Tourists master art of bowling badly with diploma in dropped catches

Suddenly, England were tired. Perhaps from far away they could hear the strains of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" calling them home. Perhaps three Tests in 21 days was proving too much. Perhaps they could bear no longer the sight of Mahela Jayawardene grinding them slowly, inexorably into the dust.

They still shouted and cajoled, they still employed that annoying little trick of propelling the ball at pace back to the wicketkeeper from all manner of close fielding positions. But on this day, the second of the third Test against Sri Lanka, it was all show, and you did not need a masters degree in body language to tell.

The tourists were about done for from the moment in the morning when Alastair Cook flung himself to his left at gully and shelled a chance from Tillekeratne Dilshan. Not long after, Matthew Prior pulled his glove away from an edge offered by Jayawardene as if he had come across something nasty in the woodshed. The day finished Cook 2, Prior 2 in terms of drops.

All this and Jayawardene accumulating his second large century of the series. He faced 422 balls for his 195 in Colombo and had confronted, less assuredly but with the same levels of patience and forbearance, 351 more by the close.

If England were weary, Jayawardene still had the gusto to compound their state by assessing their contribution to the match.

"I felt at times England were a bit negative with over-rate," said Jayawardene. "When a side is negative it's probably quite easy to push for a win now. At times they came hard at us but they gave up pretty easily. I was surprised.

"I felt they didn't bowl that straight, they bowled pretty wide so I managed to be patient. If you bowl straight on this wicket with the movement you probably will create more opportunities. That's something I don't think England did well. Hopefully, our guys will be better than that."

Ouch, ouch and ouch again. These were calculated, gentle but incisive barbs. Jayawardene had shown that England were not quite good enough and now he was telling them as well. Just to be sure they knew.

Nor could England take much succour from their coach, Peter Moores. He was candid though not damning. "The pitch has done enough for us to have bowled them out," he said. "We just haven't bowled well enough. We have seen the ball seam and swing. We have created some chances but we have no complaints. Jayawardene has played very well."

It was decent but appropriate of Moores to praise Jayawardene, whose concentration levels in this series have been those of a driven man. He is determined to lead from the front.

But Moores also knows England had one important chance when Sri Lanka's captain was on 66. England's close catching is a concern. They are dropping more than they take, including almost all the difficult ones. The tourists leave for the airport immediately after the match on Saturday, but given present difficulties they will probably struggle to catch the plane.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine