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Sri Lanka v England 3rd Test



Third Test, Galle:
Sri Lanka 499-8 dec drew with England 81 all out & 251-6

England drew the final Test against Sri Lanka in Galle with rain coming to their aid but they lost the series 1-0.

Alastair Cook recorded the tourists' first century of the series before heavy rain stopped play for a second time on the final day.

Cook was out for 118 as play ended with England on 251-6.

Earlier, one Muttiah Muralitharan over left England reeling - he had Kevin Pietersen caught and Paul Collingwood stumped before Ravi Bopara was run out.

LATEST ACTION AS IT HAPPENS (ALL TIMES GMT)

By Tom Fordyce

606: DEBATE

e-mail tms@bbc.co.uk (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.

RAIN STOPPED PLAY - MATCH ABANDONED AS DRAW

1017: The official word arrives from on high - it's all over. C'est tout. Fin. The match is over, the tour is over, and so is this commentary. Happy Christmas if you celebrate it, happy Saturday if you don't. See you for the tour to Enn Zed.

1001: Fantastic scenes out in the middle - the water is three inches deep on the covers, and the groundstaff - rather than attempting to mop it up - are taking it in turns doing full-length dives into the puddles. Anyone who doesn't join in is getting shoved over. Not something you see very often at Lord's, to be fair.

From Jill in Australia: "Matt in Cornwall: your wife will be overjoyed that you bought her a present and any time spent wrapping it will be wasted given the speed that she rips it all off. She will be so grateful that you were thinking of her she won't even notice the lack of wrapping. Okay - I lied."

0956: It's smashing it down out there, it really is. Unless they come out in canoes, this one's looking like a draw. England are off one small hook but very much hanging off the bigger one. What an appalling metaphor. I can only apologise.

From Gill: "FAO Matt in Cornwall. No unwrapped presents are NOT acceptable - I am wrapping all my boyfriend's for him but drew the line at wrapping my own. Anway it's raining now so get out that sticky tape and pretty ribbons/bows."

0949: Eng 251-6
Rain in the air again! Ryan Sidebottom's dragged some dark clouds with him on the way out from the pavillion, and we might be off here. Yup - we're off, and the covers are on in the blink of a hummingbird's eye.

From Matt in Cornwall: "I have a quandry. I should be wrapping my wife's Christmas presents but am following the cricket instead. To do both would involve male multi-tasking which, as we all know, is an impossibility. Is it acceptable to give her presents in an unwrapped state? Female advice would be appreciated."

0943: WICKET - Cook c P Jayawardene b Welegedara 118, Eng 250-6

Wicket falls

Two balls after being spilled at first slip by former stumper Sanga, Cookie prods feebly at a replay and is bagged with ease behind the stumps. It was coming, to be fair - since the break the whippersnapper's chutzpah had run dry. 285 balls and 12 fours in the knock.

0940: Eng 248-5
Prior's used up at least eight lives now. He edges Murali low to Jaya at first slip, looks to have bought it but is miraculously reprieved when Umps Rauf decides the ball hit the deck. Jaya's furious. Prior then plays and misses at two more and is a grasshopper's leg away from being lbw.

From Tony Buckle: "Sitting in the barbers in Zurich. Santa has just driven past in a tram."

0935: Eng 246-5
Huge screams from the slavering fielders as Prior steps back to Murali, misses a ball spinning like a roulette wheel and is struck on the knee roll. Umpo Rauf twitches his right hand and then keeps it down. Gulperama.

0930: Eng 246-5
Maiden from Vaas. More from the England dressing-room - Paul Collingwood is trying to draw on the back of James Anderson's neck with a black marker pen without him realising. KP is watching on with interest.

From John Starbuck, West Yorkshire: "Tom - what do you want Santa to bring you for next year, cricket-wise?"

Good question, John. Having spent the last hour walking round my desk, practising my square cut with a rolled-up magazine and repeatedly trying to roll my wrists over a ball that doesn't even exist, I'd be quite happy for Santa to lead me quietly away to a darkened room.

0923: Eng 246-5
Cook to 113 with a back-foot slap through point off The Murgician. On the England balcony, Michael Vaughan is glugging a Red Bull while Peter Moores yaps in his ear. Moores doesn't seem to be taking the hint.

0915: Eng 239-5
And there we go - we're off again. Incroiable. Malinga, wearing a fetching black headband, canters in to Centurion Cook. England a mere 179 runs behind. Lord I'm tired. Three successive 3am starts have bled me of finger-strength, joie de vivre and the ability to keep both eyelids up at the same time.

From Steve: "Sitting here on duty at Customs in Christchurch airport. Getting abuse from the Kiwis here who have finally twigged that there is a worse team out there than them... sigh."

0855: Incredibly, we'll be off again at 0915 GMT. And they reckon we've lost a mere three overs, since the players tucked into tea during the deluge. All of which means that England might have to survive around 35 overs. Well I never.

0840: More than that, the covers are coming off. We're going to get more play here, you know. England are so bad they can't even get a match abandoned properly any more.

From Richard Atkinson: "The Apocalypse Now reference is spot-on but Anthony Walton is wrong on one count: it was Robert Duvall who loved the smell of linseed oil in the morning."

0829: To be fair, he might have been right. The rain's easing off. Is there no end to this torture?

0822: An optimist has just told me that it's brightening up. He probably thinks England can still win this, too.

0816:This could be it, you know. Cookie's perched on 107, Prior on 18, and the rain is coming down in brick-sized bites.

0810: Eng 236-5
Pitch black overhead, and here comes the rain. They're off! My chocolate coins live to shine another day. The covers are hauled on, and the players sprint for the underneath of the nearest roof.

0806: Eng 230-5
Did I say ten minutes? I meant 20.

From Philip Sheard: "Scrabble is very popular in France. Having words like zinq and coq helps."

0800: Eng 230-5
Without wanting to come over all Mary Shelley, a heavy darkness is gathering. If it's not raining here within ten minutes, I'll give each of you a chocolate coin. As long as I get a stash from Father Christmas as per usual, that is.

0755: Eng 229-5
Vaas seizes the sparkling cherry and baffles Prior utterly with three now-you-see-them, now-you-don'ts. Groundstaff are gathering by their covers, and the clouds are now ominous.

From Martin Peters: "Re French Cricket - Wikipedia says: 'Suggested possibilities include juxtaposition with the English origin of regular cricket. It seems likely that as the game is a lesser version on regular cricket that the name is intended to mock both the game and the French. The name may also have arisen from the similarity of the batting motion to the one used in croquet which while not a French game is sometimes assumed to be French because of its name.'"

0749: Eng 229-5
Now then. There's a few dark clouds building out over the sea. The new ball's also available. It's all happening...

From Anthony Walton: "I once knew someone who was on a rainy holiday in France. They were so bored they bought a French Scrabble set. This led to them uttering the imortal words, 'Have you ever tried to play Scrabble with French letters - it's really difficult...'"

0743: Eng 228-5
Prior's going so far back now he might as well take guard behind the timbers. He gambles on the final ball of Murali's over and takes a forward pace to thrash it to the vacant cover boundary. Wince from Murali.

0736: Eng 220-5
Chamara Silva on for a twirl with his gentle leggies. After a couple of dibblies he serves up a face-high full toss which Prior swats away like Pete Sampras at the net. Any idea how French Cricket got its name? Are the beaches of Biarritz solid with eager youngsters underarming tennis balls at each others' shins?

0730: Eng 216-5
Prior's going further and further back against Murali, shovelling the ball off his pads as if he were playing French Cricket. Now there's a decent beach game. Cook's ton, of course, is the first by an England player in this series. Shaking of head.

0724: Eng 208-5

He's reached 100

A tickle to leg from Cookie, and that's his seventh Test ton in the bag. Excellent boy-on-burning-deck action from a man who isn't 23 until Christmas Day - 11 fours and 228 balls in the knock, and the forlorn England players rise to their feet on the balcony and put fin to fin.

0720: Eng 205-5
Prior stays firm against a full set of Murali's teasers. Zero sign of rain, and trumpets and drums honk and clatter around the ground.

From Martin Peters: "If you liken the England team to a sort of reverse Harlem Globetrotters of cricket, ie providing fun and laughter but while playing badly, then life isn't so grim after all."

0715: Eng 204-5
Right - here we go again. What will the England team's Random Emotion Generator spew out in this session? In bright sunshine, Cook and Prior jog singles off the bouncy-haired Malinga.

