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Old September 14, 2005, 10:25 AM
rohitha rohitha is offline
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Join Date: September 5, 2005
Posts: 32
Default To abherath from Rohitha - Eng/SL Lords 1984

Hi Abherath : this text was scanned by OCR so it may have typos. Its from the Wisdon issue of October 1984. Thought u will like reading it.

SL vs Eng Lords Test August 1984

Heading: Centuries for Sid and Silva while Mendis slays 'em.

By David Frith.

ENGLAND were expected to do well againsi the little chaps from Sri Lanka after the tortures of the West Indies series. That they failed to do so meant an extension of the period of national mourning, a deepening of the depression. Where to now? If GowerS Co, couldn't dominate the combination deemed to be bottom of the pile in world cricket, what realistic hope was there that the days of England's gloom would end?

Many blamed the toss. It is often accountable. But the time to judge it is at the time the decision was taken. And David Gower was not alone in feeling that a humid, overcast morning could well conspire with debut nerves to wreck Sri Lanka's first innings. Instead, when they came off half-an-hour early because of poor light, the score was 226 for 3, Sidath Wettimuny 116 not out off 81 overs. Nor was he yet finished. He was still there 24 hours later, 187 not out, and close to the slowest of all Test double-centuries (A.D. Gaekwad, 652 mins, I v P, Jullundur, 1983-84).

After the thunder and violence of the West Indies series this particular Cornhill Test was a bit like a church service. The tempo was soporific. Nor, in keeping with modern church-going trends, were there many people to see it.. Those who stayed away missed some elegant strokeplay of old-fashioned correctitude, Sri Lankan boldness and tenacity, English frustration. Silva and Madugalle had both gone by the end of the 13th over, and heads were nodding sagely. Then, though, the long-legged Dias helped Wettimuny add 101. The opener reached his fifty with two dashing fours off Agnew in the final over before lunch, and later cover-drove Botham with all the rare artistry of a Hutton. When Dias went to a careless leg hit, the chubby Ranatunga came in, bouncy and left-handed, not unlike Javed Miandad in \ method and mannerism. He had made an impression in Sri Lanka's very first Test match, just over two years ago, when he was still a teenager, and now he settled down as if about to overhaul his Test-best of 90. He didn't quite make it.

Wettimuny's rocklike defence and lyrical driving meanwhile brought him to his century in the 54th over, out of a total of 154. He faced 175 balls and batted 219 minutes, and had we but known it, far from being carried away by his exploit and doing something silly, he dropped another anchor. Pocock worried him to the extent that the Surrey off-spinner came in with figures of 22-12-28-1. But England's main concern was how to get wickets. Where had the penetration gone? Indeed, when was it last seen? Jim Fairbrother's final Test pitch started good and was getting better.

'Sid' Wettimuny (not since 1948 S.G.Barnes had a Sid scored a Test century at Lord's!) spoke that evening of cramp in his feet and a headache from the helmet. He had slight difficulty sighting above the screen at the Nursery end, and wished he had made his hundred later in the day so as to enjoy it more. Unrelenting concentration had forced the moment of joy to pass by without due relish. That undoubtedly came later. He cover-drove the first ball of the second day, from Botham, for four in front of an even smaller crowd, and again the ball was not swinging unduly. Geoff Arnold or John Snow often tried to get it changed in these conditions, and memories linger of Bill Alley with a box of alternative balls. None of that nonsense this time. Measured batsmanship was sufficient to stay alive though
England lost two hard chances when Gower at gully could not manage to add to his collection of dazzlers. Ranatunga and Wettimuny both benefited.

Wettimuny was stroking so gainfully through the off side that Botham brought a man over to make it 7-2. But the Sri Lankans were showing they were five-day cricketers, not just one-day players. Ranatunga curbed himself until the ball was there to hit. Then he would put some muscle into it and lean on his bat as the ball skidded to the boundary. A break for drizzle before lunch helped Wettimuny to maintain his stern concentration, and when Lamb missed Ranatunga on 82 off Agnew, English heads dropped again. Then came the breakthrough. Agnew pierced Ranatunga's narrow 'gate' and the stand of The young left-hander in the white helmet, Amal Silva, who chose the great Lord's occasion as the time to make his first first-class hundred 148 was over. At 292 for 4, would Sri Lanka now let England back?

