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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 December 2007, 11:50 GMT
Third Test day three as it happened
Third Test, Galle (day three):
Sri Lanka 499-8 dec v England 81 all out and 2-0

England ended day three of the third Test in Galle needing 416 to avoid an innings defeat to Sri Lanka.

The visiting team were dismissed for a record low Test score against Sri Lanka of 81 and finished 2-0 at the close after one over of their second innings.

Earlier, Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene made a brilliant undefeated 213 as his team declared on 499-8.

England's top order was then ripped out by Chaminda Vaas, who took 4-28, while Paul Collingwood top scored with 29.


By Tom Fordyce

e-mail (with 'For Tom Fordyce' in the subject), text 81111 (start your message with the word "CRICKET") or use 606. Not all contributions can be used.


1157: Eng 2-0
Murali to open the bowling - it's too dark to risk Malinga. They could have opened with Murali's Aunty Viv and still been a threat, the way England have been batting. There's a single apiece to Cook and Vaughan before the light meters come out, the umps confer and the England pair leg it for the padded walls of their dressing-room.

That could be it for the day. Personally, I'm delighted that I got up at 3.15am to come into the office and watch that. More from the Keystone Cops - I beg your pardon, England - at 0400 GMT Friday.

From John Duncan: "Do other nations think it unfair that England get to bowl more overs and have more turns at batting than anyone else?"

1153: Eng 0-0
You can guess from that score that Jaya has enforced the follow-on. There's probably only time for one over before darkness falls - it's been so bad out there even the sun is ashamed to show its face.


1145: WICKET: Panesar run out 0, Eng 81 all out
Out for a duck

What the... calamity upon fresh calamity, and I can't believe what I've just seen. Harmison calls for a crazy run, Monty skips through in a day-dream and stumper Jaya throws down the stumps after an equally rubbish throw. You know, I think that could be the worst batting performance I've ever seen from England. People around me are actually laughing. That was so bad I might call for my own sacking.

From Mark in Derbyshire: "Is there enough time left today for Sri Lanka to claim the extra half-hour and finish the job?"

1142: Eng 81-9
Well, Harmie's not messing about - he's obviously decided to get the 228 runs in boundaries. He inside-edges Murali for four past his own leg stump and then hoicks another off Vaas through square leg.

From Ben in Edinburgh: "Tom, in the spirit of yesterday's festivities, please sing my little song:

When the cricket outside is frightful
And the umpire's being spiteful
We've no more wickets to go
Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain."

1134: WICKET - Hoggard c M Jayawardene b Welegedara 0, Eng 72-9
Out for a duck

Make that "Harmison and Monty need to cobble together a mere 228 runs to avoid the follow-on." Hoggie prods at one slid across him, edges it straight to the skipper at second slip and trudges straight back off again. Chants of, "Are you Zimbabwe in disguise?" echo round the stands. Not really, but they might as well be.

From Joe Ryan, Nantes: "Has anyone checked to see if this is the real England cricket team? Perhaps the true players were kidnapped on their way to Galle and replaced by a bunch on no-hope look-alikes."

1130: WICKET - Collingwood b Welegedara 29, Eng 72-8
Wicket falls

Sigh. The Ginger Battler is the next man back in the hutch. Maybe he'll feel better when he realises he's given Welly his first Test wicket. Maybe not. Harmison, Hoggie and Monty need to cobble together a mere 228 runs to avoid the follow-on. Hmmm.

1127: WICKET - Sidebottom c Dilshan b Murali 11, Eng 70-7
Wicket falls

He can have a think about it back in the dressing-room - Murali's kippered him good and proper. It's the doosra that does the bizzo, cannoning off bat and pad and looping up to Dilshan at short midwicket. A stand of 37, that one.

1121: Eng 70-6
For some reason, Colly's letting Siders help himself to the strike. Not sure what Siders thinks about that.

1115: Eng 67-6
Malinga's gone bouncer-crazy - you'd think the bails were stapled to the bridge of Siders' nose. It's a curly-haired contest of a magnitude that hasn't been seen since Craig Johnston squared up to Terry McDermott in the Liverpool dressing-room in 1982.

From Paul Hannaford: "Here's one for the statisticians. When was the last time that England's 7th wicket partnership DOUBLED the team score?"

1107: Eng 65-6
Debutant paceman Welly canters in from the other end. Colly scampers a single off a no ball before Siders survives a brace of pacey wobblers and edges through the slips for a streaky two. Decent weather overhead - nothing to write home about, but a shortage of clouds and sliver of sunshine.