From Anthony Walton: "Re: the heavy scent of victory in their nostrils - as Dennis Hopper might say; 'I love the smell of linseed oil in the morning... smells like victory!'"

0630: LUNCH - Eng 202-5
If you can stomach anything after that last desperate frenzy, you've a stronger constitution than me. Latest new man Prior hangs on in Murali's final over before the break in the fashion of a cartoon character snagged on a stray branch after falling off a cliff. That's lunch, and Sri Lanka will tuck in with the heady scent of victory in their nostrils.

From Peter Yarranton: "Might I suggest match-fixing?"

0620: Eng 200-5
Just to re-cap, England just lost three wickets in four balls, all three of them to shots so poor it physically hurts to recall them. Cook almost joins the departed back in the hutch with a panicked waft at Slinga's rapido. Heavy sigh.

From Tim Beale, Lima airport: "OK - so it's not so boring now."

0614: WICKET - Bopara run out 0, Eng 200-5

Out for a duck

I'm not joking. I'm really not. Bopara edges his first ball to slip, takes a shaking-legged pace down the pitch and is stranded like a flapping salmon as Jaya's flick back beats him all ends up. Three wickets in a single over, and a pair for Ravi B. That's the great thing about watching England - joyful surprise after joyful surprise.

0612: WICKET - Collingwood st P Jayawardene b Muralitharan 0, Eng 200-4

Out for a duck

Here we go again - after surviving a single delivery, Colly is teased down the track by a mesmerising marvel from Murali. Bamboozled by a doozy of a doosra and with his back foot halfway to Colombo, he's stumped by a mile. On the England balcony, Michael Vaughan looks sick.

0610: WICKET - Pietersen c M Jayawardene b Muralitharan 30, Eng 200-3

Wicket falls

Uh-oh - KP tries a reckless joust against a big twirler and pops it straight into skipper's palms at short mid on. Murali's ecstatic - he'd been planning that one for a while - but KP's so furious he might eat his own bat.

0604: Eng 200-2
Stumper Jaya, distracted by a Cook waft, misses Murali's doosra and lets four byes zip twixt his pads. Cook gives KP a look that says, "They all count..."

From Dan Beard from a cold, dark N. Essex: "Having just arrived back in the UK from Singapore I lie here, completely unable to sleep, as my body still believes it is lunchtime. So, even though the pace of play is slower than a KP off-break I await your every word to keep myself from going mad..."

Which bit of north Essex, Dan? Saffron Walden? Thaxted? Ugley?

0556: Eng 192-2
Even when he's not scoring big runs, KP drapes himself in drama. He dives like Bert Trautmann for the non-striker's end after a brisk single and gets up smeared in dust. He then discovers an issue with his bat handle grip, calls Phil Mustard on to administer a fresh one and then disdainfully tosses the old one into the outfield. He looks surprised not to see anyone dashing on to pick it up.

From Tim Beale: "I'm sitting in Lima airport waiting for a flight to Los Angeles, to join my family for the Crimble celebrations. Thought I'd just check out the cricket on my BBerry to relieve the boredom - only to find the cricket is equally boring. Meditating sloth indeed. Any other suggestions as to what I can do?"

0551: Eng 185-2
Slinga replaces Chaminda, drops short and gets creamed away by a tip-toed Cook through cover for four. 92 now. I'm saying nothing.

0545: Eng 181-2
88 now from Cook, who's batting with the patience of a meditating sloth.

From J-L in Pordenone, Italy: "Surely Matt Prior would be Little Miss Chatterbox?"

0539: Eng 180-2
Bouncer from Vaas to KP, followed by a full toss that the glamourpuss fails to put away. Simmering anger from the big man.

0533: Eng 178-2
86 now for Cook, flipping away with wristly nonchalance for a sleepy single.

From Robbie Roffe: "I've just returned from a night out in Middlesbrough, unscathed thank the good Lord, to hear of England losing an early wicket. Siggghh. Is there really anyone around at this time, excluding such people like myself returning from nights out? Am also interested to hear if anyone else refers to this Friday, i.e the last one before Christmas, as 'Black-eye' Friday, or is it just a northern thing?"

0527: Eng 176-2
Streaky from El Cooki, slashing at Murali and edging down to third man for a brace. Murali wipes his hand on the pitch and grins like a peckish wolf.

