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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 12:29 GMT
Third Test day two as it happened
Third Test, Galle (day two, close):
Sri Lanka 384-6 (129 overs) v England

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene hit his 21st Test ton - and sixth against England - as the visitors hopes of levelling the series suffered.

Jayawardene (149no) batted throughout the second day of the final Test as the hosts took their score on to 384-6.

He put on 149 with Tillakaratne Dilshan (84) and then an unbroken 97 with Chaminda Vaas (46no) after tea.

Ravi Bopara got his first Test wicket, Prasanna Jayawardene, but England missed three chances on a tough day.


By Mark Mitchener


1225: That's it for us for the day - and that's it from me for this Test as I'm sure all you members of the Tom Fordyce fan club will be delighted to hear that he'll be your man in the live text seat for the last three days of this game. To whet your appetite, you can read Tom's feature on Fabio Capello from earlier this week on the BBC Sport website.

Play is due to start at 0400 GMT once again - so please set your alarms and keep Tom company tomorrow morning. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, and from me, a merry Christmas to all of you at home.

1219: Right, one last e-mail (thanks for all your cricket carols, sorry we weren't able to use more):

"I am a member of the UK Armed forces serving in Iraq. I rely entirely on your live text to keep my American colleagues up to date on our progress so keep up the good work"
Simon Cole in the TMS inbox
[It's great to hear that - happy Christmas to all our forces personnel who may be following the cricket via BBC Sport around the world - MM]

Bad light stops play
The umpires consult again - and they're off. Jayawardene stranded on 149, just as he was on 99 at tea.

1205: SL 384-6 (129 overs)
They're staying on - ump Daryl Harper takes his sunglasses off to see what the light is like without them. Maybe Sri Lanka want to stay on, they're clearly seeing it very well. Sidey goes round the wicket, for possibly the first time in the match. Jayawardene has been stuck on 149 for a while now. Even the Shipping Forecast has ended. A maiden from Sidey.

"Vaas is cracking on a bit isn't he? Has no one told him he is supposed to stay there for another three days and there is no rush?"
Nigel at work in London in the TMS inbox

Text in your views on 81111
(To the tune of Mary's Boy Child):
"Far,far away in Sri Lanka
So the commentary say
Vaughany's team Ingerlund
Had a cricket game to play
Hark, now check the text updates to keep up with the match
And we'll slip down the world rankings
Because we couldn't catch!
Jenny, London, via text on 81111

1202: SL 384-6 (128 overs)
Harmison is set to come on - umpire Harper has a word with Vaughan. Are they talking about the light? But Harmy begins his over anyway. A short ball is pulled through midwickets for four by Vaas - they can hardly offer the light when he saw that one that well! He has 46. The partnership is now 97 - now the highest seventh-wicket Test stand for Sri Lanka against England. Harmy goes round the wicket as R4 LW listeners have the Shipping Forecast imposed on them. The over ends, and the umpires consult about the light.

1157: SL 380-6 (127 overs)
Sidebottom replaces Bopara, while Roshan Abeysinghe on TMS compares Vaas's tactic of "pretending to play outside off-stump" to former England keeper Jack Russell. He sees off the over before pinching the strike with a single off the last ball, keeping his skipper on 149.

Text in your views on 81111
"A tribute to Slade:
So here it is, Merry Christmas?
It's all going wrong in Galle.
Look to the future Vaughan,
The writing's on the wall"
Rob, Chestfield , via text on 81111

Mike Selvey
"I don't think Jayawardene is unduly bothered about landmarks like 150 - he sees the bigger picture"
Mike Selvey on TMS

1153: SL 379-6 (126 overs)
But no, it's Colly for the meantime. Jayawardene is inching towards his latest landmark, guiding a single to square leg to reach 149. He bowls a bouncer, then another which is signalled as a wide - and umpire Harper makes a "one more and you're off" signal. Vaas straight-drives back past the bowler and the outfield allows them to run three. Jayawardene square-drives - but Sidey gets down well to keep him on 149.

"Isn't it about time England started looking for an out-and-out fast bowler in the mould of Brett Lee or Dale Steyn? Our attack just doesn't have the bite it had when we won the Ashes and no disrespect to the bowlers we have available, but not even Harmy is consistently reaching the 90mph mark. This kind of adds to the Christmas list of a decent keeper and fielders who can catch!"
Daley, Scarborough, in the TMS inbox

"Not a carol, but sung to the tune of 'My favourite things' from the Sound of Music, which is often shown over Christmas:
Moments of madness and flashes of genius,
bowlers with backache and fielders who tease us,
Hour long sessions that melt into rain,
This is why cricket brings us so much pain!
When the ball spins, when the stumps fall,
When I know we're done,
I simply remember 2005 - and then I'm not half so glum!"
Mary in the TMS inbox

1147: SL 374-6 (125 overs)
Bopara continues to Jayawardene, who square-drives a single to reach 148. Harmy is warming up - and the TMS crew expect he's coming on to expedite a bad-light decision. Vaas is still having some fun, slashing at one outside off-stump and it sails over slip for four.

"(To the tune of O Little Town of Bethlehem)
Oh little Jayawardene
How sweet we see thee play
Lets hope the slips drop you again
We'd like to see you stay
Oh how bad fielding helpeth your everlasting fight
For every last Sri Lankan hopes you'll still be there tonight"
Thor in Paris in the TMS inbox

Mike Selvey
"That throw in from Pietersen was a particularly brainless bit of cricket"
Mike Selvey on TMS

1142: SL 369-6 (124 overs)
Vaas plays defensively to Colly - while Aggers on TMS reveals that he's going to a curry-tasting evening tonight. A single takes Vaas to 34 - can Jayawardene reach the big 150? He turns a single to long leg to reach 147, and a wild return from KP almost brings his 150 in overthrows until Hoggy makes a diving stop.

"God rest ye merry Englishmen
You really cannot play
Despite Monty, Harmy, Ho-o-ggy
The Lankans bat all day
Dropped catches left, dropped catches right
A d-is-mal display
Oh what chance have we got now, (we got now) oh what chance have we got now
P.S. Sarah for poet laureate
Edd in seriously sunny Antananarivo, Madagascar, in the TMS inbox

1138: SL 367-6 (123 overs)
Jayawardene slashes Bopara for four through point, then takes a single. The Essex all-rounder goes round the wicket to Vaas, but the latter expertly guides one through the covers for a single. An attempted bouncer is pulled to long leg by Jayawardene, where it knocks over a water bottle just outside the rope. That's his 15th four, taking him to 146, but he then plays and misses at one. Jayawardene then straight-drives, and it's so straight it hits the stumps but Vaas is safe.

1134: SL 357-6 (122 overs)
So, how long can the light hold? Colly replaces KP as England rotate their back-up bowlers. Jayawardene has spent 20 hours, 25 minutes at the crease this series. That's longer than I've spent at the crease in my entire life - and if I were to live another 100 years at my current batting skill level, Jayawardene would still be ahead of me. The Durham chap sends down some perfectly acceptable military medium, the batsmen exchange singles and then Jayawardene pinches the strike again.

"(To the tune of 'Fairytale of New York'):
It was nearly Christmas, in Sri Lanka
And Vaughan said to Harmy, please get another one
But then they dropped the catch,
At deep square leg,
I turned my face away, and wished for Freddie
Nick in Henley-on-Thames, in the TMS inbox

1129: SL 354-6 (121 overs)
Monty's off - can Ravi "Goldenarm" Bopara make the breakthrough? Jayawardene pulls him to long leg for a single. But he pitches it up well, and the over yields just the one run.

"We three Kings of Sri Lanka are
Murali, Vaas, and Sangakarra
Bowling England out for nothing,
Batting for evermore"
Kenneth Williams in Frankfurt in the TMS inbox

1125: SL 353-6 (120 overs)
Simon Hughes on TMS reveals he used to play the church organ in Ealing many moons ago, and CMJ thinks he'd be better there than in the choir. Vaughan is back on the field. A nifty late cut brings Jayawardene a single to take his score to 129. Vaas then rocks back and cuts KP through point where Monty cuts off the boundary and they run two. Vaas singles past a diving Bell (pun unintended) at mid-on. Jayawardene, in a rare show of aggression, pull-drives towards cow corner for four to bring the 350 up, then pinches the strike with a single.

"A carol to 'The Holly and the Ivy':
The Hoggy and the Sidey
When they are at full steam
There is not a man in all Sri Lanka
Who from them runs can glean"
Chris in a very cold Sweden, in the TMS inbox

1121: SL 344-6 (119 overs)
Vaas takes a single off Panesar's first ball, and with Monty still bowling over the wicket, Jayawardene is happy to use his pads against anything pitching outside leg stump, without any fear of being out lbw. He nudges a single to point.

1118: SL 342-6 (118 overs)
Pietersen gets a couple to turn against Vaas, who steers a single through the covers. The cricket carols have even reached TMS, and Simon Hughes tries singing one.

"(To the tune of George Michael's Last Christmas):
'Last Test match, I gave you my all
But you threw it away and fumbled the ball
This time, to save me from tears
I'll listen to Test Match Special'"
Carole in Maidenhead in the TMS inbox

1115: SL 341-6 (117 overs)
Monty goes over the wicket to Jayawardene, who pushes forward to the first couple before reverse-sweeping him for four.

1112: SL 337-6 (116 overs)
England introduce their seventh bowler, Kevin Pietersen, for some off-spin. He has two Test wickets, Kamran Akmal and Mahendra Dhoni (can he only get wickies out then? Prasanna Jayawardene's already out), and my "gaffer" Martin Gough tells me he's never taken a wicket in a Test that's achieved a result. Jayawardene takes a single off his first ball to bring up the fifty partnership, but the rest of the over is pretty tidy as he gets some turn.

"To Farouk (0844) - it isn't 'overcast' in Hong Kong, it is horrendously polluted which is why we can't see the sun! Well, to be fair it is going dark now, but that is an improvement as it means you can't see the scum in the air. Still, I'm off to Happy Valley to stand outside in the fresh air and watch the horse racing, while quaffing a beer and keeping up to date with TMS on my mobile"
Mark Stamper, Hong Kong, in the TMS inbox

1108: SL 336-6 (115 overs)
Vaughan is off the field again briefly, with the Montster to continue the attack. Jayawardene nurdles another single before Vaas gloriously cover-drives for four - he's already made 26.

"(To the tune of 'Mistletoe & Wine'):
'Christmas time, England fans all whine;
Prior spilling catches time after time;
With Jaya at the crease, and Monty not getting spin;
It's time to give up, and crack open the gin!'"
JP, Cardiff, in the TMS inbox

"(To the tune of Rudolf):
Prior the red-faced 'keeper
Hasn't caught a single thing
And if you look at Bell-y
He didn't even see it swing..."
Andy, still festive, London, in the TMS inbox

1101: SL 331-6 (114 overs)
A rather turgid spell of dot balls is ended as Vaas and Jayawardene exchange singles, both working bouncers from Hoggard to leg. A drinks break is taken - someone give them some Lucozade or something.

Dog on the pitch
"Can someone please release some dogs onto the outfield... cricket is all about tradition, how can our boys be expected to perform without their dog-breaks?"
Stuart, Liverpool, in the TMS inbox
[It might relieve the tedium of the last couple of overs - MM]

1057: SL 329-6 (113 overs)
Harmy leaves the field, 12th man James Anderson on for his umpteenth sub-fielding stint. It'd got a little dull now - even the TV cameras seem more interested in showing the traffic encircling Galle than the actual cricket. Monty sends down a maiden to Jayawardene, as far as I can make out.

An Imperial Star Destroyer
"Why is there a picture of a Star Destroyer from the Star Wars movies beside the tea interval announcement?"
"Have you turned to the dark side?"
Hugh in Oxford, and Mark Saxton in Chichester, in the TMS inbox
[That's a sandwich. THIS is a Star Destroyer (or at least a model of one) - MM]

1053: SL 329-6 (112 overs)
Jayawardene singles off Hoggy, and Vaas defends the rest of the over. It's all gone a little quiet.

1049: SL 328-6 (111 overs)
The Montster wheels away to Jayawardene, who determinedly prods forward. A single rotates the strike and Monty goes over the wicket to the left-handed Vaas, but he's still wicketless after 20 overs.

Matthew Hoggard
1046: SL 327-6 (110 overs)
Vaughan is rotating his quick bowlers as Hoggard replaces Harmison after a three-over spell. Jayawardene is hit on the pad, there's a big appeal, but it was going down leg. Jayawardene takes two to leg, and a single to pinch the strike - he now has 118.

"Morning Mark. Hope our boys wipe the butter off their fingers. By the way, am still simmering like a pot of stew over the accusation yesterday from your Eastbourne correspondent that Sarah B, Sarah C and I, are actually men. C'mon, step outside and say that mate. 'Oo you looking at? Eh Eh?"
Carole in Maidenhead in the TMS inbox

"(To the tune of "The First Noel"):
The first appeal, of a Sidebottom shout
Is drowned by the bedlam when Harper says 'Out!'"
John Starbuck, West Yorkshire, in the TMS inbox

1042: SL 324-6 (109 overs)
Vaas guides a poor long-hop from Monty to the cover boundary for four. One of the young ball-boys returns the ball to the chasing Harmy, who sportingly throws the ball for the young boy to throw back in - and he's not got a bad arm on him, either. The next one rears out of the rough, spins sharply and Vaas has to fend it off at nearly head height.

1038: SL 320-6 (108 overs)
Jayawardene runs another quick single to Harmison, who then hits Vaas on the glove with a lifter as they run a single. That's his bowling hand - might it be a glimmer of light for England? The sprinting Sri Lanka physio, whose athleticism is legendary, runs on to apply some cream, while umpire Asad Rauf sits down to have a rest. When they resume, Jayawardene guides another one through the covers for two.

"Without being biased towards England, their current world ranking of number two does seem inflated. They have just one quality batsman - KP; and one quality spinner - Monty; and that's on a good day. But this entire series, they've been playing catch up, and certainly not worthy of their current ranking. Number five is a more appropriate position, at least on current performance. And isn't it time we start ranking the umpires too?"
Viraf, Hong Kong, in the TMS inbox

"Typical, my internet has been down all morning, and have missed two wickets and had to spend over an hour speaking to chatchat. Have had stern words with said internet provider for this callous act of theirs and informed them that I'm not impressed!"
Dr Tim, Birmingham, in the TMS inbox
[If your internet's ever down, don't forget you can always follow the live text on your mobile - MM]

1032: SL 316-6 (107 overs)
Having bowled 17 of the first 106 overs, and just six all day, Monty Panesar is back in the attack. He yields a single to Jayawardene as Vaas shows he's capable of stout defence as well as flashy shots.

"Good King Sidebottom, verse two:
England's fielders went to sleep, after lunch in Galle,
When that Dilshan played the sweep, our boys dropped the ball,
Vaughany said 'oh come on boys, time to get a grip,
We'd be better off right now
with Monty second slip!'"
Jamie, Port Elizabeth, in the TMS inbox

1029: SL 315-6 (106 overs)
Jayawardene and Vaas exchange singles off Harmy, and the skipper guides the last ball down to Pietersen at third man for a single.

