Flintoff left the field while bowling complaining of stiffness
I'm still slightly in shock at Sri Lanka's baffling decision to go off for
bad light when they had England at their mercy with an hour to go on the
third day of this eventful Kandy Test.
Everyone in the press box was reminded of England's decision to accept the
light against South Africa at Headingley earlier this summer when Trescothick
and Butcher were playing with what seemed to be great ease.
Fast forward a
few months and the boot was on the other foot with Sri Lanka
"doing an England" - a decision that could very possibly lose them vital
The Sri Lankans may argue they'll make the time up on Saturday but that is
not really the issue.
At the stage they were at, they had a fairly
impressive lead of 127 runs and two batsmen in Jayasuiya and Sangakarra
who can give the ball a biff.
Flintoff was off the field - clearly
struggling with stiffness - and England were down to three recognised front
line bowlers in Giles, Batty and Kirtley.
Of those three it was the two
spinners who were bowling.
So the batsmen were under no sort of physical threat and had the ability and
time to rub England's collective noses in the dirt.
Lanka decided it would be prudent to call it a day.
To me it means England can regroup and come out as a fresher and more cohesive unit.
It's advantage Sri Lanka but England will sniff an opportunity after the
bad light decision
If England can regroup and take wickets good luck to them but they're now
playing catch up in this Test and are probably already thinking about
batting all day Sunday to try and save the game.
The batting on Friday was mixed from the tourists.
Thorpe was mightily
impressive as was Batty but once again Flintoff and Read struggled.
purple patch with the willow, the Lancashire all-rounder is going through a
bit of a drought.
He'll be keen to get runs in the second innings to avoid
being tagged as a man who can't hack it on pitches on the subcontinent.
There's absolutely no doubt he can bat - just ask the South Africans - he
just needs to show immense application against the mighty Murali and the
other Sri Lankan spinners.
Read too can also bat. The problem for the Notts
keeper - who incidentally has kept very well in both Tests so far - is that
any long trot of bad form will raise the inevitable comparisons with his
predecessor Alec Stewart.
So it's advantage Sri Lanka but England will sniff an opportunity after the
bad light decision.
Are the Sri Lankans an under-confident group?
evidence on Friday would suggest they are.