From Kristian Omell: "Monty Panesar - Mr Clumsy. Kevin Pietersen - Mr Bounce."

0522: Eng 170-2
Cook inches to 82 with a nudge off Murali. All very quiet out there, which is bad news for anyone trying to type coherently after three hours' patchy snooze.

From Asif in Gillingham: "Mr Tickle Arms? Try coming up with a Mr Men equivalent of each England player."

0516: Eng 169-2
Chaminda V on for a wobble, and he's coming off half his usual run-up for a change. I know how he feels.

From Dave in Virginia: "I'm seeing a pattern here, Tom. Dark-eyed, wide-eyed, calm-eyed and flinty-eyed. I'm waiting eagerly for bleary-eyed, cock-eyed and pie-eyed. No - scratch that last one. Freddie's not playing."

I can do almost shut-eyed, Dave - when the alarm went at 3am this morning I felt so sleep-deprived I almost started a fight with my bedroom door. You should have seen the way it was looking at me - unnecessarily aggressive. Asking for it, it was.

0510: Eng 166-2
No mockers-inducing chat from me today about how well-set an England opener is looking, merely a straight-faced report of Cook's crack to the deep square leg boundary as Murali drops a tad short.

From Philip Harrison: "Lying in a hotel room near Lyon (en route to the Alps for Xmas), can't sleep.. Counting sheep didn't work. Tried reliving a cricket innings (first ball bowled - forward defensive, second ball bowled etc). But picked England's first innings, all too soon Monty arrived at the crease then departed. Could you ask the viewers/readers if they have any other sleeping tips, or should I move on to the Sri Lankans first innings?"

0505: Eng 158-2
Still sunny up ahead - not the scorching blaze of earlier on, but nothing to cause a chap to unsheath his brolly. Unflashy toil from the tourists.

0459: Eng 154-2
The deficit drops to a mere 264 as KP and Cook work flinty-eyed singles from the goatee-chinned Murali.

0452: Eng 149-2
Calm-eyed casual singles to the England pair from Welly before the umpos wave on the drinks trolley.

From Ahmed Bashe in Somalia: "It's a delightful 29C here with a warm sun right up ahead, although I wouldn't mind exchanging it for the potential rain that might be inflicted on the poor ground of Galle."

0445: Eng 145-2
Murali twirls in dervish fashion and the wide-eyed Cook uses his Mr Tickle arms to reach out and smother. 70 not out for the dark-eyed opener.

0440: Eng 139-2
Here comes KP, marching to the crease like a determined peacock. Welegedara angles in to him and gets a thick outside edge which dribbles away to third man for a streaky four. That's 3,000 Test runs for KP, at joint quickest-ever rate for an England player. Herbert Sutcliffe's the other speedy-pants.

0432: WICKET - Bell b Muralitharan 34, Eng 128-2

Wicket falls

Crash bang wallop - there goes the first one... Bell goes back to a Murali floater, the ball shoots through at ankle height and the timbers tumbled. Grimace from Bell, whoops from the twirler. Not much Bell could do about that one.

0424: Eng 119-1
Cheeky from Slinga - a devilish slower yorker followed by one at double-express pace. Bell keeps them out with desperate toe-end defence and then pats himself on the head. On the England balcony, Steve Harmison is playing a well-known brand of computer game, his concentration immense.

0418: Eng 119-1
This time Cook gets a morsel more meat on his glance, and picks up a racey four to fine leg from Slinga. England's deficit drops below 300. Break out the bunting.

0412: Eng 111-1
Whoosh - there's the first big escape of the day - Cook gets a delicate feather on a Malinga ripper down leg, only for Jaya behind the timbers to spill a pouch his mother could have taken with her eyes shut. Anguished bellow from slinga, gulps from Cookie.

0405: Eng 105-1
Here we go, one and all - the final day in this rapid little series, and the first key bit of news is that the sun not only has his hat on and come out to play but is positively gambolling around. No dramas in Murali's first over as Cookie and Bell dig in for the duration.






see also
Third Test day four as it happened
21 Dec 07 |  England
Third Test day three as it happened
20 Dec 07 |  England
Third Test day two as it happened
19 Dec 07 |  England
Third Test day one as it happened
18 Dec 07 |  England
England in Sri Lanka 2007
05 Dec 07 |  Cricket


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