Not so Christmassy but (to the tune of 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'):
"Roll, roll, roll the ball, gently down the seam!
Murali, Murali, Murali, Murali, spins it like a dream"
Paul Bryant in the TMS inbox

1024: SL 312-6 (105 overs)
Hoggard returns after a brief two-over spell from Sidey. But Hoggy can't make the breakthrough against Vaas. He drives uppishly at one which sails over the off-side field for four. He then tries to pull one on the other side of the wicket, and they run two.

"A crossword clue: Put the spinner on my prone Santa (5,7)"
JJ in the TMS inbox
[Could it be that well-known spinner Parmesan Tony? MM]

1020: SL 306-6 (104 overs)
The two-over Bopara interlude is ended and Harmison returns. Vaas flicks a slower ball off his legs - what would England give for a number eight batsman with his fluency? Just that single from the over, though.

"Re: David from Gateshead's criticism of Sarah's poem. Surely you can see that the non-rhyming final couplet is actually what the poem is about? (!) The effect of the author's knee-jerk rejection of rhyme mirrors the effect of the jarring (if predictable) event that is Matty Prior dropping the catch"
G in Shoreditch - self-appointed capital of world post-modernism - in the TMS inbox

1016: SL 305-6 (103 overs)
Vaas singles to cover off Sidey before Jayawardene has a mow through backward point at a loose one for four to take his side past 300. A much better shot off the final ball brings another four off his legs - nine off the over.

"Mark, isn't it about time for a mention for Paul Grunill?"
Neil, Slough, in the TMS inbox
[Barnsley's finest isn't in today - my "gaffer" for the day is Martin Gough, who some of you may remember as "Our Man in Guyana" at the World Cup - MM]

1011: SL 296-6 (102 overs)
Jayawardene dabs a single off Bopara and Vaas, who is no mean batsman for a number eight, adds a two before pulling a magnificent shot through wide mid-on. It looks four all the way but the outfield slows it down and they only take three.

"(To the tune of 'I saw three ships come saiing in'):
I saw Hoggy come creaking in, sore back, I'd say, all yesterday,
His line was off, his pace was down, we'll see how he goes in the morning"
Colin Allcars, Newport, in the TMS inbox

He's reached 100
1007: SL 290-6 (101 overs)
Another change of bowling as Ryan Sidebottom steams in against Jayawardene, who has 99. He drives sweetly to mid-off where Harmison gets down well to stop. He then dabs one to leg to bring up his 21st Test hundred, sixth against England, and fourth on this ground. Vaas is off the mark with a two to third man. A lifter from Sidey then strikes fellow left-arm swinger Vaas on the gloves.

"Is it fair/ethical for Sri Lanka to bat for the whole five days, drawing the game and winning the series?"
Col (in Chester) in the TMS inbox

1002: SL 287-6 (100 overs)
Left-hander Vaas, with an orangey-pink bandana under his helmet, lets his first ball go through before he edges the second and second slip takes it on the bounce.

1000: With superb timing, Radio 4 LW listeners are returned to TMS from the Daily Service just as the players return. Chaminda Vaas is the new batsman, and we've got two more balls of Bopara's over to finish up after tea was taken mid-over.

"Not to worry, I played this game on my xbox last night and England racked up 700 in two sessions, KP 244, Bell 196, it's in the bag"
David Couchman, Macclesfield, in the TMS inbox

"To the tune of 'Away in a Manger':
Away in Sri Lanka, no slip or short leg
The English Lord Vaughanie should have stayed in his bed
The batsmen are crowing, the bowlers are slow
But English Lord Vaughanie, he can't even throw"
Longers in the TMS inbox

"I bet this wicket will be an altogether different proposition when Sri Lanka's seamers and Murali get to work on it. If the weather holds, I predict an innings defeat and more humiliation"
Geoff Gibson in the TMS inbox

"Climate records for Sri Lanka indicate very low rainfall in February. Wouldn't that be an ideal month for them to host Test matches that actually finish? Question: Which countries host the (a) highest and (b) lowest percentage of completed Test matches over the last 30 years? My guess would be: a) Australia b) Sri Lanka"
David Quine in the TMS inbox

"Hi Mark - when will our idiotic selectors realise that if a batsman/keeper drops only one catch per match off a top six batter, they will then need to score a century in every innings simply to reach parity. For Iron-Gloves Prior to reach parity would require him having an average double that than 'The Don'!"
Jonathan West in the TMS inbox

"On the 12th day of cricketmas David Graveney gave to me: 12 central contracts, 11 tired players, 10 wickets taken, nine Harmison wides, eight leaps by Monty, seven Anderson no-balls, six runs from one shot, five golden ducks, four top class bowlers, three dropped catches, two dodgy slips, and a decent wiiiiickeeey"
Wayne and Martin, Darlington, in the TMS inbox

"With respect to Charles' question (0903), the answer is probably still yes. England need to bowl Sri Lanka out twice to win and the only hope was to do something bold i.e. get them in early and skittle them out cheaply first innings. It went half right: we got them in early... It's dry here in Singapore but rain is around and getting close to knocking off time so it's getting dark as well"
Richard in the TMS inbox


A sandwich
0941: They're going to take tea immediately, with two balls of Bopara's over still to bowl, and captain Jayawardene high and dry on 99 not out. A most welcome pre-tea boost for England.

Out for a duck
0940: WICKET - P Jayawardene c Prior b Bopara 0 - SL 287-6 (99.4 overs)
Crikey - I've got two Jayawardenes in now. That's not what I wanted - captain Mahela Jayawardene is joined by wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene. To avoid confusion (and wearing out my fingers typing), I'm going to call them M-Jaya and P-Jaya. But P-Jaya only lasts three balls - he nudges one behind, Prior holds on and Ravi Bopara has his first Test wicket!

Wicket falls
0937: WICKET - Dilshan run out (Cook) 84 - SL 287-5 (99.1 overs)
Ooh, Bopara's going to bowl from the other end. The crowd rise in expectation as Jayawardene pushes a short single into the off-side. The batsmen embrace, they think that's his hundred. But Cook's throw from backward point hits the stumps. Did Dilshan make it in time? The third umpire Asoka De Silva is consulted, and it's a marginal one. Two different angles are consulted - and he's gone! So Dilshan is out - and Jayawardene's still on 99.

0933: SL 287-4 (99 overs)
The Montster is going to have a twirl before tea. He has a couple of close fielders against Jayawardene, who prods a single to take his score to 99. The field disperses slightly for Dilshan, but there's still a short mid-off on the drive. A paddle-sweep from Dilshan brings two runs which takes him to 80 - he'll be overtaking his captain soon. As if he heard me typing he guides one past Cook at second slip and that brings him another four. The partnership is now worth 149.

0930: SL 280-4 (98 overs)
Monty P, still fielding in the deep, adjusts his patka and tucks it into the back of his shirt as Harmy tries a slower ball against Dilshan, but it's not as well-disguised as Dilhara Fernando's and Dilshan lets it go. The next ball is slightly wide and Dilshan gloriously cover-drives for four. "This series is finished", my BBC colleague Jonathan Stevenson glumly predicts. Look out for his match report at the close of play.

"To the tune of Jingle Bells:
Ian Bell, Ian Bell,
Belly is so great,
Oh what fun it is to watch,
The square cuts that he plays"
Nathan in Essex in the TMS inbox

0924: SL 276-4 (97 overs)
Good running from Dilshan allows Jayawardene to take three after he guides Bopara to midwicket. Dilshan nudges a single, and just those four runs from the over.