Not a bit of it. Duleep Mendis, the captain, the man floored by Jeff Thomson at The Oval nine long years ago, when his hair was as long as Thommo's', came sturdily to the crease and was still there at the day's end, 100 not out. He picked off all England's bowlers, took chances, hit hard, overcame a hostile early barrage to call his own tune, and showed what the feet are for. And all the while the tired figure of Wettimuny hung on at the other end, passing 150 in 482 minutes, having taken 63 overs for his third fifty.

In mid-afternoon Botham decided Mendis was bouncer material, but three times the ball floated over the short Tavern boundary, and Mendis raced to his fifty in 64 minutes off 52 balls, with three sixes and six fours. At last, at long last, though the ball was picking up moisture from the damp outfield, Pocock came on for his first bowl of the day after 140 runs had been scored.
Poor light forced the players off for 94 minutes after tea, and play thus went on beyond 6 o'clock. By then Sri Lanka had posted a third successive century stand and Mendis had won much affection by declining to go off when the light was so poor you would have been booked for not having headlights on. Besides which, he was treating the England attack as if it was from the lower ranks of the John Player League.

How to get a wicket? It was all good preparation for India. Wettimuny should have been run out, but a poor throw from Tavare let him off. Mendis finally secured his hundred, off only 112 balls, and accepted the umpires' offer on bad light. Sri Lanka 434 for 4, England's fans speechless, the cartoonists already feverishly at work.

Wettimuny's epic ended in the 10th over of Saturday's play. It was the longest Test innings Lord's had seen, the highest for his country, and altogether an heroic display of endurance by the 28-year-old gem-tools merchant. Mendis holed out off Pocock five overs later, then young Aravinda De Silva reached the cover boundary twice before falling to a leg glance. De Mel dealt out some hefty blows before the declaration, which came perhaps half-an-hour early, and England were faced with a demand of 292 to sidestep the embarrassment of a follow-on. Fowler was nearly caught at gully off the first ball of the innings, but England were 32 without loss after only five overs before lunch, with Vinothen John, bulky as Mohamed Nissar but not as fast as India's 1932 hero, bowling a lot of full-tosses, perhaps through nervousness. Only a few days before, he was walking with the aid of a stick.

Disaster threatened Sri Lanka when it became known that D.S. de Silva, the veteran leg-spinner, could not take the field after turning his left ankle at practice. But soon after Fowler had departed, 'D.S.' limped on and was free to bowl from teatime onwards.
It was one of the most forgettable sessions of the year any year. Broad and Tavare were both out of touch, prodding suspiciously, mistiming infuriatingly. In 27 overs lunch to tea England added 49 runs, Broad 19 of them, Tavare 12 in 20 overs. By the close the tempo was just as sickly: 58 more runs in 29 overs, 10 of them from the high-armed D.S. de Silva, and even three of donkeydrops from Madugalle. With John and De Mel both carrying ankle injuries, the British lion was still toothless.

The Bank Holiday Monday 'crowd' had an Allan Lamb century and some superb catching to remember. Broad, having been missed on Saturday from a fairly easy catch at deep point, fell to a grand diving catch by the keeper after 53/4 hours at the crease, and by lunch Gower had reached his second Test fifty of the summer. But the new ball accounted for him and Botham, Botham playing to leg and edging high to gully, where Brando's 'double', Marlon Vonhagt, substituting, held a fine catch. With it went the strongest hopes for entertainment.

Lamb, escaping a wide catch touched by the keeper when he was 36, saw England past the follow-on mark in company with Ellison, whose 41 was ended disappointingly with a skyer to cover, and De Mel, bowling sharply, came close to a hat-trick with Downton and Allott in successive balls, and Pocock four Test innings this year, four ducks next man in. Pocock's first run brought much acclamation and a handshake from partner Lamb.

Lamb, the South African-born batsman who feels that considerably less than the whole of England is behind him, ran to his fourth Test century of the summer, a feat which must have given him covert pleasure at least, and then hit the toiling John into midwicket's hands. When umpire Evans eventually decided that Pocock was caught behind to another sprawling Silva effort, England were out, Sri Lanka had a joyous lead of 121, and there was only a day left. Some of us had forgotten what it was like to see a Test drift to a drawn conclusion.

