England's cricketers fought to capitalise on the morale-boosting sight of the nation's footballers scoring two late goals against Trinidad & Tobago when they took on Sri Lanka in last night's Twenty20 international here.
The 19,000 spectators packed into the Rose Bowl would have been hoping for more after watching David Beckham's side qualify for the second round of the World Cup, but they would have returned to their homes mildly encouraged by the performance of only one of the England teams they viewed.
Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick gave England's reply the perfect start by putting on 59 for the first wicket in eight overs. Strauss is normally happy to bat in the shade of Trescothick but in the fifth over he showed that he, too, has the potential to take an attack apart by hitting Ruchira Perera for four consecutive boundaries. And the England captain continued to dominate the partnership against a Sri Lankan attack lacking its two best bowlers before he was bowled by Dilhara Fernando.
The tourists' decision to rest their star bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan, and Chaminda Vaas highlighted where their priorities lie - in the five NatWest series matches that start at Lord's on Saturday, and not here at a 20-over slog - but they remained lively in the field and should have dismsissed Kevin Pietersen when he was on seven.
But Ruchira Perera dropped the catch and England continued to make their way to a target of 164. But Pietersen failed to capitalise on his piece of good fortune and was caught on the boundary after adding another 10 runs. It left England on 89 for 2 in the 12th over.
England lost their third wicket with the score on 108, when Paul Collingwood (5) was caught by Jayawardene off the bowling off Dilshan, and Dalrymple followed soon after, falling cheaply when caught behind off the Jayasuriya to leave England 4 for 117.
Earlier, Sri Lanka looked set to post a huge total after Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga made the most of indisciplined bowling from Tim Bresnan, Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett, and raced to 75 without loss in the eighth over. Bresnan, on his international debut, made a nervous start, bowling three wides in his first four balls. And when he did manage to get one straight he was cut or pulled mercilessly for four or six.
In England's pre-match preparations the coach, Duncan Fletcher, would have stressed the importance of not bowling short or wide to Jayasuriya but this was where a high proportion of the deliveries from these three bowlers were aimed. Needless to say, they were dispatched to the boundary.
The events of the opening exchanges were overshadowed by the sight of Ed Joyce being driven from the Rose Bowl in an ambulance with what appeared to be a serious injury to his right ankle. In the second over of the match Joyce, fielding at third man, jumped as he attempted to catch a top-edged cut from Jayasuriya and, looking in to the sun, missed the chance.
As he landed his right leg slipped and he buckled as he went over on the ankle. Joyce immediately grabbed the bottom of his right leg in agony, signalling for attention. As the England players rushed over to check up on their team-mate, the wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, upset by something said by a spectator in the crowd, went over to a steward and pointed at at an area of the packed terrace.
The steward took little notice of Jones but, sadly, instances like this are inevitable if you are attempting to create a football-style atmosphere at a cricket match.
It was left to Paul Collingwood to bring England back into the match. Collingwood took a wicket in each of his four overs and finished with the remarkable figures of 4 for 22. In his first over the medium-pacer forced Tharanga to chop one on to his stumps, but it was the dismissal of Jayasuriya that did most to limit the Sri Lankan total.
Twenty20 cricket is made for Jayasuriya and he looked on course for a big score before being wrongly given out lbw on 41. In his third over Collingwood bowled Russel Arnold with a full toss, and then Kumar Sangakkara chipped a simple catch to Andrew Strauss at mid-wicket.
As ever there was the usual mix of big hitting, suicidal running and fielders diving in all directions, as Sri Lanka attempted to post a winning total. But England would have been quite content to restrict the tourists to 163 in 20 overs.
Rose Bowl scoreboard
Sri Lanka won toss
S T Jayasuriya lbw b Collingwood 41
W U Tharanga b Collingwood 34
D P M Jayawardene run out 0
T M Dilshan c G O Jones b Dalrymple 2
K C Sangakkara c Strauss b Collingwood 21
R P Arnold b Collingwood 7
C K Kapugedera c Pietersen b Mahmood 22
M F Maharoof run out 8
S L Malinga c Sub b Plunkett 13
C R D Fernando run out 3
P D R Perera not out 0
Extras (b1 lb3 w6 nb2) 12
Total (20 overs) 163
Fall: 1-75 (Tharanga) 2-75 (Jayawardene) 3-84 (Jayasuriya) 4-84 (Dilshan) 5-102 (Arnold) 6-117 (Sangakkara) 7-136 (Maharoof) 8-154 (Kapugedera) 9-161 (Malinga); 10-163 (Fernando, 19.6 ov).
Bowling: Bresnan 2-0-20-0; Harmison 4-0-29-0; Mahmood 4-0-34-1; Plunkett 4-0-37-1; Collingwood 4-0-22-4; Dalrymple 2-0-17-1.
M E Trescothick, *A J Strauss, K P Pietersen, E C Joyce, P D Collingwood, J W M Dalrymple, ÝG O Jones, T T Bresnan, L E Plunkett, S I Mahmood, S J Harmison.
Umpires: I J Gould (Eng) and N J Llong (Eng).Reuse content