0920: SL 272-4 (96 overs)
Jayawardene summons the Sri Lanka physio to have a look at his hand, although he's unlikely to have been too badly hurt by someone of Bopara's pace. Dilshan plays out a maiden from Harmy, during which he's barely troubled. 20 minutes until tea. That's 98 for the skipper

0915: SL 272-4 (95 overs)
Essex's Bopara trots in again with his medium pace. Jayawardene is remaining as watchful on 94 as he was in single figures. Ravi even beats the bat a couple of times, and Jayawardene reaches 95 with a single he fends away from his body. A careful two to deep cover, where the Montster is still the boundary sweeper, takes Dilshan to 72. He then pulls the last ball to midwicket and takes a single.

"Nice ditty Sarah, if slightly let down by rhyming 'Tillakaratne' with 'Prior'! I mean, you had worked so hard up until that point, you should have finished it off! Still, better than anything I could come up with. Probably"
David (all man), Gateshead, in the TMS inbox
[But not everyone agrees (see below) - MM]

"I know we all have Sarah from Canterbury as our top Test match totty but nothing can ever excuse the Christmas Carol she wrote and you posted. It is like the cricket - pretty desperate"
Andrew Gell, Teddington, in the TMS inbox

0911: SL 268-4 (94 overs)
Dilshan thinks about absolutely belting one from Harmison but withdraws his bat at the last minute. Aggers points out that Monty P is still in the deep square-leg position on the hook, but Mike Selvey rather uncharitably says "He's got to go somewhere". A single takes Dilshan to 70. Jayawardene is into the nervous nineties - he's on 93, and make that 94 as he runs a single off the last ball. Stuart Broad brings on a drink and an orange towel for Prior.

"I think that Harper has to go. He has had an appalling game with several mistakes; yes, I know England have dropped several regulation chances, but you cannot have a clearer error than that. Clearly missing the pads and nicking either bat handle or glove. Someone has to make ICC aware that their top-notch umpires are not good enough!"
Daniel, Belgium, in the TMS inbox

0907: SL 266-4 (93 overs)
Bopara is on for his third over (having previously bowled the 28th and 30th). Still looking for his first Test wicket - can he break the partnership? His right elbow sticks out slightly as he runs in, and Jayawardene guides him off his legs for three to midwicket, where Hoggard chases just inside the boundary. Aggers on TMS once recalls having five runs awarded off his bowling when Leicestershire and West Indies paceman Winston Benjamin once caught the ball in his cap while the ball was being thrown back to the bowler.

"Surely all you wildlife spotters didn't miss the massive whale spouting water just 500 yards off the coast. How's that for an addition to the Sri Lankan wildlife menagerie?"
BB in the TMS inbox

0903: SL 263-4 (92 overs)
Harmison replaces Hoggy at the Old Fort end. Dilshan singles to leg, before Jayawardene guides a looser delivery behind backward point for four. Bopara is limbering up - might he get a bowl?

"At the risk of getting you buried under an avalanche of e-mails, is there anyone out there who still thinks it was a good idea to put them in?"
Charles Sheldrick, Devon, in the TMS inbox
[The avalanche is probably starting even now - MM]

0857: SL 258-4 (91 overs)
Bell's off the field, Anderson's on as 12th man and Cook is standing in at first slip. Dilshan tries to guide Sidey away for a leg bye to long leg. Jayawardene is still seeing the big picture - draw this game and his side win the series.

"Amateur fielding from England today. Everyone has been fretting about losing this series and dropping to number five in the world but hang on a minute is this not our rightful place? If people think we are the second best in the world then I fancy they have been drinking some strong stuff this Christmas... LOST in Sri Lanka (let's assume). LOST at home to India! LOST last winter to Aussies. DREW last summer home to Sri Lanka. In fact we have only beaten West Indies and Pakistan in eight series since winning the Ashes. How can we believe we are a decent side with that form?"
Nick Blyth in the TMS inbox

0853: SL 257-4 (90 overs)
Hoggard runs in to Dilshan, who tries to glance one off his hip. Prior takes it left-handed and appeals for a catch. It's not out, and Prior's not happy - replays are inconclusive but he may have possibly gloved it, the super slo-mo indicates. But in umpire Harper's line of vision, he couldn't possibly have seen that - so as much as it pains me to say it, the batsman should get the benefit of the doubt there. "He hasn't got X-ray vision", says Mike Selvey on TMS. Dilshan takes a single while the controversy dies down.

"Good King Sidebottom looked out
On the wicket at Galle
Where the fielders lay about
Body language zero
In came Sidey, swinging curls,
Tempted Tillakaratne
With a ball that edged behind
Rats! Dropped by Matty Prior"
Sarah, (all woman) in Canterbury, in the TMS inbox

"I fail to see why England persist with two of our better out-fielders standing at first and second slip. Both Bell and Collingwood have never been utilised as slip fielders very often for county or country. I appreciate the slip cordon is a problem with the likes of Trescothick, Strauss and Flintoff missing but surely it's worthwhile trying a change of personnel?"
Ste, Darlington, in the TMS inbox

Mike Selvey
"Dilshan has been the ideal foil to Jayawardene, who's taken 238 balls to score 89. But there's still something aesthetically pleasing about someone playing an innings like that, which is the ideal innings for his side"
Mike Selvey on TMS

0844: SL 256-4 (89 overs)
Jayawardene is struck on the thigh by Sidebottom, Prior leaps up to appeal, but Sidey doesn't - and umpire Rauf isn't interested. Sidey completes a maiden, and the drinks trolley comes on.

Simon Hughes
"I feel for the bowlers because apart from the first hour, they've bowled pretty well as a unit - it's been hard labour for them"
Simon Hughes, aka "The Analyst", on TMS

"Thanks Pumudu in Windsor for the heart attack. I'm currently in (overcast) Hong Kong and about to fly back tomorrow to sunny Surrey in the UK for Christmas. The thought of trying to navigate the hire car around the M25 from Heathrow in one foot of snow is not very appealing! But then I saw the bit about Windsor, Canada presumably not a corgi in sight?"
Farouk, Hong Kong, in the TMS inbox
[No corgis, but we have had a lizard today - MM]

0839: SL 256-4 (88 overs)
While the "Bopara's Cap Incident" is replayed a number of times, the unshaven Hoggard runs in to Jayawardene, who shoulders arms - knowing exactly where his off-stump is. The Sri Lanka skipper eventually steers one between third slip and gully, Collingwood fields just inside the rope (keeping his cap on!) and three runs are completed. The drinks trolley is poised by the boundary.

0835: SL 253-4 (87 overs)
Hair blowing all over the place, the luckless Sidebottom beats Dilshan's outside edge again. Another quick single brings up the 250 for the home side. Jayawardene drives at the last ball, and although it runs down to the point boundary, Bopara stops it just inside the rope and Cook completes the fielding as they run three. However, TV replays show that Bopara's cap falls off his head and lands on the ball as he stops it inside the rope (while his sunglasses also fall to bits) - should five extra runs be credited?

David Hasselhoff
"To Matt in Brisbane, fighting off the David Hasslehoff look-alikes: come to Kiev - we have a plethora of snow here! I could say I'll have a white Christmas except that I fly to UK on Christmas Eve"
Simon Green in the TMS inbox

0830: SL 249-4 (86 overs)
Dilshan boosts the score with a couple of leg-byes, before flicking Hoggy over square leg and it shoots away for four. He tries another hook, and yet again it hits him on the helmet - but they again run a couple, and this time they're signalled as runs. A single brings him off strike - while Radio 4 LW listeners are about to endure Yesterday in Parliament.

0826: SL 240-4 (85 overs)
Jayawardene prods Sidey for a single, and Dilshan pushes into the off side for another scampered singleton. The Notts man is still out of luck here, despite some swing and bounce with the new ball.

Simon Hughes
"You don't want to criticise England if it doesn't merit it, but they've been butterfingered today. Jayawardene has only really played in one gear, but Dilshan has exploded here and taken the attack to the bowlers"
Simon Hughes, aka "The Analyst", on TMS

0822: SL 238-4 (84 overs)
Jayawardene pushes a quick tip-and-run single into the off side to bring up the century partnership - Dilshan has scored 55 of that 100, and Jayawardene 33 (81 overall). Aggers notices the ground staff encircling the arena - while you can add another animal to the menagerie we've seen on this tour, as a lizard (possibly an iguana) is spotted. It runs around the ramparts of the fort for a while, before disappearing into the concrete.

"Bit disappointed with the fielding mishaps - especially considering how good the fielding was in the one-dayers. Is it the heat?"
Linda in Newbury

0817: DROPPED CATCH - SL 237-4 (83 overs)
Sidey's still getting it to swing, Dilshan nudges a two to leg but then he nicks another one and it's dropped AGAIN. Between Prior and Bell (keeper and first slip). AGAIN. Sheesh. Sidey must be spitting feathers here. Simon Hughes on TMS thinks Prior doesn't stand wide enough for Sidey's left-arm-over line. They ran a single there, too. Jayawardene tickles one off the next ball, with the same result.

Jonathan Agnew
"For someone who's quite quiet off the field, Sidebottom is really quite angry at the moment, after that last over"
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

Matthew Hoggard
0812: SL 233-4 (82 overs)
Matthew Hoggard runs in... and pulls out of the delivery at the last minute. When he does go through with it, this time it's Jayawardene hit on the pad. That's another big shout... and again it's not out, as it swung a little too much and was going down leg. The next couple are wide outside off-stump as the Yorkshireman's radar is a little off. It's a maiden, though. If you're just off out for the day, remember you can follow all the action on BBC Sport via your mobile or other handheld gizmo.

"Re: Harry Guinness on cricket at Yale. If Harry looked beyond his ivory tower he would find many US universities with cricket teams. Our touring team have played games against U. Vermont and RPI (New York) in the north east US since the mid 90s and over here on the west coast there are inter-collegiate games for undergraduate teams in So Cal that include UCSD, UCI, San Diego State, USC and CSUF. I'll bet there are many others around the country"
Nigel (UCSD) in the TMS inbox

That's 50
0807: SL 233-4 (81 overs)
The second new ball is taken, and given straight to Ryan Sidebottom. Jayawardene guides away a single, leaving Dilshan on strike. He's on 48 and although they run two, leg-byes are signalled once more. He's then hit on the back pad by Sidey, but a fairly loud appeal is turned down - rightly, as it looks like it was going down leg. Sidey gets another one to swing in, Dilshan gets a streaky inside edge and it sails past the stumps for four - that's his 11th Test fifty. Sidey's out of luck once again as the last ball flies through the gate, flicks his pad and carries inches over the stumps. Poor Sidey.

0801: SL 226-4 (80 overs)
Fourth umpire Gamini Dissanayake jogs out to hand Asad Rauf the second new ball, which can be taken after this over. Jayawardene, a master of crease-occupation and run-accumulation, takes another single off Harmy while CMJ catches a mosquito on his hand in the TMS commentary box. Dilshan finally tries to hook, but mistimes it and it hits the earpiece of his helmet. They run a leg-bye (sort of a helmet-bye). Dilshan is struck on the pad, umpire Harper says "not out" as it looked a bit high, and another leg-bye is taken.

"I agree with Dave in Cumbria, why is it that Aussies such as Ponting, Warne, McGrath, Langer, Gilchrist etc etc can stay at the top of their game for years, but our players seem to drift in and out of form, or we have one player who we think will be the saviour of English Cricket... then... they disappear!"
Keith Block, Wellington New Zealand, in the TMS inbox

0757: SL 223-4 (79 overs)
Monty still has a slightly odd field with a slip, a short leg and a Reasonably Short Extra Cover on the drive. Jayawardene takes two off the first ball, then a single to Bopara on the cover boundary, which CMJ reckons would have been two to most of the other England fielders.

0754: SL 220-4 (78 overs)
Harmy fires in a very high bouncer at Dilshan which is ruled to be an aerial wide by umpire Daryl Harper. The next ball is a no-ball, extending the over further. Dilshan drives one just wide of Bopara at mid-on, he makes a diving stop as his sunglasses fall off and shies at the stumps at the bowler's end but misses as they run a quick single. Jayawardene pinches the strike with a single to fine leg, and these two have added 82 now.

If you're just joining us, our earlier-than-usual start of 0400 GMT was torpedoed by some rain yesterday afternoon, and we didn't start until 0530 GMT. Here are the amended times for the last two sessions:

  • Second session: 1310-1510 local time (0740-0940 GMT)
  • Tea: 1510-1530 local time (0940-1000 GMT)
  • Final session: 1530-1730 local time (1000-1200 GMT) - or more likely, until bad light ends play before then

0749: SL 216-4 (77 overs)
It's a double change of bowling as Panesar replaces Hoggard. Jayawardene is still putting safety first, defending Monty's quicker ball off the back foot. He then cuts straight to Pietersen at backward point, and it's a second maiden for the Montster - he has a nevertheless economical 0-31 from 15 overs.

0746: SL 216-4 (76 overs)
Harmy's first ball after lunch is driven back down the ground for three by Jayawardene. There are no fewer than three men back on the fence on the leg side for Dilshan - a very obvious trap to hook, but Dilshan isn't having anything of it so far. He gloves one down to Sidebottom at long leg for two. Angus Fraser on TMS echoes a comment my dad often makes to me - that as a captain, you always feel you're one fielder short. The last ball is a fierce bouncer which Dilshan tries to duck but it hits him on the peak of his helmet.

0741: We're just starting up again - Harmison replaces Collingwood in the attack.

"Hi Mark! No papers to write but have my final exam for the semester in 10 hours' time. Trying to keep up with the score in between last minute study cramming. Hope Mahela gets another 100 and we bat England out of the game. As for the weather, it's pitch dark here at 2am but there's a foot of snow outside and the temperature is hovering around 0"
Pumudu, Windsor, Canada, in the TMS inbox

"Simon Hughes the analyst is wrong to say 'bowl flatter'. I agree Panesar needs to bowl maidens, but not flat. He should be allowed to bowl and not be restricted. This is the exact problem with English spinners. Everybody starts seeing them as one who restricts runs. I agree he has to get more control, but not by bowling defensively. That defeats the purpose"
Nik, USA, in the TMS inbox

"Devon Malcolm appeared recently on the UK quiz show The Weakest Link - he didn't win the show - but survived several elimination rounds!"
Liam Thomson, Tokyo, in the TMS inbox

"With regards to Gladstone Small, he played for the England team that won a beach cricket tournament in Australia last January!"
David in the TMS inbox

"Thank you for such wonderful commentary, first time using the BBC live cricket coverage, brightens up a cold dark morning here in Germany. Keep it up and Merry Christmas to everyone"
Richard Evans in the TMS inbox
[And a merry Christmas to all of you - MM]


0704: Right, time for a break - back soon.

0702: SL 211-4 (75 overs)
Another well-placed off-drive brings Dilshan a single off Hoggy. He's suddenly got 41. Jayawardene guides a single to mid-on. Hoggy tries another off-cutter which is biffed between cover and mid-off for four by Dilshan. Is he trying to reach 50 before lunch? He tries to hook the last ball, but fails to make contact - he reaches 45 at the interval, with his captain on 71.