The fifth day was an exercise in futility, with Allott off the field with a back strain after one over, Wettimuny almost predictably unable to repeat his long stay at the wicket, Agnew infuriatingly no-balling a dozen times, and Botham dispensing what passed as off-spin. The day, though, was at least sunny (and the oncoming winter is long), and there were landmarks. (Is there a day in Test cricket when there isn't?) Ian Terence Botham passed Trueman's 307 Test wickets, and Gibbs's 309, and conjured six for the incomplete innings, placing his name level with that of S. F. Barnes (what would the cranky old Staffordshire genius have said about that?). And Amal Silva, increasingly handicapped by cramp, won his way to a maiden first-class century. The showpiece once again, though, came from Duleep Mendis, the proud and rotund Sri Lanka skipper, who came within a whisker of registering two centuries in a Test match for the second time. His performance and those of Wettimuny and Silva and Ranatunga, with the acknowledged flair of Dias, and the skill of Madugalle, sadly depleted by a drunk's attack on him in Canterbury, ensured that if Sri Lanka should come here for three Tests in 1987, those who will recall their inaugural Test in England will know that they will not be pushovers. Indeed, if they can muster two or three world-class bowlers England will once again have their backs against that familiar wall.

SIDATH WETTIMUNY'S innings was the longest ever in a Test at Lord's, and at 642 minutes there have been only a dozen or so longer in Test history. He broke his own record for Sri Lanka's highest Test innings, passing his 157 v Pakistan, Faisalabad, 1981-82. His 190 was the 121st Test century scored at Lord's and at the end of the match the tally stood at 124: 63 for England, 59 against England, and two for Australia v South Africa in 1912. Only once before has a batsman scored 190 in a Test match: Neil Harvey, A v SA, Sydney, 1952-53.
Sri Lanka's 491 for 7 dec was their highest in Tests, beating their 454 v Pakistan, Faisalabad, 1981-82. It was also their highest total on English soil.
Duleep Mendis's century (the fastest for Sri Lanka
144 mins) was scored, like Wettimuny's, in his first innings at Lord's. The only other batsman to score a century in a Test in his maiden Lord's innings was Graeme Wood, who made 112 for Australia in the 1980 Centenary Test. Amal Silva's century (his first in first-class cricket
followed by another next day against Warwickshire) was made in the second innings: only David Holford (WI v E, 1966) and Dilip Vengsarkar (I v E, 1979) had previously scored a Test century in the second innings of their maiden match at Lord's.
Mendis became the first Sri Lanka batsman to hit
three sixes in a Test innings.
Allan Lamb's fourth Test century in an English summer equalled the record held by Denis Compton (1947 v SA), Sir Donald Bradman (1930, A v E) and Herbert Sutcliffe (1929 v SA). It was Lamb's 7th century in 27 Tests.
Ian Botham, in his 73rd Test, took his wicket total to 312. Only Lillee (355) and Willis (325) have taken more Test wickets. Botham took five or more wickets in a Test innings for the 24th time, equalling S.F. Barnes's record. Barnes played in only 27 Tests for England.
Nine Tamil students were bound over in the sum of 100 to keep the peace for a year after running onto the pitch at the start of the match and then again after lunch. They were carrying banners concerning the Tamils' claim for a separate state in the north of Sri Lanka. The demonstrators were removed by stewards and police officers.

England have now played 12 successive Tests without victory, equalling their record (1980-81, v WI and A, 4 losses, 8 draws; 1963-64, v WI, India and A, 3 losses, 9 draws). This draw ended a record (in England) sequence of 12 positive results in Test matches.
This was the 77th Test to be staged at Lord's, a world record, one ahead of Melbourne. Total attendance was only 28,000, with takings of 120,000.
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Old September 16, 2005, 12:55 AM
abherath abherath is offline
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Thanks Rohitha. Very interesting.
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Old September 16, 2005, 01:53 AM
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Ahmed_B Ahmed_B is offline
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"rohithar jonnno aberath er khola chithi"
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