketer and current England fast-bowling coach, could find himself playing in Kandy. Gibson was in fine form during the summer, taking 80 wickets for Durham including 10 in an innings against Hampshire, and he is now eligible to play for England.

England's batsmen will be extremely grateful to Hoggard because his exploits have given them the opportunity of further valuable time at the crease and the chance to make amends for their ineptitude yesterday.

Ironically, there was a negative side to Hoggard's performance. England were hoping they would be able to judge the fitness of Harmison , who had a gentle swim yesterday but spent most of the day having intensive treatment on his sore back, and Anderson this morning by watching them bowl flat out. The match situation looks set to deprive the selectors of this and they will now have to make their assessments on what they see in the nets, which is far from ideal.

Sujeeva de Silva and Chanaka Welegedara, two left-arm seamers who shared six wickets, were too good for England's batsmen. Vaughan was bowled pushing forward tentatively, while Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen were caught behind, driving loosely. Cook was adjudged lbw sweeping at the leg-spin of Kaushal Lokuarachchi, who then suffered a nasty finger injury dropping a difficult caught-and-bowled chance off Bopara.

Shah struggled to time the ball but he looked solid before edging a drive on to his stumps and Bopara fell attempting to be positive when batting with the tail. England's last four wickets – Harmison did not bat – added just 11 runs, which is a worrying sign. The fitness doubts surrounding Harmison and Anderson and the lack of depth to England's batting could yet encourage the selectors to go for Stuart Broad, the best batsman of the bowlers, in Kandy.

Colombo Scoreboard

Second day of three

Sri Lanka Board President's XI won toss

Board President's XI – First Innings

(Overnight 298 for 9)

W R S de Silva not out.........  1

M K D Amerasinghe not out.........  0

Extras (b6 lb7 nb6).........  19

Total (for 9 dec, 81 overs).........  298

Fall: 1-55 2-79 3-116 4-158 5-182 6-287 7-287 8-297 9-298.

Bowling: Hoggard 17-3-57-3; Anderson 15.3-4-55-1; S J Harmison 10.3-1-45-1; Bopara 11-2-43-1; Panesar 22-4-67-3; Pietersen 4-0-15-0; Vaughan 1-0-3-0.

England – First Innings

A N Cook lbw b Lokuarachchi.........  35

*M P Vaughan b De Silva.........  0

I R Bell c Silva b De Silva.........  3

K P Pietersen c Silva b Welegedara.........  1

O A Shah b Amerasinghe.........  26

R S Bopara c Kapugedera b De Silva.........  47

†M J Prior c Warnapura b Kapugedera.........  10

M J Hoggard b De Silva.........  0

J M Anderson b Welegedara.........  0

M S Panesar not out.........  0

S J Harmison absent.........  0

Extras (lb3 nb9).........  12

Total (50.2 overs).........  134

Fall: 1-6 2-20 3-21 4-44 5-98 6-123 7-125 8-134 9-134.

Bowling: Welegedara 10.2-2-35-2; De Silva 10-1-41-4; Kapugedera 7-2-15-1; Amerasinghe 11-4-16-1; Lokuarachchi 7.2-3-9-1; Dilshan 4.4-0-15-0.

Board President's XI – Second Innings

W U Tharanga b Hoggard.........  5

M L Udawatte c Prior b Bopara.........  45

B S M Warnapura lbw b Bopara.........  4

*T M Dilshan c Shah b Hoggard.........  3

J Mubarak lbw b Hoggard.........  0

C K Kapugedera c Sub b Hoggard.........  0

†J K Silva c Prior b Hoggard.........  2

W R S de Silva run out.........  4

U W M Welegedara not out.........  5

M K D Amerasinghe not out.........  0

Extras (b4 lb2 nb3).........  9

Total (for 8, 28.4 overs).........  77

Fall: 1-9 2-14 3-32 4-32 5-32 6-40 7-52 8-75.

To bat: K S Lokuarachchi.

Bowling: Hoggard 9-3-25-5; Bopara 10-2-32-2; Panesar 9-4-14-0; Pietersen 0.4-0-0-0.

Umpires: R Martinesz and W A Senanayake.