"Here in Seattle we have had our first fall of snow already, and the skiing season is truly upon us. Let's hope the boys can steal a win here, something to cheer us for Christmas. I may be 4500 miles from Maidstone this week, but Cricket is always one bookmark click away"
Douglas, Seattle, WA, USA, in the TMS inbox

0658: SL 205-4 (74 overs)
Dilshan drives Colly and it beats the ring of off-side fielders, and the cover boundary sweeper is the unlikely figure of Monty P, who returns the ball quickly as they run a single. We should have just one more over before lunch.

Angus Fraser
"By modern standards, England are a pretty substandard fielding side"
Former Middlesex and England seamer Angus Fraser on TMS

"To Matt in Brisbane: Agree on your sentiments about Christmas in Brisbane. It's oppressive, limp and not a patch on Blighty. On the other hand its beats trudging up the M4/M5 to support Newport County versus some Midlands team, and getting a drubbing. Still overcast here, come on England (and Wales in this case)"
Mark, Brisbane, in the TMS inbox

0655: DROPPED CATCH - SL 204-4 (73 overs)
Monty's off and Hoggard has changed ends. Jayawardene takes a single, before Dilshan clubs one towards the chanting and clapping Barmy Army members on the cover boundary, and they run a single which brings up Sri Lanka's 200. Yet another edge by Jayawardene... but this time it goes between keeper Prior and first slip Bell. It definitely carried - Prior seems to change his mind and take his hand away at the last minute, but he should have gone for it as it wouldn't have carried to Bell. To add insult to injury, the ball sails away for four.

0649: SL 198-4 (72 overs)
Colly is indeed thrown the ball, while Bopara walks off the field clutching his hand and Anderson comes on for another sub-fielding stint. Colly bowled a maiden in his only over yesterday, but Dilshan guides his first ball away for two and dabs the next one through third man for four.

"Good to see Sidebottom, having started his Test career promisingly, now becoming inconsistent. It certainly seems to be the favoured approach to establishing a place in the England side"
Dave, Cumbria, in the TMS inbox

"In response to 'Sleepless in South Lancashire' and his question about Steve Harmison... and your response about his brother. The family has quite a sporting tradition. His uncle Mel Harmison played for the Bedlington Terriers team that once reached the third round of the FA Cup only to lose to Blackpool (1997 I think it was)"
David in Sydney in the TMS inbox

0644: SL 192-4 (71 overs)
Paul Collingwood is seen warming up - might there be time for a pre-interval trundle from the Durham man? Jayawardene and Dilshan exchange singles off a rapid over from the Montster, while Bopara waves to the dressing-room - does he want physio treatment on his hand?

0641: SL 190-4 (70 overs)
Hoggy is bowling to a 6-3 off-side field for Jayawardene, including two slips and a gully. Jayawardene pushes a single to deep point - he now has 64, but has only scored 13 runs in over an hour's play today. Dilshan off-drives but a very good long-barrier stop from the Montster prevents a run. In an age where the "long barrier" seems a thing of the past and so many needless runs are conceded through its non-use, I salute Mr Panesar for his dedication to the cause. Bopara then dives to stop a fierce drive at cover - it looks like his hand really stings, so he swaps positions with Pietersen and goes out into the deep for a rest while he sucks his fingertips. One run from the over - thanks to Panesar's and Bopara's fielding, mind you.

"Meant to be getting some kip as I'm flying home for Christmas later today. But the combined excitement of Live Text and the prospect of actually being able to listen to TMS when I get home is keeping me awake. Like a hopeful child on Christmas Eve! Come on England, for once ignore the script and pull something out the bag. Stand up Harmy and Monty... and Pietersen...ny"
Anatol, New York, in the TMS inbox

0636: SL 189-4 (69 overs)
Monty bowls one that's far too short at Jayawardene, but he's really in his shell now and can't get him away. He finally opens the face and guides one past slip for a single. Just one run from the over - about 25 minutes until lunch now.

"So grateful for TMS. Sitting on the wrong side of the Atlantic, and the wrong side of the evening, and working through the night (as I shall be tomorrow). In the spirit of Scott, does anyone have input on the Universals of Consonant Clusters? Much obliged. Point of interest: Yale is one of the few US universities with a cricket team. Keep up the good work - it's a long time til sunrise..."
Harry Guinness in the TMS inbox

0634: SL 188-4 (68 overs)
Hoggy beats Dilshan with an absolutely marvellous delivery, a sort of fast off-break that cuts back and sails straight through the gate as Dilshan tries to play forward. He eventually times one, hitting it hard through extra cover for four. Another fierce off-drive is cracked past mid-off for another boundary - that's the fifty partnership.

Text in your views on 81111
"A car alarm going on and off all night means im up reading this, or maybe I just wanted to be up at 5am!"
Mark Cols, Shefford, via text on 81111

Simon Hughes
"Panesar has to bowl maidens today - he has to bowl flatter, with men in the ring on the off-side to try and force a wicket. If he persists with short legs and silly points, they'll just cut him"
Simon Hughes, aka "The Analyst", on TMS

Monty Panesar
0629: SL 180-4 (67 overs)
Sidey and Vaughan are back on the field, but it's a double bowling change as Harmy takes a rest and Monty Panesar comes on, to a big cheer from the England supporters. He has a slip and a silly point, and a Reasonably Short Extra Cover. Dilshan immediately sweeps the Montster for two to long leg, and pinches the strike with a single.

Matthew Hoggard
0626: SL 177-4 (66 overs)
It's Hoggy time - Matthew Hoggard replaces Harmison, who yielded just 11 runs in a tidy five-over spell this morning (including four from that dumb Vaughan overthrow). Vaughan and Sidey are both off the field, so Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson are on for some sub-fielding. Jayawardene tries to tickle one outside off-stump which bounces just in front of Bell at first slip, although Bell can't hold the chance anyway. Not the first time in the series it's bounced in front of him - is he standing too deep? A much better shot from Jayawardene guides a four through extra cover.

"Listening in from Wellington New Zealand on the internet, unfortunately no sitting on my deck tonight (7pm) sipping Bourbon & Coke, overcast here as well... must be catching! So will have to do with a cup of tea and digestive... by the way what ever happened to Gladstone Small, haven't heard much from him over the past few years... nor Devon Malcolm?"
Keith Block, Wellington, in the TMS inbox
[I saw Gladstone Small outside the SCG in January - he was there with an England fans' tour group who were waiting for a coach after the game - MM]

0616: SL 173-4 (65 overs)
Sidey is still bowling a pretty good length against Jayawardene, who has now faced 73 balls since his last boundary. The wild-haired Notts swinger allows a rueful smile to cross his face as Jayawardene plays and misses, the ball just missing his outside edge. The skipper nods back in a mutual show of respect. Just a single is taken, off the last ball. Time for a drinks break - the drinks trolley is accompanied by England reserves Broad, Swann and Anderson.

"No essays to write here. Just watching Scooby Doo on TV and cricket on computer"
Steve, Windy Greece, in the TMS inbox
[And England would have got away with it, if it wasn't for those pesky dropped catches - MM]

Simon Hughes
"You wouldn't be surprised if it rained here in the next couple of hours"
Simon Hughes, aka "The Analyst", on TMS

0611: SL 172-4 (64 overs)
The bearded Harmy, still bowling round the wicket, oversteps for the first no-ball of the innings, while Simon Hughes regales TMS listeners with the story of how some comedy fielding from Phil Tufnell once allowed eight runs to be conceded off one ball. (It involved a ball being thrown in and hitting an unguarded short-leg helmet after they'd run three). Jayawardene pinches the strike when he dabs a single to midwicket.