From Phil Clapp: "When Franco was told on his deathbed of the crowds who had congregated in the square outside the Presidential Palace to say goodbye, he was reported to have asked 'Why? Where are they going?¿"

1058: Eng 61-6
My giddy aunts - Slinga serves up six deliveries so nasty they would have made Dick Dastardly cry. Siders jerks and twitches out of the way of six throat-rippers and tries not to shake too obviously.

1047: Hold those horses - there's another delay. I know, I know. They're telling us 1100 GMT, now, and they're insistent. Stick the kettle on, make yourself a bracing cup-a-soup and we'll be up and running before you know it.

From Daniel Massey: "On the subject of famous last words, my favourite would have to be the immortal words of the great Mexican General 'Pancho' Villa - 'No permitas que esto acabe así. Cuentales que he dicho algo.' This translates as: 'Don't let it end like this. Tell them I have said something.' Think the first part definitely applies to England as well."

The whispers are now solid statements - we'll be re-starting in 11 minutes time. Hold on to your seats - Ryan Sidebottom's not out on seven.

From Matthew Hudson: "Voltaire was generally a fairly witty chap right until the end. When asked by a priest to renounce Satan he declined, saying: 'Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies.'"

The wicket is now visible - official. Whispers tell us that we might be going again at 1045 GMT. Fingers crossed, depending on whether you want to be put out of your misery or not.

From Chris Smith: "My favourite last words were those of Dominique Bouhours (1628-1702) a French Jesuit grammarian who worked endlessly to promote a high standard of correctness in the French language. On his death-bed he said the words, "Je vais ou je vas mourir, l'un et l'autre se dit ou se disent." ("I am about to - or I am going to - die; either expression is correct.")

Latest news from the middle: the covers are coming off in sodden patches. The groundstaff are going to have a Mark Butchers at the state of the turf underneath and see what's what. I'll keep you posted.

From Craig Vaughan, Edinburgh: "After much Googling, I've managed to find Nelson's final words - which were, "Are you kidding me? 61 for 6?!?"

Brief flurry of excitement in the middle - a small section of cover, the size of a table-tennis table, has just been removed. And then swiftly put back on again.

From Sam Birkett: "He didn't say either 'Kiss me Hardy' or 'Kismet' at all, although it's nice to think so. I think he actually said 'Water, towel, rub, rub', as he was wanting help to help soothe some of the agony he was going through."

From Billyboy in Sutton: "I can't comment, or indeed poo-poo the veracity of Nelson's dying words. It's too early, and I went to see The Pogues last night. However, as an aside to your 'kiss me/kismet' remark, the name for such occurrences in song lyrics is mondegreens - eg Hendrix's 'scuse me, while I kiss this guy'. I don't know why I've brought this up."

The official close of play in Galle is midday, in case you're planning out the best usage of the next few hours of your life. If nothing's happened by 1100 GMT, however, I reckon they'll sack it off for the day.

From Ian Perry: "There are plenty of versions of what Nelson said, but either way, it's pretty certain that Hardy heard 'Kiss me' , because he did kiss Nelson on deck. They took Nelson;s body home in a barrel of brandy to preserve it - what would that have tasted like?"

Still plenty of beavering going on on the sodden covers. I'd be amazed if we get going again within the hour, between you and me.

From Alan Pottage: "I agree with Woody on the subject of Italian coaches. How about those of Australian extraction - Alan Bordello, Shane Warnello or Rodney Marshmello?"

From Neil Rudd in Barnstaple: "What do the England cricketers want for Christmas? A better fairy godmother so they don't keep missing the ball?"

Still huge puddles on the outfield covers. You could have a decent re-enactment of the Battle of Trafalgar out there. Talking of which, a pal of mine told me that Nelson's famous line, "Kiss me, Hardy" was a historical inaccuracy. Apparently he actually said, "Kismet,", which is Turkish for "fate". In other words, the old sailor was spelling out the irony of popping his clogs at the exact moment of his greatest triumph.

Any history teachers/students out there want to verify/poo-poo that for us?

From Ferdinando, Naples: "If you want an Italian coach, you may be interested in Joe Scudieri, who is captain and coach of the Italian cricket team. They did not quite win the World Cup, but last March they lost honourably to Jersey by only 8 wickets."

From Stuart in Liverpool: "Ugh! If I am ever voted into power it will be legal and in fact compulsory to just pull the duvet over your head and stay in bed when you wake up to this sort of news from the cricket. Vote Stuey!"

