Test Cricket: Emburey to the rescue for England: Tourists fight back after an early slump but Sri Lanka maintain advantage

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England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .380 and 226-9

Sri Lanka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .469

NOTHING, not even the worst performances in India, had prepared us for the first five hours of the fourth day of the Test here yesterday. England took two hours prising out a Sri Lankan who barely knew which end of his bat to hold and then collapsed so suddenly that even the tour tradition of extending play into the first session of the fifth day was in danger.

The unlikely figure of John Emburey then earned England a measure of respect they barely deserved. By the time the absent captain, Graham Gooch, has his cornflakes in England this morning, he may even have given them enough breathing space to pull off an unlikely victory.

England, 137 ahead with one wicket standing, were no doubt pondering in their umpteenth team meeting last night how a Test that had begun so well had turned sour quicker than milk in the Colombo sunshine. Pointed comments will have been made about the actions of Jayananda Warnaweera and Muttiah Muralitharan, the off-spinners who have done more than anyone to put England in danger of their fifth successive Test defeat and their first to Sri Lanka.

Warnaweera was called for 13 no balls but none, unfortunately for England's case, by the man at square-leg. Martin Crowe accused him of 'chucking' as he bowled New Zealand to defeat in December and Keith Fletcher is unlikely to be subpoenaed after yesterday's comment on the subject.

'It is a superb Test wicket. They seem to make the ball turn and bounce more than we can. I've no idea why,' he said. Under cross-examination he rejected an invitation to clear Warnaweera of any illegality in his action.

Fletcher is well aware of the diplomatic row that would arise if he made any suspicions public though Warnaweera certainly has a very contorted action with a kink in it.

Muralitharan, however, appears to gain his turn from a wrist action which is so pronounced that Australia's Allan Border initially thought he was a leg-spinner. The 20-year-old bowled poorly yesterday, but he found a good ball to defeat Chris Lewis who was in handsome form.

That wicket appeared to be the end for England as Lewis was the last recognised batsman. But Emburey batted so well that he inadvertently undermined Fletcher's argument as well as putting the top order to shame.

After an uncertain start to what may well be his last Test innings, Emburey batted for more than two hours and, while fortunate when caught off a no ball at 29, farmed the strike with accomplished ease.

He showed much better judgement than Michael Atherton (caught slashing at a ball far too short to cut safely), Robin Smith (bowled behind his legs sweeping), and Graeme Hick (scooped leg-side flick). Smith was particularly disappointing because the bowler, Sanath Jayasuriya, although a big turner, would be lucky to play for a county second XI.

His action apart, doubts about Warnaweera's wickets centred as much on the umpire, K T Francis, who appeared to give Mike Gatting and Phil Tufnell out, caught close in, despite no obvious sign of bat hitting ball. When Francis was removed from a Test with New Zealand against the tourists' wishes, the suggestion was that he had been too favourable to the visitors. He is not in danger of suffering such action again.

Fletcher showed the best dead bat of the day to questions on the decisions, but did admit to disappointment at the way his team bowled in the morning. There was plenty to doubt in Muralitharan's technique then. He stood and flailed if the ball was wide of the stumps, and backed off if it was on target. Somehow he only made contact in the latter situation and extended his innings past two and a half hours before Lewis finally yorked him. He and Tillakaratne, who deserved a century, added 83 for the ninth wicket, a Sri Lankan record against all comers and on another hot day just what England did not need before batting.

COLOMBO SCOREBOARD

(Fourth day: England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings 380 (R A Smith 128, G A Hick 68, A J Stewart 63).

SRI LANKA - First Innings

(Overnight: 408 for 8)

H P Tillakaratne not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93

(281 min, 208 balls, 9 fours)

M Muralitharan b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

(153 min, 72 balls, 1 four)

K P J Warnaweera b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

(14 min, 10 balls)

Extras (b2 lb13 w2 nb15). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32

Total (685 min, 156.5 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . .469

Fall (cont): 9-459 (Muralitharan).

Bowling: Malcolm 25-7-60-0 (nb1 w1) (5-3-9-0, 2-0- 7-0, 10-2-26-0, 2-1-3-0, 6-1-15-0); Jarvis 25.5-1-76-3 (nb4 w1) (6-0-26-0, 5-0-13-0, 4-0-16-1, 1-0-2-0, 6-1-11-1, 3-0-8-0, 0.5-0-0-1); Lewis 31-5-66-4 (nb6) (5-0-18-0, 6-1-9-1, 3-0-8-0, 7-3-9-2, 8-1-17-0, 2-0-5-1); Tufnell 33-5-108-1 (nb7) (10-0-43-0, 3-1-7-0, 17-3-56-1, 3-1-2- 0); Emburey 34-6-117-2 (nb1) (7-1-22-1, 11-3-38-0,

2-1-5-0, 6-0-25-1, 1-0-5-0, 4-0-11-0, 3-1-11-0); Hick 8-0-27-0 (1-0-1-0, 7-0-26-0).

Progress: 450: 639 min, 147.2 overs. Lunch: 469 all out.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

R A Smith b Jayasuriya. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

(96 min, 71 balls, 4 fours)

M A Atherton c Tillakaratne b Gurusinha. . . . .2

(18 min, 11 balls)

M W Gatting c Tillakaratne b Warnaweera. . . .18

(26 min, 17 balls, 4 fours)

G A Hick c Ramanayake b Warnaweera . . . . . . . .26

(56 min, 28 balls, 2 fours, 1 six)

* A J Stewart c Mahanama b Warnaweera. . . . . . .3

(16 min, 14 balls)

N H Fairbrother run out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

(39 min, 16 balls)

C C Lewis c Jayasuriya b Muralitharan. . . . . .45

(62 min, 51 balls, 7 fours)

J E Emburey not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

(106 min, 129 balls, 6 fours)

P W Jarvis st A M de Silva b Jayasuriya. . . . .3

(26 min, 13 balls)

P C R Tufnell c A M de Silva b Warnaweera. . .1

(22 min, 15 balls)

D E Malcolm not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

(38 min, 16 balls, 1 four)

Extras (b4 lb2 w1 nb18). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

Total (for 9, 270 min, 60 overs). . . . . . . . . .226

Fall: 1-16 (Atherton), 2-38 (Gatting), 3-83 (Smith),

4-91 (Hick), 5-96 (Stewart), 6-130 (Fairbrother), 7-153 (Lewis), 8-173 (Jarvis), 9-188 (Tufnell).

Bowling: Ramanayake 3-0-16-0 (nb2); Gurusinha 3-1-6-1 (one spell each); Warnaweera 22-2-97-4 (nb16) (14-1-63-3, 3-1-14-0, 5-0-20-1); Muralitharan 16-3-55-1 (5-0-27-0, 8-2-20-1, 3-1-8-0); Jayasuriya 16-3-46-2 (nb3 w1) (10-3-29-1, 5-0-15-1, 1-0-2-0).

Progress: 50: 60 min, 11.5 overs. Tea: 99-5 (Fairbrother 1, Lewis 1), 23 overs. 100: 121 min, 23.1 overs. 150: 177 min, 36.2 overs. 200: 239 min, 51.5 overs.

Emburey's 50: 110 min, 119 balls, 5 fours.

Umpires: K T Francis and T M Samarasinghe.

Andy Caddick, the 24-year-old Somerset fast bowler, had a coaching session with the former Australian pace bowler, Dennis Lillee, and then took 5 for 38 as England A dismissed a Western Australian XI for 141 in their second innings in Perth yesterday to win by 260 runs.

(Photograph omitted)

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