"Even though it is only the second day it feels like a draw is on the cards. As for the weather, cold and crisp and dark here in Turkey. Snow later"
OSJ, Ankara, in the TMS inbox

0606: SL 170-4 (63 overs)
Jayawardene delicately guides Sidey down to third man where he's denied a boundary by Bopara's athletic stop but they run three anyway. Prior makes another athletic legside take as the pitch still appears to have some life in it.

0601: SL 167-4 (62 overs)
Dilshan is naturally an aggressive player, having played 131 ODIs but just 42 Tests. He plays the ball to mid-on where Vaughan, utterly needlessly, flings the ball back to the striker's end and it flies away for four overthrows - to the condemnation of the TMS team. Harmy won't like that dent in his figures either - although that's the only scoring stroke from the over, as Harmy goes round the wicket for the last ball.

0556: SL 163-4 (61 overs)
Sidey is very lucky not to be charged with a wide as Prior takes the first ball in front of first slip. But Jayawardene remains cautious and a maiden ensues.

"Used to live in Bristol, does that qualify? But in LA now, where it is actually raining today for once, believe me we need it! Love to think we'll bowl them out for 250 but then I've been an England supporter for all my 54 years, so..."
Chris David in the TMS inbox

0552: SL 163-4 (60 overs)
Harmison lets fly with an aerial wide, which sails away for four as first slip Bell does the chasing. Keeper and BBC Sport columnist Prior then concedes the first bye of the innings as Jayawardene jogs through. A sprawling stop by Ravi Bopara denies Dilshan a run.

0546: SL 158-4 (59 overs)
At lunchtime today, Aggers will be talking on TMS to a couple of members of the Harrow school team who were on this ground when the tsunami struck three years ago. Dilshan carves Sidey past the second of the two gullies with a square-driven four, before nudging a single off his hip to square leg.

"In reply to Scott, The Cori Tap unfortunately does not show cricket. I happen to be fortunate enough to live a couple of minutes away from this pub and rest assured, after sampling some of the 15% tipples they offer, getting home in one piece takes priority over cricket"
John in Bristol in the TMS inbox
[Other pubs are of course available - MM]

0542: SL 153-4 (58 overs)
Prior makes a smart legside stop that earns him a little clap from Harmy. Aggers senses there may still be rain in the air. Jayawardene is fairly watchful, playing out a maiden from Harmy, and then a group of groundsmen come out with a sack of sawdust for running repairs on Sidey's footmarks.

"Scott in Bristol, the fact that as a major academic 'authority' on matters of criminological research I choose to publish my important insights in a slightly less traditional form does sure not surely make them less acceptable. BBC Live Text should be accepted by your tutors as the high quality, worldwide, peer-reviewed online academic journal that it is. Let me know if you want me to talk to your lecturing staf on this matter. 'Epistemological' means 'about how we know stuff' by the way"
Paul in Lancs in the TMS inbox

0538: DROPPED CATCH - SL 153-4 (57 overs)
Ryan Sidebottom takes up the attack, slanting the first ball across Jayawardene who offers no stroke. Umpire Asad Rauf mutters into his walkie-talkie about something, holding play up for a few seconds, while Aggers on TMS notices a pink coach with white stripes encircling the ground. After Jayawardene nudges a single, Dilshan slashes one to gully where Cook dives to his right, gets both hands to it but can't hold on. You have to say that was catchable. Sidey then strays down the leg side and Dilshan helps it down there for four. That brings the 150 up.

"Monty to tear into the middle order and set it up for us! Or is that wishful thinking! Seeing as we are doing the weather round-up from around the world, like Sydney it's over cast here in Cyprus"
Percy Purcell, from the RAF Suppliers at RAF Akrotiri, in the TMS inbox

0533: SL 148-4 (56 overs)
...and we're under way, with R4 LW listeners jumping back on board. Steve Harmison takes the first over, having bowled unchanged from that end for a five-over spell before the end yesterday. He's bowling to Mahela Jayawardene, who lets the first couple of balls go through as he shoulders arms, before steering the first single of the day through cover. Harmy's getting a bit of early bounce.

0528: England's fielders emerge for their "huddle", followed by the Sri Lanka batsmen. We look all set for some action here...

"I have a two-litre thermos flask of coffee next to computer. Probably should have gone to bed rather than stay up ready for a 4.30 start but never mind. Now if anyone has some brandy to put in said thermos that would be appreciated"
Grant Simpson, Edinburgh, in the TMS inbox

"It's overcast here in Hong Kong and no essays to write at all"
David Stanton in the TMS inbox

Christopher Martin-Jenkins
0521: CMJ's watch is 10 minutes fast, but Radio 4 LW listeners are thrown overboard for the Shipping Forecast. But as ever, TMS continues on Five Live Sports Extra, and via the BBC Sport website.

0516: A team photograph is taking place to commemorate the return of cricket to Galle. Both teams are there, along with coaches, trainers, and various ECB apparatchiks such as chairman Giles Clarke and chief executive David Collier. "If this was Channel 9 in Australia, they'd be selling pictures of this by sundown", says CMJ on TMS.

The BBC Sport website
"To Paul in Lancs. I very much appreciate your input, but unfortunately there are too many large words in there for me to understand and my tutors will undoubtedly guess that I have copied off the BBC Sport website, which I don't think is an acceptable resource/reference point. Once again, many thanks, but unfortunately I may have to go this one alone. And to everyone in Bristol, anyone know what time the Cori Tap opens, and will they be showing cricket?"
Scott, Bristol, in the TMS inbox

"C'mon Harmy! I've finished all my uni work but i've still got up to cheer the boys on - Let's give 'em some chin music and get 'em out cheaply! Who wants a coffee?"
John in Bristol in the TMS inbox

Christopher Martin-Jenkins
"In my view, Kevin Pietersen can't yet be called a truly great player - although he has the potential to be one"
Christopher Martin-Jenkins on TMS

"I am also looking forward to the start of play! Also, apologies to those in the UK, the sun is shining in Melbourne! Sorry Andy in Sydney!"
Phil in Melbourne in the TMS inbox
[Hope Christmas is sunnier for you in Melbourne than it was when I was there last year for the Test - I was told it was the wettest Christmas Day in Melbourne for 20 years! MM]

"I expect the lads to bowl out the side with Jayawardene stuck in the nervous 90s. I slept all of yesterday to get up to follow the cricket... typical that it rains overnight there. Plus I'm going home tomorrow! I predict a KP riot"
Steven, from Bristol, in Reading, in the TMS inbox

"My wife is now a converted cricket lover but still has problems with the finer nuances, like 'How can I tell who is in if they are all dressed in white'?"
Roadmanjohn from a sunny Muscat on Eid holiday
[Or, like in this year's Friends Provident Trophy final at Lord's, where both teams were dressed in nearly identical coloured clothing - MM]

"Scott in Bristol, on the ethical implications of quantification in criminolgical research, I think you could do much worse than refer back to Thomas Kuhn's masterly study of how scientiifc research is necessarily conducted within highly polticised parameters (Struture of Scientific Revoluntions, 1970), and in this context quote Max Weber "From no ethics in the world can it be concluded when and to what extent the ethically good purpose justifies the ethically dangerous means and ramifications (in Gerth and Mill's 1947:121). Paul Hammersley is very good on the epistemological issues underpinnig the distinctions between qualitative and quantitative research"
Paul in Lancs in the TMS inbox

0500: This is a public service announcement - we were supposed to have started play an hour ago, but they are still clearing up the outfield after rain yesterday evening. We'll start at 0530 GMT, and we also have some adjusted session times for you:

  • First session: 1100-1230 local time (0530-0700 GMT)
  • Lunch: 1230-1310 local time (0700-0740 GMT)
  • Second session: 1310-1510 local time (0740-0940 GMT)
  • Tea: 1510-1530 local time (0940-1000 GMT)
  • Final session: 1530-1730 local time (1000-1200 GMT)

However, we've gone off for bad light between 1130 and 1145 GMT on just about every day of the series, so don't expect this day to go the full distance.