This doesn't look good - it's stopped raining. There's about 100 chaps splashing about in the puddles on the covers, some of them with foam up-soakers. No play imminent, I'd say.

From Rob Kidgell: "Re: contributions on Italian coaches - I have to say that I've never been keen on Italian coaches since I watched The Italian Job. The memory of that Italian coach see-sawing between success and disaster still haunts me."

From Gareth Evans: "Re: what England players want for Christmas - I would think Prior would have asked for a goose. Must be sick of all these ducks by now, surely?"

From Pete in Aberdeenshire: "You can't be serious about 'Serious rain hangs in the air' sounding like an early Simple Minds track. It's got to be Phil Collins or even Sad Cafe."

If you're just logging on, log off sharpish. Unless you're Sri Lankan, Australian or a punishment-glutton. Still raining in Galle, so we might need a little diversion to keep this commentary going. I'll start us off with this: what do you reckon the various England players asked for for Christmas this year? Apart from coaching dvds?

From Roly Pitts, Belgium: "At least there will be no need to test the England side for performance-enhancing drugs."

Serious rain hangs in the air, which sounds a little like a lyric from an early Simple Minds track.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins
"It's raining very hard, and it's going to be a long delay." Christopher Martin-Jenkins, TMS

0806: Eng 61-6
The groundstaff are poised with the covers as Welly squares Colly up with one nipping off the seam. I say poised - they're now hareing across the outfield with an enormous black tarpaulin in tow. Rain now lashing down, and a right old wind coming in too. We could be gone for a while.

0806: Eng 61-6
Siders gropes at Murali's teasers like a defrocked vicar on the sherry. Dark clouds gathering, both metaphorical and meterological.

From Aaro in Espoo, Finland: "To Woody (0747): I have only good things to say about Italian coaches. Our tiny nation's volleyball team was struggling before but when we got an Italian in Mauro Berruto we went to the European Championships semi-final."

0803: Eng 61-6
Welly switches ends and gets busy from the off, whipping one past Colly's flailing outside edge and then whistling one into his pins. There's some rain in the distance. England could do with it setting in for two-and-a-half days.

0752: Eng 59-6
Right - here's the challenge: England need another 89 to beat their lowest ever score against Sri Lanka. The good news is that Malinga is coming off. The bad news is that Murali's coming on.

0747: Eng 55-6
The runs are now flowing. Colly edges through gully for four, and Siders pushes an attempted yorker from Slinga past the bowler's spikes for three more. Crack open the champagne.

From Woody, TMS inbox: "Surely there must be an Italian coach we can bring in to turn around the fortunes of this team?"

0742: Eng 47-6
Here's something else of note - we've just seen the first over in Test cricket from Uda Walawwe Mahim Bandaralage Chanaka Asanka Welegedara. Or 'Welly' to you and me.

0735: Eng 41-6
On the England balcony, coach Peter Moores looks like he's just swallowed a bar of soap. Out in the middle, Ryan Sidebottom peers out at Vaas and drops a shaky bat on the darting cherry to edge one through the slips. Vaas's figures so far: 4-19 off seven overs. Earlier on he made 90 rapid runs. He could beat England by himself.

0725: WICKET - Prior b Vaas 4, Eng 33-6
Wicket falls

I'm not making this up. I'm not that cruel. Prior prods weakly at a straight one that stays a fraction low, and his timbers collapse like pick-up sticks. Prior smiles as he slopes off. I'd like to say ruefully.

From Andrew Gell, Teddington: "With the game so evenly poised, it would be a real shame if rain was to ruin this contest now."

0725: Eng 29-5
Hold on - what's this? Is that rain in the air? Colly slaps a short one from Malinga through the covers and looks hopefully up at the heavens.

From Damian Brown, Wellington: "Cheer up, Poms - at least you're not saddled with the New Zealand cricket team. I just witnessed another obliteration at the hands of the Australians. Our captain still looks about 15 years old."

0718: WICKET - Bopara c Welegedara b Vaas 0, Eng 25-5
Out for a duck

Before the over began, I started typing a sentence that started, "What fresh horrors will the morning bring?" The answer comes three balls into Vaas's first over - Ravi B lofts a woeful punt in a gentle arc straight down mid-on's craw. Still, not to worry - only another 275 to avoid the follow-on. The entire England team, batting twice, might score less than Jayawardene did in one knock. One unbeaten knock.

