A superlative 2nd last ball victory of Sri Lanka against ex-colonial power England. A fitting farewell to Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The superstars also were part of Sri Lanka’s win over India in World T20 in Bangladesh. Bravo and goodbye.
Also grand cricket from Birmingham born Pak-Brit Moeen Ali, who nearly achieved the impossible for England with a maiden Test century. Great company by Jimmy Anderson for a 55 ball, 81 min magnificent zero. Great beard and great expectations from now onwards!!!
Sri Lanka won when they had almost abandoned hope. From the penultimate ball of a gripping final day, Shaminda Eranga
found a hostile delivery to bring their first series win in England.
James Anderson, who could only fend it to the leg side in
self-preservation, dropped to his haunches in despair. Moeen Ali’s immense maiden Test century was briefly forgotten, submerged beneath an ecstatic Sri Lankan celebration.
sparing England: an unbeaten 108, unblemished even, made from 281 balls.
England’s last five wickets had clung on for all but two balls of the
final day. Pride had been salvaged, perhaps a captain had been spared
too, but it is Sri Lanka who can celebrate a special moment in their
Lord’s. This time the task was much harder for Moeen and Anderson: 20.2
overs. Even in Cardiff, when Anderson and Monty Panesar famously held
off Australia in 2009, they only saw out 11.3. This time Anderson
summoned a heroic 55-ball nought, all signifying nothing.
The crowd was sparse – Yorkshire had folded its arms in condemnation,
convinced like all but the most incorrigibly optimistic that England’s
abject collapse to 57 for 5, well adrift of a target of 350, had sealed
their fate – but a night’s sleep had cleared muddled heads and
Headingley, treacherous Headingley, not the sort of pitch to turn your
back on, behaved like an old softie.
self-denial that he must have explored parts of himself never visited
before. He surely surprised even himself, suppressing the silky ambition
of his batting during a strikingly unselfish innings in which his most
positive shots were expertly selected. In only his second Test, he made
light of his international experience with impassioned advice to
did his timing begin to go awry as the demands weighed upon him. But
his concentration was unwavering. His century came with half-an-hour
remaining, flicking Nuwan Pradeep off his pads, but it had always felt
like an afterthought in an innings where he appeared entirely consumed
by England’s survival. This was not as much an innings as personal
growth before your eyes.
England’s annual Beard of the Year award – and, if that is one of the
most frivolous awards around, this time it would have a more serious
message. There are times when the wider social impact of a performance
in sport must also be recognised even in a match report – and this was
one of them.
that Moeen’s beard suggested he should be blowing up buildings was
rightly reported to stewards and warned. Muslim cricketers have played
for England before, but none had been so visibly proud to be a role
model. With every stout-hearted block, Moeen made such comments appear
ever more ignorant and, for those who questioned as much, integrated
himself – and more importantly his beard – deep into the fabric of the