0457: In other news from international cricket, Ireland (who had a memorable year with their World Cup display) have named a very youthful winter training squad - with one of my favourite players from their team, Dave Langford-Smith (aka DLS) missing out as he is setting up a painting and decorating business. Good luck, DLS.

"Disappointed with no play, was looking forward to checking up every 15 minutes or so while doing this lovely report. Monty to get a few more wickets I think. Hopefully limit them to under 300, ideally 250 though. Also for those in the UK, take heart, it's overcast in Sydney today"
Andy in Sydney, in the TMS inbox

Mike Selvey
"When I first came here 30 years ago, the buses in Colombo were old red London double-decker buses. One of them I got on even had the destination board up for where I used to go to school"
Mike Selvey on TMS

"They say 'curiosity killed the cat', but since I've got up early especially and there's no play I thought I'd risk it. Why, on your scorecard, is Steve Harmison referred to as 'S Harmison' whereas every other player is just referred to by their surname? Is there another Harmison out there with whom we might get confused (a fearsome fast bowler, perhaps, one-time No 1 in the world, whwho can blow away the opposition at will)? Could the real Harmison please stand up?"
Sleepless in South Lancashire, in the TMS inbox
[I think it's because he has a brother, Ben Harmison, who also plays for Durham. We have to distinguish between the two for the purposes of our stats, in case they play in the same game - MM]

0445: This is a public service announcement. We should have started play at 0400 GMT today, but rain yesterday evening has left ground staff having to clear water off the outfield. After an inspection half-an-hour ago, it was decided we'll start at 0530 GMT while the Super Soppers do their work. In the meantime, stick with us and we'll keep you posted.

"I'm here at work, was looking forward to some good cricket to keep me awake! I think we will knock them down for around 250-275. I predict a big score for Ravi later today (hopefully not too soon)"
Mike, Bristol, in the TMS inbox
[Tons of messages from Bristol today! MM]

Text in your views on 81111
'Morning from Aberystwyth, Mark. I think early wickets are vital in Galle. And a cure for insomnia is vital here! Here's to a Harmy five-for"
Tom McGillicuddy, via text on 81111

"Morning Mark. Gutted play hasn't started on time, I need something to keep me powering on through this essay. Anyone know anything about the ethics of qualitative and quantitative data in relation to criminological research? I don't. Harmy will get a five-for and Monty will get the rest! Come on boys!"
Scott, Bristol, in the TMS inbox

"Sorry Mark, girlfriend away, forgot to go to bed so have stayed up all night, now it's morning, can any dawn raiders getting up for the morning watch tell me when it's unacceptable to open another tinnie?"
Matt, Wide Awake Club, West Yorkshire
[You don't need to apologise to me for your girlfriend being away - people might think things - MM]

Mike Selvey
Jonathan Agnew
"Mike Selvey looks ridiculous - he's wearing a woolly hat and a woolly jumper, and shorts"
"Some of us are tonsorially challenged - the air-con is cold. If I had warm clothes on but no hat, I'd freeze"
Jonathan Agnew and Mike Selvey (former Middlesex and Glamorgan seamer, now cricket correspondent of The Guardian), on TMS

Jonathan Agnew
INSPECTION UPDATE: "Play will start at 1100 local time (0530 GMT). They're only going to get in one hour's play before lunch"
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

Simon Hughes
"One of my favourite sporting mishaps on a video I saw was when England were having a team photo taken in Australia, in the Tony Greig era, when the back row suddenly collapsed and several players fell over"
Former Middlesex and Durham seamer Simon Hughes, aka "The Analyst", on TMS

Angus Fraser
Jonathan Agnew
0417: The inspection is now taking place - by umpires Asad Rauf (wearing a tight pair of shorts) and Daryl Harper (more traditionally dressed in trousers). Aggers on TMS notices Rauf has stamped around in a wet patch deep in the outfield at third man - but considering what's happened to this ground in the last three years, he wonders that if the umpires are worrying about little patches like that in the outfield, we might as well go home. But Angus Fraser makes a good point, pointing out that in this litigation-fuelled era, what if a fielder fell over on unfit ground and was badly injured?

0414: While we wait for the inspection, there's one or other goodies to take a peek at on the BBC Sport website today - such as a Q&A with India's star batsman Sourav Ganguly.

Matthew Hoggard
"My predictions - Hoggard to get four and Panesar to get the other two. Pietersen going on to get a well waited for century after an early England batting collapse"
Dave from the Isle of Sheppey, in the TMS inbox

"Morning Mark, I set my alarm for 0345 only to find play delayed by an hour - do I stay up for an hour or risk going to sleep and not waking up?"
Andrew in Nottingham in the TMS inbox
[Aggers on TMS said it's OK to have an extra hour's sleep if you want, but I'd reset the alarm clock just in case - MM]

Christopher Martin-Jenkins
Jonathan Agnew
"CMJ bought a pair of flip-flops yesterday for about 1.50, which he was showing off to everyone in the hotel. And Sanath Jayasuriya must have set a record, moving to the TV commentary box three days after retiring from Test cricket"
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on TMS

David Hasselhoff
"I am currently sat in my real estate office in Brisbane, trying to sort tickets for the Aussies vs India Boxing Day clash but desperately wishing I was in Galle watching 'my boys' in action. Christmas here in Brisbane is pathetic - too many prawns, too much sunscreen and too many David Hasselhoff impersonators. How I long for a snowball fight, Bristol City, cider and my nan's knitted jumper - well maybe not the jumper eh! Happy days!"
Matt (a long way from Bristol) Brisbane, in the TMS inbox

0406: Several players from both sides have been receiving batting practice on the outfield, including Lasith Malinga who's been slogging a few, while Ravi Bopara has been batting against some gentle throw-downs from England bowling coach Ottis Gibson.

0402: Fear not, seeing as we're here, we will try to keep you entertained while we wait for play to begin. Do get in touch via e-mail ( with "For Mark Mitchener" in the subject line), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word), while 606 will be up and running after 0900 GMT. But we hope to be well under way by then. In the meantime, you can always check out Jonathan Agnew's verdict on Day 1, on the TMS Blog.

"We're going to inspect again at 0945 local time (0415 GMT), with a view to starting at 1030 local time (0500 GMT). But for us to be contemplating play again within an hour is amazing, the staff here have worked very hard, and the Super Soppers are working overtime. But player safety has to be paramount, as someone could slip up and these are athletes earning their livelihoods here"
Umpire Daryl Harper speaks to TMS

Rain delay
0355: The TMS crew are up and running. But Aggers greets listeners with the news that even though it's not raining now, there will be no play for at least an hour because of a downpour last night. Brilliant.

0340: Morning, everyone. Hope you've set your alarm clocks - as we're starting even earlier than normal today, in a bid to make up time lost yesterday morning.

The match situation is that Sri Lanka (having been asked to bat after England won the toss) are 147-4 in thier first innings, with captain Mahela Jayawardene as majestic as ever on 51 not out, and he's been joined by Tillakaratne Dilshan who has seven.

Steve Harmison bowled well to take three wickets yesterday, although day one's "champagne moment" was undoubtedly when Kumar Sangakkara (on 46) mis-hooked to deep backward square leg, and Monty Panesar clung on to the catch.

England in Sri Lanka 2007
28 Sep 07 |  Cricket


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