From Dan Pearson, TMS inbox: "Gday Tom. Is it time England got an Aussie back in again? You seem to be slipping down the world rankings with a bowling/batting line up that's as dangerous as an empty water pistol."

Dan - you get me Martin McCague's mobile number, and we'll make this happen. Or Jason Gallian. Whatever.

0632: Eng 24-4 - LUNCH
If I had a graphic of a white flag, I'd run it up this commentary's flag-pole without furthur ado. Amusingly, Ravi Bopara and Paul Collingwood punch gloves as they walk off for lunch. What would they do if England were actually in a half-decent position - lie down and get busy in the middle of the pitch?

From Dominic Mattock, TMS inbox: "It's about 30 degrees and 2.35pm in Manila, I've only just managed to log on and wish I hadn't. On top of one the boys' more spectacular capitulations, we've got you telling us sob stories about your working conditions. Get a grip Forders."

There's more to come, Matters. Wait till Murali comes in and my 3.20am double-espresso wears off.

0627: WICKET: Pietersen c P Jayawardene b Malinga 1, Eng 22-4
Wicket falls

The thing I like about watching England is that, just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. Malinga produces a ball so brutal it's probably banned under the Geneva Convention, almost decapitating the leaping KP and instead biting the glove before smacking into the stumper's palms. No blame to the batsman there - that would have dismissed the love-child of WG Grace and Don Bradman.

0625: WICKET: Cook c P Jayawardene b Vaas 13, Eng 22-3
Wicket falls

What the... Cookie pokes at a teasing away-wobbler, there's a screamed appeal and Umpo Asad Rauf points skywards. Cookie staggers off, shaking his head, and I might do the same.

From Alex in Bordeaux: "I was relying on the cricket to keep me relatively upbeat and optimistic while writing my essay. However now I'm writing my essay to stave of the depression caused by the cricket."

0617: Eng 17-2
Whoosh - Malinga booms one halfway down the pitch, Cookie leaps like an electrocuted fawn and the ball disappears down to the ropes for four byes. Another throat-ripper is dabbed away through the slips for a streaky four. KP's twitching down the other end.

0610: WICKET: Bell run out 1, Eng 9-2
Wicket falls

Dear oh dear. And another dear. Cookie pushes straight to Dilshan at cover, gives Belly the old yes-no routine and watches aghast as the fielder gathers, throws, and splinters the stumps at the other end with a direct hit. England aren't so much on the ropes as falling through them. Anyone doing anything for lunch?

0605: Eng 9-1
Bell to the crease to join Cookie. England's baby-faced pair have a rampaging Malinga ready to crush their toes at one end, and Chaminda waving it around on a string at the other.

0600: WICKET - Vaughan lbw Vaas 1, Eng 5-1
Wicket falls

Here's the good news - England are now just 295 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on. The bad news: Skip's just shouldered arms to a vicious in-dipper and been trapped so plumb in front that he nearly became the first batsman in history to walk on an lbw decision.

0553: Eng 4-0
Call me a shameful pessimist, but just in case you need to know, England need 300 to avoid the follow-on. Vaas darts two past Alastair Cook's poker and then goes wide to be dabbed away for the first fence-bouncer of the day.

Innings break

0542: WICKET - Malinga b Collingwood 5, SL 499-8 dec
Wicket falls

A mighty heave-ho from Malinga to Colly's slower wobbler, and it's goodbye stumps, hello long walk off. In fact, that's the declaration - Jaya parks himself high and dry on a majestic 213, off 411 balls, with 25 fours. England are lying prone at the bottom of a steepling mountain.

0531: SL 493-7
He's reached 200

Carumba - that's the way to go to your double-ton - Jaya leans casually into the returning Harmie and mashes him high over extra cover for a lusty four. 406 balls, 23 fours - that's the way to do it. The crowd in Galle go bananas, and quite rightly so. Off comes the lid, up goes the blade, and the whole of southern Sri Lanka seems to be applauding right now. Just in case England had missed his point, Jaya then re-lids and smacks Harmie's next serving for another eye-watering four.

From Cecil Siriwardene, Redondo Beach: "Living as I am in southern California, let me say that I appreciate your sacrifice in getting up at 3am to bring me and others in the world the BBC live text commentary."

Cecil - that single sentence has made it all worthwhile.

0522: SL 477-7
Slinga Malinga is the man at the crease, and he thunders into Hoggie's half-volley, clouting it way over mid-on for a monstrous four. The Hoggler looks ready to eat his own chin in disgust.

