James Anderson was a man apart on his return to the England side but a century from old adversary Angelo Mathews made it a fair fight on day one of the second Test against Sri Lanka.
Anderson put his ego and record-breaking status aside to sit out the series opener but, having traded places with Stuart Broad in Galle, was quick to restate his enduring class as he got the better of the home side’s top order on a batsman’s pitch.
The 38-year-old finished with exemplary figures of three for 24 on a surface offering precious little encouragement, but Sri Lanka will be more than happy with a score of 229 for four. Mathews provided the necessary steel, coming to the crease with the scoreboard at seven for two and reaching stumps on 107 not out.
It was his 11th Test hundred, the first two of which came at Lord’s and Headingley during a memorable tour in 2014. With spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach struggling to make any impression despite sharing 40 overs, England were also thankful for Mark Wood’s show of heart as he removed Dinesh Chandimal in a back-breaking burst of fast bowling.
View from the middle
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— Hemant (@hemantbuch) January 22, 2021
A local broadcaster confirms a wardrobe change for Sri Lanka’s head coach Mickey Arthur following repeated shots of his ‘short shorts’ in the first Test.
For all Anderson’s class and all Wood’s hard work, England need more from spinners Jack Leach and Dom Bess on day two. The former Somerset team-mates shared 14 wickets in the first match but found Sri Lanka much more secure on a flat deck. Nobody is expecting them to produce miracle balls on such a surface, but the duo did not create a chance of note in 40 overs combined and must find a way to provide more threat.