From Edd in Antananarivo, Madagascar, TMS inbox: "Morning Tom, had you been in Tana, that would have been a 6am start to the day, the sun was up and it was about 20 degrees. Fancy a BBQ instead of overcooked turkey?"

Are you joking? When I can sit in a cold, dark office in bleak west London, wearing four layers of clothing and with the delights of the BBC canteen to look forward to for breakfast? They've got a special offer on coffee at the moment - it's now just £1.20 a slice (copyright Two Ronnies, 1979)

0515: WICKET - Vaas c Vaughan b Hoggard 90, SL 470-7
Wicket falls

Those tears almost cost him - Vaas swings wildly at Hoggie and skies straight to the skipper jogging in from cover, only for Vaughan to fumble his first effort and only hang on with a desperate clutch near his navel. No second Test ton for Chaminda, but he looks chipper - 11 fours off 133 balls in that loose-shouldered slap-fest.

0510: SL 465-6
Hello - it's Colly o'clock. Jaya greets him with a casual slap back over his head for a two-bouncer of a boundary. This partnership's now worth 177 runs off 266 balls. Is that Michael Vaughan sobbing at square leg?

By the way - if you emailed in a cricketing carol on Wednesday, you might find it featured in the Test Match Special blog today. One lucky listener even had his version of In the Bleak Midwinter sung on air by Simon Hughes. Bonza.

0505: SL 453-6
Hoggie drops short and Vaas top-edges an attempted hoick into his own neck. He removes his lid to poke the damage and reveals a fetching pink bandana tied around his temple. He looks like am old-skool raver at 1989-era Heaven.

From Richard Stevens, TMS inbox: "Did you know an anagram of Monty Panesar's full name, Mudhsuden Singh Panesar, is Spinner Undamaged, Shush? Perhaps Mr and Mrs Panesar should have been a little more careful..."

0459: SL 452-6
Disappointing from Mont - he aims for all-out attack and succeeds only in feeding the Jaya run machine. We've had 12 overs this morno, and Sri Lanka have creamed away 68 runs. Ouch.

0451: SL 439-6
Drinks break out there. England gasping like sea-lions in the Sahara.

From OSJ, Ankara, TMS inbox: "This had better be a good morning session. Hungover and going to stay with the mother-in -aw for the next week, so Monty please cheer me up."

0448: SL 433-6
And it's guten morgen to Monty, as Michael Vaughan rattles desperately through his bowling options. Nice flight from the bucket-handed twirler. Stumper Prior has thick white sun-cream smeared all over his cheeks, possibly to hide his blushes after that head-clutcher of a spill earlier doors.

0440: SL 426-6
Stirred by that escape, Jaya puts pedal to metal and smashes new bowler Hoggie through cover for a four so sumptuous it almost arrives at the boundary on a velvet cushion.

0427: SL 406-6
Dear oh dear. Siders zips one away from Jaya, snicks the willow and Prior fumbles a regulation snag crashing to his right. Siders can't believe it. Neither can I. The chances of Prior getting a Christmas card from the curly-topped seamer are on par with the chances of it snowing in Galle at the tea interval.

From Steve Furnell, TMS inbox: "'Jaya - who's now been batting for 18 consecutive months without being dismissed...' Can you explain this statement please???"

Go with me, Furners. I'm merely alluding the fact that, every time I've tuned in to this series, Jaya's been parked at the crease making happy hay.

0420: SL 403-6
Nice pace and bounce from Harmie, screaming one past Vaas's prodder without tickling the varnish. Another casual pop away from Jaya brings up the 400, and England are being slowly worn away by Sri Lankan sandpaper here. I say here - they're not in Shepherd's Bush, quite sensibly. If you've yet to see dawn break over the A40, you've got another three hours to get here.

0412: SL 395-6
He's reached 150
Siders on for an early wobble from the other end, and Jaya - who's now been batting for 18 consecutive months without being dismissed - pops him away for a couple to bring up his 150.

That's 50
0405: SL 390-6
Good morning to you, wherever you are - unless of course you're somewhere where it's the afternoon, or the evening, in which case I'm a touch jealous. This is the first live text commentary I've done since August, and I can't tell you how happy I am that I've just got up at 3am and come to Shepherd's Bush to do so. Chaminda Vaas thrashes Steve Harmison back over the umpo's scalp for the first lusty boundary of the day, and that's the old stager's half-ton.

England in Sri Lanka 2007
28 Sep 07 |  Cricket


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